Entrepreneurs: Problems Will Happen. Don’t Let Them Stop You.

by David Eckoff · 4 comments

In August of 1994, I was an accountant in a large computer company. Despite my best efforts, I disliked the mind-numbing repetition of the job. A mismatch for my creative and entrepreneurial skill set. I came home from work each night with a headache, born of disappointment, monotony and frustration.

But I had a plan. I was one week away from publishing the first issue of “Inside Carolina“, a magazine covering UNC sports. After six months of developing the idea, my dream to launch my first business was about to become a reality!

Until I received a last minute phone call from our photographer, a student intern. He said he was taking an assignment with the school yearbook, and he’d be unable to provide photos for our magazine.

I was stunned. Our plan was to launch the first issue with preseason coverage before the first football game. We were so close to launching. But you can’t have a sports magazine without photos. And time wasn’t on our side. North Carolina would be unlikely to move the start of the football season upon our request.

In that moment, I saw my first business circling the drain. I felt incredibly discouraged. With no obvious path to getting our first issue done before the season kickoff, I even thought about scrapping the project.

In short, I reached that moment of decision all people who tackle a new endeavor reach. Confronted by an obstacle, to either give up or forge ahead.

So what did I do? I strengthened my resolve.

And jotted across the top of a notepad: “How to Make This Work”. Ideas flowed.

At the top of the list: buy a 35mm camera and get photos of practices and games that week. Which I did.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, that seemingly small decision would have a lasting impact on my life. It put me in a new direction, and led to a new destination.

We launched the first print issue of “Inside Carolina”. Soon after, we started publishing on the Web. Which led to our site becoming part of a new online sports network, Rivals.com. A year later, the sports network startup recruited me to lead its national roll out. Enabling me once and for all to leave the accounting field. Which led to me discovering that I have a passion for the intersection of media and technology, that I’ve followed to this day.

My point is, problems will happen. Don’t let them stop you.

When faced with even the greatest obstacle, the exciting thing to know is: one small change now can lead to a change in direction. Which over time can lead to a new destination.


What do YOU think about and do when faced with a big obstacle? Share your approach with other readers in the comment section below.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Paul January 6, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Good Story,I am on the verge of going on my own I just need that big kick
Thanks Dave


2 Dyana Valentine January 7, 2011 at 5:39 am

fantastic–and totally inspiring, D. Thank you for sharing it. When I hit a roadblock, I, too, go to the Make It Happen list. I also go to the:
who do I call (who will be constructive not told-you-so)?
if this really needs to circle the drain, am I willing to let it go?
and Hey, Is It Really True That This Is The Worst That Could Happen?
Keep it positive and forward-moving!


3 Susan Walter Sink January 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm

My background is in design. So I’ve been trained to look at many “thumbnail” sketches of ideas and rapidly evaluate them visually. Translating that to a mental “picture” of an obstacle took a bit of time. But now, I am able think about possible “avenues” around the obstacle in the same way. I use a bit of detail to determine what’s needed to build each “road” to get me around an obstacle. I also think about why I am attached to an idea and evaluate whether that is reasonable in the situation. Lastly, I look at what skills I will gain on each “path” and evaluate which of those skills will be useful throughout my life and transferable to other situations or other people; I evaluate which skills I can hire out to gain speed in the situation and the cost and time associated with managing that process. Most of the time, one or two solutions surface to the top pretty quickly and I can run a prototype to test the idea. The point is not to get too attached before you run the prototype so you can change paths if you need to without loosing your momentum. One of my favorite books on strategy is one about the life and teachings of John Boyd, USAF who is considered the father of military strategy in air combat. His path in life is as interesting and inspiring as his lessons.


4 Roxanne Halverson January 8, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Hi David, I am at a cross roads in my life having completed 30 years you know where. I just found your blog today and I am trying to figure out the next big thing. Like you I am creative but you followed your dream and have been a huge success. I really like your blog and find you inspirational. Thanks for making me think about the future and all the success it will hold. Always a fan, Roxanne P.S. I do have a big idea but not sure how to make it successfull…and it can be for profit and non-profit…can be viewed as a little cutsy but when those “God” ideas come along and nag you every day, it’s hard not to listen…Lunch sometime?


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