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Goodbye, Mom & Pop

2. You Make Something From Nothing

Although real entrepreneurs have the ability to see potential that ordinary people don't, they aren't content to stop there. Bright ideas are a dime a dozen (evidenced by the number of times people see a new product and say, "Hey, I thought of that!"). The difference between an entrepreneur and a dreamer is action.

Skill is definitely a factor in entrepreneurial success, but entrepreneurs are more likely to earn an "E" for effort than for elegance. Why? Taking a raw idea and putting it through the many thousands of machinations that turn it into a thriving business is messy work--especially when you're strapped for time, money and experience.

McCann got into the flower business when he purchased a small flower shop. He knew virtually nothing about flowers--or retailing or running a business--but he liked the idea of selling flowers and believed in the profitability and longevity of the industry.

The small shop did well, and several years later, McCann began filling orders for a hot new telemarketing company called 800-Flowers. The arrangement was profitable until 800- Flowers encountered rough seas a year later. The company was underfunded and poorly managed, and its managers didn't understand the floral industry. McCann made an offer to buy the company, which, after two years of negotiations, he did. With effort and determination, he went on to turn the company (now called 1-800-FLOWERS) around, creating an empire. Entrepreneurship isn't about knowing how to do something; it's about knowing how to get things done.

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This article was originally published in the May 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Goodbye, Mom & Pop.

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