Living The Dream



“Darrell, I have an idea!”

As someone entrenched in a start-up eco-system I hear a lot of ideas. Product pitches. Revolutionary service offerings. Game changers. Disruptive thinking. Many of these ideas are simply that: ideas. At no point have these ideas translated into revenue models, marketing plans, or customer acquisition strategies.

Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing ideas. Dreams and ideas can be a tremendous source of inspiration. Simply speaking though, ideas without a plan are as good as complaints with no action. They are both lifestyle options of the passive.

I get it. The idea of being an entrepreneur is sexy. Entrepreneurship is an aspirational lifestyle glorified in the media these days. In fact, oDesk, the self-tagged world’s largest online workplace, has published a report called Millennials and the Future of Work that surveyed 3,193 Gen Y professionals globally. The report concluded that 72% of those still at “regular” jobs want to quit and be entirely independent and more interestingly, 61% say they will likely quit within two years!

If in fact 61% of generation Y will quit their job within two years, we better start evolving those ideas into concrete business plans!

For you who fall into this category, be prepared for some tough slogging. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle that requires perseverance, persistence, and an action-focus. Entrepreneurs must disrupt the status quo and go against the grain. Most entrepreneurs I know face their fears daily, live with tolerated levels of regret, and must persevere through some tortuous circumstances. Most overnight success stories are years in the making…

Bringing a company and a brand into a marketplace with entrenched ways of being requires a constant state of sales. Sell, sell, sell. Selling as a lifestyle is of paramount importance to entrepreneurs and often doesn’t come naturally. This is where the perseverance comes in.

When times are tough I look toward inspiring business leaders. One of my biggest inspirations is Jim Pattison, multi-billionaire and philanthropist. Jim Pattison started his sales career as a car washer at a BP gas station that had a few used cars for sales. When the regular sales representative was on a dinner break, Jim made his first auto sale while still wearing his rubber coveralls!

Mr. Pattison started selling cars and managed to wrangle a GM showroom after his undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia. These days he sells more cars in western Canada than anyone else. He also owns grocery stores, signage, and entertainment companies as well. Mr. Pattison is known for his sales pitch and his work ethic.

Jim Pattison was just a kid with some dreams. Then he rolled up his sleeves and got to work. Honour your ideas. Dream big. Then get off your ass and do something about it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Darrell Kopke is the Founder and Skool Principal of institute B, a Vancouver-based business advisory and accelerator firm focusing on for-profit social impact benefit corporations. He also holds ownership positions in several growth companies and a Board position in a Vancouver-based charity established to end homelessness.

Darrell is considered a member of the group of founders of Lululemon Athletica, a Vancouver, Canada-based yoga-inspired athletic apparel retailer. In 2006 Darrell was announced as a member of the Business in Vancouver magazine’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’ business people. He is most proud of his wife Maria and two children Kai and Kennedy.