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Are You A Renegade Entrepreneur?

Jan 4, 2008
How many times have you heard it said "capitalize on what you have".....or "the diamonds are right in front of your nose?", etc.

The world of business was built on such tired old cliche's.

A lot of us who didn't quite fit into corporate America but still enjoy being productive and taking risks, are, indeed, renegade entrepreneurs. Most of us did not start out wealthy, and many of us are still not. Some are.

In my early days, most of my peers were busy in law and medical school prepararing for a real life. I was busy preparing to push the envelope again and again if need be. I still do.

Some of us were back then (as now) on "the road less traveled". We were too busy thinking of what could be rather than what is. We were not satisfied unless we were reinventing the wheel, more than once if need be.

My brother is happy not reinventing the wheel. He likes running the century old family real estate business. I enjoy being the prodigal son who lives his dreams

I tried it for several years and was bored out of my mind. I cannot count how many businesses I tried, sales job I endured, demeaning jobs in which I squeaked by, etc. I always felt I was a writer/artist at heart whether I was selling real estate or advertising.

Hence a great deal of inner struggle and disappointment.

Which step of the ladder are you on in your business? Have you started the first one yet?

If not, let's go back to basics. What is right in front of you? Do you see diamonds? Do you see gold? If not, that's okay. It is time for a self-assessment.

Maybe when you were younger you had dreams. But life happened and those dreams were put on the back burner. Do you really think they went away? They did not.

I know multi-millionaires who can barely get out of bed due to the depression of hating what they do. I know middle class hard workers who jump out of bed at 4am, read the paper, drink coffee and are on the run before 5:30 am who are happy as larks. Money has nothing to do with success. It is but one indicator of it.

I will admit, though I finally "found myself" in cartooning late in life, it was no easy trek. I went down many roads (mostly already paved for me) before discovering these roads were the kiss of death for my entrepreneurial spirit.

Even when I was making excellent money, if I was in a job I didn't enjoy, I was miserable.

One day, I sat down with a pen and piece of paper. I wrote down all the dreams I'd cast aside due to others wishes and/or desires for me.

I remember years ago, when I was in junior college in Dallas, I was reading the comics in the Dallas Morning News. I thought to myself, "I'm not a great artist, but I sure know how to come up with concepts and write as good as most of these". I decided to write a few and show them to my mom. She frowned and I got the message quickly before she had a chance to even say "Do your homework!!"

It is amazing what remains in our souls and psyche. I will never forget that shattered dream. I knew it was something I could do well, if only given the chance.

Fast forward thirty years. I was out of a job yet again, (and not a very good one at that).

I decided then and there I was going to start my own cartoon. I had written several thousand of them but was not satisfied with my artwork. I didn't realize at the time I was then at step one of my new business venture; and it turned out it was and is one of the biggest businesses (relatively unknown) in the U.S., "Image Licensing". That would not happen for almost another decade however.

I continued to take odd jobs and write my cartoons. By then I was working with a team of very talented artists, willing to take a risk on my concepts. My website was becoming popular so I had something to "offer up" on the table....exposure. And exposure they got. By 2005 the site was in the Alexa Top 100K most visited sites on the Internet. It has received 6.5 million visitors since its beginnings in 1997.

But still no consistent income; only the occasional publishing sell to a trade magazine or newspaper.

My better half at that time, asked me, "Why don't you try merchandising?" I had tried it several times to no avail, but I didn't use the basic business principal, maybe the most important in sales...."numbers". I had learned in one of my dreaded sales jobs "It's all a numbers game", the more you call the more you sell.

This time rather than giving up after twenty or so calls, I called hundreds. More rejection. After about three hundred calls, a "YES"!

I had my grand opening for Londons Times Cartoon Superstore in September of 2006 and has been profitable every month but one since it's beginnings. The manufacturer does all the work, promotion at shopping channels such as Shopzilla and Shop.com, Amazon, Ebay, etc. They showcase about 60,000 products with our images in 23 categories.

Now I own seven e-stores and the top offbeat cartoon site on the Internet. Suddenly I found myself a true renegade entrepreneur. I had reached goals beyond what I thought I would. Was it easy? Of course not. Was it rocket science? Nope. It was and is a continuity. Hard work. Always promoting, always writing (such as now), and keeping my eye on the ball. Remembering the diamonds (or gold) were right in front of me all the time. I simply let a caring loved one talk me out of it.

Now I think before I take any action regarding my career. It's not just image licensing or the business or art. It is the art of business. And I can now make major decisions and have the mobility and income to do so.

You can do the same thing. Maybe not in cartooning. That may or may not be your forte'. But try to remember a dream or dream you had before you "ended up in" the position you are. Chances are it happened before the Internet was founded and information on how to launch and promote your business was not yet available.

Londons Times Cartoons was started with less than $300 a decade ago. Now, with blogs, article marketing, Google, and so much more that was not available then, I probably could have started it today with much less (using a lot more sweat equity and taking it more seriously from the start).

I know without a doubt, persistence was the key more so than talent. If not for persistence, there would be no londonstimes.us, LTSuperstore.com, ricklondonwear.com, ricklondoncollection.com, or mirthgirthbirth.com or any of the other small niche stores I've since launched. londonstimes.us is the main cartoon site with over 8500 cartoons and has lured over 8.9 million visitors since January 2005 when we first started counting. As cliche' as it sounds, if I can finally live my dream, so can you.
About the Author
It took comic creator e-tailer Rick London a decade to live his dream. See his offbeat cartoon clothing and gifts at hot tees, and hilarious gifts
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