Friday, July 4, 2008

If They Can Do It, So Can You

I eat flaxseed.

Mixed with plain yogurt, a few shakes of cinnamon and a handful of raw nuts (when I’m feeling particularly indulgent, I add some organic blueberries and a teaspoon of honey), flaxseed meal provides a nutritious, low-carb snack that’s surprisingly yummy.

And that flaxseed meal comes from Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods in Milwaukie, Oregon.

In this month’s issue of Oregon Business magazine, there’s a short profile of Bob Moore, the founder and owner of Bob’s Red Mill.

According to the profile, Moore stumbled upon the milling idea after owning, operating and losing his shirt in the business of service stations. Following his financial ruin, Moore discovered a book that changed his life: John Goffe’s Mill by George Woodbury. The memoir told the story of Woodbury’s successful restoration and operation of the grain mill that had been in his family’s possession since the Revolutionary War. In the article, Moore says of Woodbury's undertaking:
“I thought this guy didn’t know beans about milling when he started, and if he did it, I can do it.”

And so he has. After nearly 30 years, his mill has recently doubled its manufacturing capacity to keep up with 25% annual growth.

That one phrase—“If she can do it, I can”—repeated in my head for years while worked for my last employer. As I watched how my boss ran her company, I kept looking for some mysterious characteristic she possessed that was the reason for her success. What was it that she had that I didn’t? After more than four years of searching, I realized there wasn’t anything. The only difference is that she took the risk to begin.

When I asked another entrepreneur I know how she came to start her own day spa, she told a similar story. While she worked for a spa owner, she constantly bumped up against the limitations of being an employee, especially as she peppered her boss with ideas. Tired of hearing the young upstart’s suggestions about how to improve spa services, her employer said, “If you think you can do a better job, go start your own spa.” So she did. This month, she celebrates five years of owning her own successful business.

Have you ever had an idea for a business or product and looked at others who have taken theirs to market and wondered, “How did they do that? How can they do it, and I can’t?”

You can. But you have to be willing to take the first step.

For inspiration, go have an amazingly delicous, whole grain breakfast at the Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Visitors Center at 5000 SE International Way, Portland, OR 97222.

And in the meantime, Happy Independence Day!

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