Thursday, March 19, 2009

John Rutledge on entrepreneurship

Among my favorite bloggers is John Rutledge, Chairman of Rutledge Capital. I met him 2 years ago in Honolulu, Hawaii, during the Pacific Rim Conference sponsored by 6 free market think tanks -- ATR, SPN, IPN, GIH, LRI, and NF. I doubt that he will remember me, but he was our dinner keynote speaker. After his talk, I joined a group of other participants who "ambushed" him in a long informal talk.

The man is very intelligent. I think he has double degrees -- Physics and Business administration. He was talking about economic growth and competition using some concepts in physics like the law of thermodynamics. His blog is

Last week, he wrote a very inspiring blog entry,
"Mary, my Hero of the Week"
from their Saturday Entrepreneur Show

Here is the story of Mary, 70, who wanted to become a start-up entrepreneur.

March 08, 2009 By: John Rutledge

We have a new Fox Business show for entrepreneurs...
I don’t mean entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. they are already wealthy. I mean REAL entrepreneurs that start companies in their kitchen and struggle every day to survive.

Our message is simple. We need to stop waiting for the government to bail us out or some big company to offer us a job. We need to get off the couch, light the blue flame, and do it ourselves by starting and growing our own businesses.

Yesterday we had a ton of calls from people fighting to survive in the tough economy. It breaks my heart to talk with a man running a shower door company, like we did yesterday, who is trying to decide who to fire because he can’t make next week’s payroll or pay the rent. But I admire these people so much that we have to try–and sometimes we can find a way to help.

Every week there is some person on the show that really gets to me. These are my heros. So far my all time champion is Terry–tell you about him later. This week my hero is Mary from Arkansas.

Mary called in to ask us if we thought she was crazy that she is thinking about starting a business.

Mary is 70 years old and has no business experience. But she has developed a dipping sauce in her kitchen that her friends all say is so good that she ought to be selling it. She had 2 questions. Was she crazy at her age to think she and her family could do this in their own kitchen? And how can she get started?

Crazy? Are you kidding, Mary? It is you, and people who have even half your energy, that built this country in the first place. I am humbled by your example. Go get ‘em girl.

Mary’s questions were good ones. Does she need any special equipment? (No) Can she start it in her own kitchen with her family? (Yes. That’s the best way.) Does she need a bigger pan to get started? (she only has a 5 quart pan) (No. Buy a bigger pan when you make some money.) Should she start selling the first (5 quart) batch or wait until she has made a lot more of it? (Waiting is for tourists. Start NOW.) And how can she find customers (lots of ideas including using local restaurants and gift shops, a card table by the road, going on local (free) radio and TV, and friends and family.) I told Mary I would take a jar of her sauce with me next trip to China.

Later in the day I got emails from people all over the country who were inspired by Mary to get their businesses going too. Working on a way to connect the mini entrepreneurs into a virtual marketing network they can each help the other sell into their local markets.

I may be a simp, but Mary gives me hope. I hear so many people whining every week about what they don’t have that I am uplifted to talk with a 70 year old woman in Arkansas who is ready to kick some butt.

Mary, you are my hero.


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