There’s no one way to be an entrepreneur.
You don’t have to look a certain way, operate in a particular industry, pursue specific education, grow up in a particular household, or spend your free time nurturing any particular hobbies — entrepreneurs grow from all walks of life.
In a new video series we are excited to launch today, entrepreneurs, founders, and small business owners from across the Dayton Region share their individual stories in order to break down those pervading stereotypes about who can or can’t be an entrepreneur.
They proudly declare, “I Am an Entrepreneur” — and you can be, too.
In 1956, Korean war veteran Charlie Ferrell, call sign ‘Mutt’, thought people were too wasteful with condiments — so he mixed his own one-sauce-for-all recipe.
More than five decades later, his granddaughter and fellow veteran, Charlynda Scales, inherited that recipe, and launched her company, Mutt’s Sauce, to share it with the world.
“I’m probably the worst cook in the family. I don’t have the credentials, I thought at the time, to carry this forward,” Charlynda recalled. “There were a lot of introspective moments of, why me?”
Tapping into business resources
Charlynda was halfway through her last military assignment when she launched her business. She did a Google search for free business help, and wound up at the door of Dayton Score, a free business support organization that connects new business owners to mentors.
“I just wanted to make a couple bottles of this sauce for friends and family. I wasn’t thinking big business,” she said. “When we had the first conversation, [my mentor] started telling me about Kraft and Heinz and the big brands of tomato-based products that eventually became conglomerates, and he said, it started with a recipe.”
She was glad to find herself launching a business in a military-friendly region.
“People who have the background that I had as a service member could say, we know that you are still dealing with challenges being a service member,” she said. “I am a 70-percent disabled veteran. From the outside, I’m perfectly fine, but I deal with challenges every single day that I have to overcome in order to appear normal and get the same job done as everybody else.”
‘Action cures anxiety’
Charlynda draws every day on her core values — values she learned from her grandfather and her military service.
“As a entrepreneur you cannot get complacent. You have to be hungry at all times. You have to be okay with learning something new. And you have to be willing to put in the work,” she said. “The lessons that I learned on active duty, I can carry with me throughout my journey as a business owner.”
And you have to stay humble, her grandfather taught her.
“My grandfather used to tell me that humility will take you further than money. I didn’t understand that. But if you look at the core values of integrity first, service before self, excellence in all you do, there’s a lot of humility in there,” she said. “There were a lot of times when I went to a mission, and I was scared to death. I didn’t feel like I had enough experience, or I didn’t have enough resources. But when I look back on it, the job still got done, it was just that moment where you just take action.”
Action cures anxiety, she added.
“Act on it before your fear can get in the way,” Charlynda said. “If you have a dream, sometimes that’s exactly what happens. There’s that moment where your fear turns on and it stops you in your tracks. So just act before you can feel it, and then you’ll look back at all you’ve accomplished.”
“I’m Charlynda Scales, and I am an entrepreneur.”
Our entrepreneur and small business coverage is powered by Launch Dayton, an organization that seeks to connect entrepreneurs to peers, resources and supporters while telling the story of the region's thriving entrepreneurial community.