About a decade ago, Patrick Dori, now 47, was an omnipresent force, simply floating in midair over a beach, watching a contraption made of iron roll across the sand. And it was then that Dori had his sudden epiphany: "My God, you could put advertising on that machine!"
Then he woke up. Drenched with sweat, twitching and hyperventilating, Dori realized the machine in his dream looked an awful lot like something his father would have made--his father who had passed away a year before and had been an ironworker. Dori explains, "I know it sounds weird, but I just feel that it was my father sending me a message."
It's been said by some that if you own a business, you're living the American Dream. But some entrepreneurs have businesses because of their dreams.
Today, Dori owns Beach'N Billboard, a Hackensack, New Jersey, company that imprints beach sand with advertisements. The ads usually last until about noon--when beachgoers, wind and surf have finally wiped them away--and they're made with machinery that looks very much like what Dori saw in his dream.
Meanwhile, Beach'N Billboard--which Dori founded in 1997 and which brings in annual revenue in the seven digits--has slathered the New Jersey coastline with sand ads for products like Skippy Peanut Butter. Dori also licenses his idea to entrepreneurs as far away as Portugal, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands.
Corinne Gregory, founder and president of The PoliteChild in Woodinville, Washington, also attributes the creation of her business to a dream. At the time, she owned a consulting company and was awake when she first came up with a plan for a new business--she wanted to teach children good manners and make a living while doing it.
But a dream showed her how to implement the business--what the lesson plans would be and where the classes would take place--in existing public and private schools and YMCAs. "I was in a classroom, holding the instructor's manual and curriculum. I was teaching these preschoolers how to mind their p's and q's, and they were loving it," recalls the 41-year-old entrepreneur, who swiftly put her dreamed-up ideas into action. Gregory founded her business in 2000 and has sales projections of more than $500,000 for 2005.
Getting those ideas down quickly is vital if you're going to mine your dreams for dollars. Jeff Taylor was an ad agency owner when he created his magnum opus in a dream at 4:30 a.m. over 10 years ago. He simply saw a flurry of graphics and a text-oriented bulletin board--but Taylor understood the meaning behind the visuals.
After writing his ideas down on the pad of paper next to his bed, Taylor hurried out of his bedroom and into a coffee shop. For the next five hours, he jotted down his plan for his Maynard, Massachusetts-based job search engine, Monster Worldwide, better known by its web address: Monster.com. "I have a little poster in my closet [that] reads: 'Eighty percent of life is showing up,' and [this is] a good example of that," says Taylor, 41. "It would have been pretty easy to have rolled over and gone [back] to sleep, and that would have been a multibillion-dollar opportunity I would have let go by."
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.