Debbie Travis - Friday, November 27, 2015



I have been speaking in auditoriums filled with budding entrepreneurs for years – nowadays they seem to call them ’Start Ups.’ Wikipedia says “an entrepreneur perceives a new business opportunity and often exhibits biases in her perception and subsequent decision to exploit the opportunity.” Not quite sure what this means, but what I do know is this. First and foremost, I have always been an entrepreneur. I have never had the inclination to work for anyone else, but myself. This means basically that you have the entire responsibility for the success or failure of your venture. Last night I gave this subject of entrepreneurship a great deal of thought. I was sitting at my long kitchen table sticking labels on 400 lavender body oil bottles that had just arrived from my farm in Italy. Someone forgot to put the labels on properly, so guess who is up at midnight doing the tedious job? me , the entrepreneur. Then this evening, guess who gave a talk about the wonders of Extra Virgin olive oil to a group of lawyers at a fabulous new olive oil shop (Olives en Folie) owned by a good friend, a favour for her new venture.. yup . . me the entrepreneur. And any day now that same entrepreneur will be helping send out 800 bottles of my organic olive oil that I picked by hand, drove to the olive press and organized the Fedex across the pond. This is all at the same time as I have been shooting my documentary Dolce Debbie, help design my new furniture line at Sears, develop a wonderful DT Pinot Grigio for the LCBO and run my production company. That is what entrepreneurs do basically everything.


Last week I spoke to an excited group of young ‘entrepreneurs’ in Alberta about my '10 Commandments for Success.’ I looked out over the sea of hundreds of eager businesswomen as they stared back hoping to catch at least a nibble of wisdom to help them fulfill their own dreams. I wondered if they really knew what they were getting themselves into. They often ask if it gets easier. . it doesn’t. A born entrepreneur doesn’t sit back when the business takes off, they are always onto the next idea.  

Starting a new venture is the most exciting stage. The ideas are thrown around, the enthusiasm, the passion. All these ingredients are necessary. They are the fuel to get that venture off the ground. Then the work begins. As I sat into the wee hours putting on those super sticky labels while stripping off the top layer of skin from the tip of each finger, the question of why am I doing this never really crosses my mind. A true entrepreneur puts in the endless hours because they love and believe in what they do. I believed 20 years ago that every mum at home wanted to stencil their living room or grab a sponge and splatter their walls with paint. I never listened to the naysayers – I just bulldozed forward. I did well out of those thousands of painted walls. The number one question asked at my Girls Getaway in Tuscany is ‘why’. Why am I doing this? Why do I fill my new, gorgeous, Tuscan villa with strangers? Well, it's quite simple. I love it. I love it more now than painting someone’s walls or making television shows now. I am like Madonna – I have reinvented myself. I firmly do believe that if you have a passion for what you do (which may change over the years) you will be successful. You may not make millions but you will wake each day invigorated with new ideas and plans. You will fall asleep exhausted yet exhilarated because your day has been filled doing what you adore. You will cry from your mistakes and scream at the constant challenges. You will feel painfully guilty about the times you missed with your kids, the lunches not taken with girlfriends. These are the ‘ perils’ but the ‘ pearls’ are numerous, solid and shiny. You will feel just as thrilled from the sale of a single item as you are from that big corporate deal. Your passion will rub off on your children and your friends and it will inspire them to follow their own dreams and that in itself is the gift of success.




Frances Mayes commented on 28-Nov-2015 01:22 PM
Dynamo Debbie!
Stacey Scott Nykolyshyn commented on 28-Nov-2015 05:52 PM
Favoloso! Debbie, your entrepreneurial drive and success have been an inspiration to me for years... since the days you were teaching sponge painting at the YWCA of Montreal, volunteering with Room for Change at The Montreal Children's Hospital, and the discovering your Tuscan villa renovation project on Twitter. Reading your blog takes me back to my wedding at Podere Baiocco in Citta Della Pieve and your message here is a motivating reminder of my own WHY. Thank you :)

P.S. Sorry to have missed your visit to Alberta :(
m Brown commented on 29-Nov-2015 07:02 AM
Dear fantastic Debbie!

in this blog you have just described my husband to a T " Entrepreneur extraordinaire" !
Highs and lows...late night scratching and always , always hands on. It is sometimes hard to live with the "on to the next idea" kinda person but I wouldnt want it any other way. In fact, Ive caught the bug haha. I admire you for so many things especially for you home in Tuscany endeavor that you share. Ive dreamed of this- seriously!! I intend to get there someday with my sister hopefully. Our family has had all of our children, 5 of them marry in 7 years and 9 grandchildren to start..didnt see that coming! As well as a serious illness with one of our sons...were out of money but have the TIME to move on to next project(s)and that's just what we are going to do! cheers and blessings from the east coast! M
Nancee commented on 29-Nov-2015 11:11 AM
Beautifully said Debbie!
Ann Yankowsky commented on 30-Nov-2015 11:42 AM
Great post Debbie! I was one of the eager faces watching you speak in Alberta this month and I loved your humor and humility. I started as an entrepreneur later in life and am loving this journey. Looking forward to more advice from you as your journey continues!
Rhonda Masse commented on 30-Nov-2015 02:44 PM
Hi Debbie,
I have watched my husband for over 18 years while he runs architectural drafting and design service, it takes some dedication. It makes things much easier if you have passion for what you do in order to be and entrepreneur and a belief in what you are doing. I see that in you from what you have done in the past to what you are doing today, you are an inspiration. I am just starting my own business working in tandem with my husband providing vintage lighting and arts & crafts period antiques. I visit your site and watch your tweets to keep me focused, thank you for taking the chances that you have in the past as it makes the rest of us feel that it is all possible. Loved you on Marilyn Denis and your Tuscan home, it is great when you see someone follow their heart.
Rhonda Masse, Ontario Canada
Jennifer commented on 14-Dec-2015 03:29 PM
Great post that really captures entrepreneurial spirit and what makes an entrepreneur! Thank you!

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