Like all of you, I remember exactly where I was the morning of September 11 when news first struck of the terrorist attacks. I was still at home, getting ready to head out for what should have been a typical day of work. The day, as we now know, was anything but typical. The shock had still not settled in even as I proceeded on to work and listened to the developing events. And gathered around a small TV here at work, we all watched the horror of terrorism unfold before our eyes, knowing our lives had changed forever.
Now, as I attempt to think about entrepreneurship, I still am unable to find any words that might speed the healing process. Let's face it, all of us are glued to the news 24/7, wondering if/when the United States will retaliate, whether there could be more attacks, whether we can ever feel safe again. At a time like this, is there any room for thoughts about starting and growing a business?
In a word, yes. Just imagine what would happen to our country if we all locked ourselves in our houses, refusing to carry on, personally and professionally. There is something to be said for the idea of not allowing terrorism to rule the way we live our lives, but beyond that, we owe it to ourselves, to the victims, to their loved ones, to all the rescue workers who lost their lives or who are still sorting through rubble, to rebuild. And part of rebuilding is to do things that will make our economy strong.
Entrepreneurship is one of the cornerstones of American life. It represents the innovation, courage and strength that allows our country to prosper. Think of all the entrepreneurs who changed our lives immeasurably simply by deciding to innovate. William Hewlett and David Packard. Marc Andreessen. Burton Baskin and Irvine Robbins. Jeff Bezos. Bill Gates. Ray Kroc. Howard Schultz. Martha Stewart. Lillian Vernon. The list goes on. And though none of these entrepreneurs had to be entrepreneurs in the midst of a national tragedy the likes of this one, they did face adversity at some point, yet they succeeded. That is what being an entrepreneur is all about-taking risks, beating the odds, holding your head up high through hardships and emerging triumphant.
I realize nothing can be normal for a long time, and for one reason or another, you may need more time to digest what has happened and what is to come. But I encourage you to continue to pursue your dreams in spite of the devastation, all the while remembering the lives lost. Be thankful that you have the opportunity to rebuild. And don't give up hope that you-and all of us-can triumph.
Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.