Successful entrepreneurship is a labor of love


People often congratulate me for starting my own firm, Caldwell Strategic Consulting, at the ripe young age of 26. I often thank them, and sometimes add that I had no choice. Of course, I had a choice. I could have done lots of things, but lobbying and consulting is my passion and I really had no choice but to follow my passion. This is an entrepreneur’s story.

One benefit of the economic downturn was an expansion in entrepreneurship. Millennials who were unemployed yet had vision began their own businesses.

Pushing for a dream unseen by most can be an insurmountable task for some, but this is what entrepreneurs are born to do.

People will discourage others from following their passion. They don’t do it out of spite, but because people are preconditioned to fear failure. They consider their discouragement a favor. They may advise others to find a “stable company” and “move up the ladder,” or point out that business owners need years of experience.

Sounds innocuous, right? Truthfully, working a safe job one doesn’t love or taking the road most traveled is risky. One always risks something, so why not take the ultimate risk by following one’s passion?

Entrepreneurship does require a unique skill, judgment and discretion to make certain sacrifices in furthering the overall success of an organization and brand. Think of Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook. Imagine how many people probably told Zuckerberg that his little website would never make any money. How many told him to go back to college and get a real job instead of taking a chance on something that was never done before? But he had a vision that few understood. Some even thought it was preposterous. He had, however, what all innovators have: passion. He had passion so strong that some people will likely never understand it.

Against all odds, the passionate believe in themselves and refuse to capitulate. A sacrifice might be leaving others behind. When following a dream, not everyone will be going in the same direction— and that’s ok.

At the age of 18, I began attending the Living Word Christian Center in Chicago. Pastor Bill Winston told me: “It doesn’t matter how old you are; you can own a business and be very successful.” All I needed, he said, “is the knowledge to do so.”

Pastor Winston planted a vision within me. I wanted to own my own apartment building. I learned from past experiences that, if I wanted to do something that isn’t practical, I should keep my vision to myself— only sharing it with people who could help or encourage me. At the age of 19, without support from family or friends, I closed on a multi-unit apartment building.

All too often, people attack individuals’ dreams and discourage them from following their vision. They encourage a more practical road— the easy road.

A man once said: “A million-dollar opportunity comes to you once a day.” But we are trained to not see the opportunity. As a business owner and an entrepreneur, I only see opportunities.

Funnyman Jim Carrey gave the commencement address to the Maharishi University of Management’s class of 2014. He said: “So many of us chose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect… My father could have been a great comedian, but he

didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice.

Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive.”

Ownership is one of the most powerful keys to success and independence. Use that key to achieve freedom.

Project 21 member Gianno Caldwell is the founder and principal of Caldwell Strategic Consulting. Comments may be sent to