Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, Microsoft and Apple are among the most-iconic brands and well-known businesses around the planet, but each of those international corporate giants traces its roots back to the entrepreneurial spirit upon which America’s economic system of free enterprise is based.
Although Dr. John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, formulated a new cocaine-extract tonic drink in 1886, it was fellow Atlanta pharmacist Asa Candler who forcefully marketed Coca-Cola into a soda fountain sensation after purchasing the formula in 1887 for $2,300.
Mac and Dick McDonald opened their popular San Bernardino, Calif., burger joint in 1940, but it required a Ray Kroc, who filed for bankruptcy multiple times, to envision what his 1955 Golden Arch franchise in Des Plaines could become before buying out the brothers in 1961 for $2.7 million.
Former Oregon distance runner Phil Knight represented a small Japanese fish (Tiger running shoes) competing in a big pond of German manufacturers until a 1964 handshake with Oregon track and field coach Bill Bowerman, a shoe-designing guru, formed the pre-Nike Swoosh Blue Ribbon Sports.
IBM, or Big Blue as it was known, dominated the computer software market before geeks Bill Gates and Paul Allen combined their brainpower in 1975 on their way to developing the most-user friendly operating systems in Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.
What the Gates-Allen team accomplished for software users mirrored the computer design feats of Steven Jobs and Steven Wozniak in the world of personal computers, starting in 1976 with Apple I.
The above vignettes shine a spotlight on the very best of America’s entrepreneurial spirit, but they are but a fraction of the individual successes that make up our business communities and labor force.
Despite the daunting statistic that 4 out of 5 new businesses typically fail, entrepreneurs by the thousands are willing to resign from the corporate life, invest their savings and even mortgage their homes for a chance at doing what they love and earn a living.
In his “Bringing the Dream Back” presentation at the American Chamber of Commerce Executive (ACCE) 2013 Convention in Oklahoma City on July 26, entrepreneur and author Michael E. Gerber, touted as the “World’s No. 1 Small Business Guru,” reported that American businesses’ sole proprietors need only hire one employee to immediately expand the workforce by 70,000 jobs.
Gerber also noted that the name “Chamber of Commerce,” which pre-dates Cola-Cola by a century, stands among the most-iconic brands and well-known businesses.
Chambers of Commerce, you see, are where the spirit of entrepreneurship unites for a common good.
John Quigley is the president of the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce