Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Enterpreneurs Get Their Ideas

Link of the day - Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

I'm often asked how I came up with the idea for my baseball tours company, Big League Tours. It's pretty simple, really. Just like everything else in my life, when my experience, passions and opportunities intersect, "big breaks" have occurred.

What led me to start Big League Tours is my background in entrepreneurial activities, my love for baseball and my recognition of a niche opportunity.

My background in entrepreneurial activities began at a young age when my dad encouraged me to mow lawns in my hometown of Summitville. He helped me set a price, ask for the money and realize that when you are providing a service that people need or want, you shouldn't feel like you are selling them anything.

From there I went to Ball State University to study entrepreneurship, which only increased my desire to be involved with entrepreneurial ventures. Starting at the Small Business Development Center in Columbus and later the SBDC in Indianapolis, I counseled and trained small-business owners in all aspects of business planning, startup and operations.

Seeing a need to provide services to entrepreneurs led my co-founder, Tom Gabbert, and me to launch Milestone Advisors in 2003. At Milestone, we advise CEOs on business strategy, corporate finance and management accounting. We have worked with more than 300 companies since our inception and have grown to 25 people.

Similarly, baseball is a passion for me that began at an early age. I grew up playing baseball, watching the game of the week on Saturdays and going to Riverfront Stadium every chance that I could. My dad and I used to talk about visiting every Major League ballpark, and we visited a few here and there.

But when my son, who's now 11, started getting into baseball, we began talking about visiting all the parks, too. I realized that I had a window of opportunity to go to as many of the stadiums as I could with him and my dad before life passed us up and we no longer had the opportunity.

As I looked into the options of going with other tour operators or going on my own, I didn't like what I saw. Other tour operators offered seven- to 10-day tours that had you on a bus for 3,000-plus miles, staying at cheap motels in the middle of nowhere and sitting in group seats in the upper decks. None of that appealed to me. I also thought that going alone wouldn't afford me some things that could more easily be done in a group.

I began pulling together a business plan. I surrounded myself with people with experience in travel, and (who) had connections with baseball. Once the idea had jelled, the launch began in the fall of 2005 and tours began in 2006.

We offer really cool opportunities for baseball lovers, like bringing in current and former Major League Baseball players to meet with our guests. We take private stadium tours and get special access to stadiums.

It's been a real dream to think up and plan the tours the way that I would want to take them and to share that with other baseball fans.

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