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The Pain and Passion of Starting a Small Business


By Chris Herron

I have always thought it fascinating how, over time, the mind dulls the memory of pain. You know you had pain, but you can no longer reproduce the physical sensations of how it felt. I believe this has evolved for many reasons: So we can love again after heartbreak; so the first born can potentially have siblings, and so entrepreneurs can keep alive their entrepreneurial endeavors.

Flash forward to two fun loving brothers on a mission to bring their love of games to families everywhere. My husband Gregg and his brother, Randy, come from a family raised on competition, fun, music, and games. However, they are without any immediate family members. Due to illnesses, they lost their mother, father and sister. Both brothers share similar traits…they are the guys that wake up every morning excited about what they are doing. Randy, now retired, had a full career in the Air Force before pursuing his college dream of teaching high school math…no really! Gregg owns his own landscape contracting business, sole proprietor and sole laborer. At 53, he is the hardest working person I know. Oh, yeah and in their spare time they decided to start up a new business.

If at First You Don't Succeed...
This wasn't my husband's first foray, trying to make his passion into a business idea. Besides his own business that he makes his primary living, he also has entertained bee keeping for fun and profit and wine-making for lots of fun and no profit. He even invented a brand new card game born out of a dream in which he played a gin rummy-like game named "Knockers" with Jim Belushi. Now Ring It! Golf is his passion.

Born with a passion for games, Randy started playing Ring-it! Golf in his backyard when his college-age daughter brought home promotional flying rings from a college party. At his teaching retirement party, Gregg and Randy developed rules and devised an 18 hole course throughout the neighborhood (Maryland has few fences and many tolerant neighbors!). They had so much fun they decided to bring the game to the public. The idea combines the golf with a flying disk game, ringing the course flags with either a standard or "pro" ring.

Just a Few Little Sacrifices
Friends ask me if I find it irritating that my husband invested hard-earned money into this business because it has not yet recouped the initial investment. Or, if I mind that part of our garage is now a warehouse; or that my living room has become part of the assembly line; or that I have stayed up late printing shipping labels because I am a better "typer." But I remind them how this project keeps two brothers together, sharing their passion, sharing their creativity. The money is secondary.

Like a Hot Chili Pepper
Have you ever experimented by eating a very hot chilly pepper and you can feel the burn? It amazes me how you can experience all this intense pain, yet no physical damage is done to any of the delicate tissues. You can even get a sense of euphoria! Starting this new business is not unlike the pepper- painful at times, but no real damage. You take the pleasant parts when you get them and let the mind forget the painful parts so you can live to create another day, and hopefully get that euphoric feeling of success!

Next: Advice and Observations from a Small Business Owner
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