For most of us, a road trip is a time to travel with friends, listen to music, take in the views of the majestic U.S. and wonder what adventures will come our way.
But for one man, hitting the open road means something slightly different.
Mike Glauser’s summer road trip consisted of a bike, some young entrepreneurs, a camera crew and a chance to meet with successful business-starters across the country.
Glauser is an entrepreneur, business consultant and university professor. On top of that, he is also the executive director of the Clark Center for Entrepreneurship at Utah State University. His job there is to assist students in their endeavors to start their own jobs and businesses.
Research is a large part of his work there, as well, and the recent trends he’s observed have left him disheartened. Increasingly, technology is replacing middle class employees — resulting in a future of shorter-term work and contract projects.
As a result, Glauser sees a need for more self-employment. Which is why he set out on his journey to discover the secrets of the nation’s entrepreneurs.
Using a Kickstarter campaign, Glauser raised $28,000 to launch his project. Then on June 2, Glauser and his team embarked on their eight-week-long cross-country bike tour, starting in Florence, Ore. and finishing up in Yorktown, Va. During the two months spent on the road, Glauser crossed through 100 cities and spoke with 100 entrepreneurs.
After all of that pedaling, here’s what he learned.
Lesson 1: Money isn’t everything.
While people may think that entrepreneurs are only in it for the fortune, that’s far from the truth. Entrepreneurs know exactly why they start a business, and most often, it comes from a desire to be a part of the community. Many of them want to move to small towns for a more pleasant lifestyle where they can raise a family and make a difference. For instance, one entrepreneur that Glauser encountered, whose only education consists of a high school degree, was able to donate $2 million to his local school district. “Entrepreneurs are very purpose-driven,” Glauser told Fast Company.
Lesson 2: Don’t limit yourself.
Many entrepreneurs aren’t one-trick ponies. They’ve expanded and diversified their business to include multiple areas of revenue. Joe Brandl, the owner of Absaroka Western Designers and Tannery, is a perfect example of this. His business in Dubois, Wyo. serves customers both across the country and abroad and includes the sale of animal hides, high-end lodge design and costume–making for Western movies.
Lesson 3: Take advantage of limited resources.
Just because you don’t have much, doesn’t mean that have nothing. Entrepreneurs are innovative and search for ways to stretch that dollar. They search for advice from advisors or mentors free-of-charge or in exchange for commissions. Case in point: during the recession, one company offered high-net customers a 20 percent discount, raising $70,000 in the process.
While Glauser admits that not everyone can start the next Google or Facebook, that doesn’t mean that everybody can’t start a business of a different kind — one that serves the individual needs of a community. Proving that despite all the recent technological advances, you can’t take the human out of business.