Three Feet from Gold and a 14-Page Business Plan

In the popular book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, he tells the story of a prospector that hit a vein of gold, bought the land, and lost a sh*t ton of money because the vein quickly ran out. He thought for sure there was more gold there, but out of time, resources, energy, and support, he sold the land for pennies on the dollar to another prospector.

That prospector got a professional surveyor/geologist to come look at the mine. Knowing about the land faults in the area, he informed the new land owner that literally three feet from where the dried-up vein was lied an entire, rich vein of gold ore.

Needless to say, the new prospector ended up quite rich… almost overnight.

There are a few things to learn from this story, one of which is “don’t give up” and another being “seek out a professional’s opinion.” I’m going to focus on the first…

The new land owner could have come in, built a house, raised some cows and had a comfortable living. But instead he decided to take hold of the first prospector’s dream and keep going. He wasn’t willing to give up, even though the dream wasn’t his to begin with.

There are times I feel overwhelmed and ready to throw in the towel. In fact I felt that way just the other day when I wrote the last post on this blog, Read this if You Used to be an Optimist. But something happening right now stopped me and caused me to write that motivational piece on my Facebook page instead.

See, my husband and I don’t take many “real” vacations. Business trips, yes. Vacations… well, no. Some people think we work too much… but we also know ourselves. We know what we need throughout a stressful week to recharge and we know how to relax when we want to. Because every time we did take a “real” vacation, we ended up with a new business to start… and sometimes a full-blown business plan for one.

So when I feel like giving up, now I remember this experience instead…

Two years ago (yes, YEARS) we were on a vacation for a weekend. The idea came to us while we were there to create our own antique mall… but more than an antique mall, we wanted it to be a retail incubator. We wanted to open it to professional artists, makers, antique dealers, and anyone wanting to break ground in retail without the typical 6-figure expense of opening a full-fledged store. And we found the perfect building for it… a local furniture store that had announced it was going out of business.

We cased the building, inside and out (before it closed). We cased the building again… twice… after it closed. We watched the price of the building drop over the course of two years (in which time we opened our two retail stores). We also realized if we bought the building, we’d have zero capital left to outfit it or get it up and running.

So we were stuck and let go of that dream… sort of.

It was always in the back of my mind. And in a 14-page business and marketing plan sitting on my hard drive. We were just waiting for the perfect time, and we talked about it often.

We did not “give up” on our dream. We stayed open to connections and ideas… for two years.

Then we met Harry. Harry had opened a store similar to our concept in a nearby town. In talking with him, we told him we’d love to see something like this in our town, and shared the idea with him. He LOVED the idea. We told him we’d been looking at an empty furniture store near where we lived.

Harry stopped.

He said, “I own a building that used to be a furniture store. Where did you say it was, again?”

Harry owned the building. The VERY same building we’d cased multiple times for our concept. Here was someone that had already created a similar concept and was excited about new possibilities. A true entrepreneur. And the guy that OWNED. THE. FREAKING. BUILDING.

Within a couple weeks of discussions and planning and after handing him the business plan I’d already created, he handed us the key.

The key to that million-dollar property we didn’t have the money for. The key and free reign to put whatever we wanted into the space.

Harry was our expert… the guy that said, “Just dig three feet from here.”

I was about to give up on one of our downtown stores when Harry came along. He offered us a way to revamp our business plan to include this new market place as the next step in our business growth. A way to save the struggling downtown store and our employees’ jobs.

If we’d given up (and yes, we had many a discussion to give up on one of the stores), the community would lose a great place to shop and our employees would have lost their jobs. But by looking three feet (OK about two miles) away, we’re now creating an even greater place for the community to shop, new experiences for people all over that pass through, an incubator to foster young business growth, our own business concepts are expanding, and we’re even creating new jobs.

So if you’re ready to give up on any aspect of your business, I hope this story encourages you. Keep looking. Keep digging. Keep asking. And be open for the answer of which direction you need to go to find your gold.

Leave a Comment