A number of years ago, a couple of buddies and I started a scuba diving store in Ottawa. We were all in our early 20’s, we pooled our money and rented a 1000 sq ft space in an industrial section of town. The idea was to sell dive equipment during the day and teach scuba courses at night (we would end up working about 15 hr a day, 6-7 days a week ). We agreed to pay each other $12,500 a year. We even called the store Alpha Dive Center as, in the days before the internet, this ensured our store would be first scuba listing in the yellow pages.
Why am I sharing this with you?
On opening day, we had a party at the store to welcome new customers. A cake, some balloons and us with our newly painted walls and some limited inventory. I noticed my partner talking with one of our competitors, a guy who owned another dive store in town. I figured he had come by to wish us good luck. It turns out that wasn’t the case at all. The man was angry we had started up our business and that (in his words) “there are already three stores in town, now the pie is being divided up even more.” He advised we close down.
Instead, we grew the pie. Within five years, we were one of the top 3 dive stores in Canada. And today, if you visit Ottawa, there are new scuba stores that are owned and run by people who took originally took courses at our store.
This is why I’m a fan of entrepreneurism and capitalism. It’s also why my sympathies often lie with the hard-working immigrant who has just arrived in Canada versus the “established Canadian citizen” who resents the new presence because “it will divide the pie too much.” I value passion and commitment over complacency and entitlement. #wednesdaywisdom