As Luck Would Have It

September 26, 2017

“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.” – Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

I recently spent a beautiful late summer afternoon on Belle Isle in Detroit, appreciating its treasures by renting a bike and pedaling around the circumference of the island.  The rental was a single speed, no gears – most folks of my age cohort learned to ride on a bike like this, with kickback brakes.  It made me remember, quite vividly, the first kid in our neighborhood to get a fancy new 3-speed, complete with hand brakes.  I pestered the poor guy until he allowed me to ride it, and proceeded to parade around several blocks showing off the latest two-wheeled technology.  As I reached the intersection just across the street from my block, I picked up speed to put on a better show – and failed to look both ways before attempting to cross.  I can still hear screeching tires, and see the oncoming car raise its entire back end, it had to brake so hard; and feel the humiliation of peddling backwards without stopping, in front of the entire neighborhood, as I panicked and completely forget to apply the hand brakes with which the bike was equipped.  The car stopped just in time as I sailed through the collision course unscathed. I also remembered the kindness of the driver, who didn’t get out of his vehicle and admonish my stupidity, but made sure I was OK and followed me safely home.  A different time, in many regards.

A lot of folks would say I was lucky in that situation.  The people who know me well would anticipate my response: “I don’t believe in luck.”  I believe in the capability of every person; more importantly, I believe in the value of a positive attitude, hard work and preparation – that a patient, persistent, exact approach to training for a situation or event will most significantly elevate the chance of achieving the desired outcome.  So I believe that I benefited from the alertness and swift, skilled response of the driver of that car – he was exact.

Sometimes the exactitude of thorough preparation and planning, however, must be enhanced by making a leap of faith.  Entrepreneurs make such a leap with each new business day.  Small business owners, inclusive of those with disabilities, take entrepreneurial chances without assurance their efforts will result in success – but they make the leap anyway.  A small business owned by a person with a disability is sometimes referred to as a Micro Enterprise – its guiding principles include:

  • Begin with a small amount of money.
  • Get the business up and running in a short time.
  • As a business owner, remember time is worth money.
  • Change happens one person at a time.

Micro enterprise participants have found that it is not always the income or profit that drives business owners in their quest for entrepreneurial success. For some entrepreneurs, the business is more about having quality activities, relationships with others and a purpose and pride in daily activities.

Proponents of micro enterprise options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities also point to other potential quality outcomes:

  • Increased income, independence, and community integration
  • Enhanced self-esteem and quality of life
  • Broadened array of choices, including the prospect of becoming an employer

Prospective entrepreneurs can learn to develop and execute a business plan based on their own strengths and resources, as well as receive assistance with market research, brand development, writing business plans, marketing and sales, and leadership skills.

While a steadfast adherent to the principle of exactitude, I still thoroughly admire the entrepreneurial spirit of the Micro Enterprise owners who have made the leap of faith into this arena.  And as an association, MARO supports micro enterprises at our annual fall professional development event – re:con, the convention of new beginnings.  One of the features of this event is a Micro Enterprise Mall – an exhibit area for small businesses owned and operated by people with disabilities, selling products and marketing services.

A scholarship fund has been developed to support these consumer entrepreneurs – since 2011, we have offered scholarships covering the re:con exhibit fee, and overnight accommodations for the micro business owner. In an effort to sustain this scholarship for re:con 2017, to be held November 1-3 in Grand Rapids, I will be hitting the trails in October and biking 48 miles round trip via the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail from Comstock Park to Sand Lake, to help raise funds – a ride for re:con.  We’re almost halfway to our fundraising goal of $3,000 – sufficient to fully support 10 Micro Enterprises at re:con in Grand Rapids.

If you believe in the capability of every person, and support the entrepreneurial spirit, please consider donating to the scholarship fund – no amount is too small, and all contributions are appreciated.

Click here to support the ride 4 re:con and the Micro Enterprise Scholarship Fund.