December 5, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Follow Your Passion to Find Success in Business, Entrepreneurship Expert Says

December 4, 2012

HOOVER, Alabama - Conventional wisdom holds that 85 to 90 percent of new businesses fail. Don't believe it, said Dale Callahan, director of the Information Engineering and Management program at UAB.

The overwhelming majority of businesses that fail were incorporated as limited liability companies, then their "founders" lost interest or moved on to other things, he told a luncheon crowd of students and entrepreneurs at the Hoover Public Library.

"Those aren't business failures," he said. "They failed to start. You're a business when you make money."

Callahan, author of the book "Resumes are Worthless," said that less than 10 percent of businesses that are actually launched end in failure, and success in business is a lot easier and more liberating than most people believe.

An evangelist for entrepreneurship, Callahan said too many people sentence themselves to careers they don't enjoy, ignoring their passions and the success that can come from pursuing something you love.

"You can start a business in 24 hours," he said. "And when you would pay to do what you do for a living, you're in the right spot."

In an hour-long presentation Callahan focused on internet-based businesses that were started by people following their passions, and which are financial success stories. Among his examples of success: Started by a man who was told by his doctor to get healthy or die, it now generates about $1 million a year in revenue for its founder, Jim Healthy. The man changed his last name to Healthy to promote the business. Founded by the wife of a Texas pastor, the hysterectomy support site now is valued at $30 million to $35 million. Created by an Alaska woman to sell her woodworking projects, it's a case study of online retail success, Callahan said.

Callahan, who holds a Phd in engineering from the University of Alabama, also told the high school students in his audience not to put too much emphasis on getting a formal education. "When you go to college, they put you in a box," he said, making the case that conventional career paths can stifle progress.

Mostly, he said, having passion and acting on it are the keys to success.

"In this country that we're in, you can do anything you want to do," he said. "It's just that most people don't do anything."

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