Small Business Ideas

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Garage Band

by Emily O'Shaughnessy

I think it’s time for some major spring cleaning. Specifically, my garage. I’ve come to the conclusion that almost all successful, creative businesses started in somebody’s garage. We all know about about Apple, of course. But did you know that Amazon was originally run out of founder Jeff Bezos’ garage? Or  that Disney’s first “studio” was in Walt’s uncle garage? HP, Google, Maglite, Mattel and Whole Foods – all very humble beginnings in a garage or shed.

I was mulling this over the weekend when Dave Grohl’s Grammy acceptance speech for Best Rock Album caught my attention Sunday night. It caused quite a stir and brought a standing ovation from the audience. Here’s what he said:

“This is a great honor, because this record was a special record for our band. Rather than go to the best studio in the world down the street in Hollywood and rather than use all of the fanciest computers that money can buy, we made this one in my garage with some microphones and a tape machine…

“To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of music is what’s important. Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that’s the most important thing for people to do.

“It’s not about being perfect, it’s not about sounding absolutely correct, it’s not about what goes on in a computer. It’s about what goes on in here [your heart] and what goes on in here [your head].”

You don’t have to be a Foo Fighters Fan, or even like rock music in general to appreciate his meaning. To me, his message was simple. If you have talent and passion, and are willing to put in the time and dedication you can produce something unbelievable. He reminds us not to be afraid of failure, and instead put our resources toward doing what we love and believe in.

The same can be said for Harley Davidson, Yankee Candle Company, James Avery Craftsman and numerous other businesses that started from very humble beginnings. If you love what you’re doing enough to spend hours upon hours working on it inside a garage, just hoping to one day breakeven – how much more will you love it when you’re turning a profit? Making your first million? Billion?

As for me, I don’t think I have the winning idea for my garage-run business just yet. But that’s okay, as it gives me time to clean out the disaster of coolers, Christmas lights, Mardi Gras beads, unused lawn tools, and random pool toys (we don’t own a pool) that have built up in ours over the years. But you can bet when I do get ready I’m starting it in my garage. Apparently that’s what all the cool kids do.

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