Many of today’s business “gurus” and investors do not consider a person an entrepreneur—nor their business a startup—unless they have a high-tech product. Business web sites, blogs, and ezines all seem to promote high-tech as the primary means to innovative salvation of America’s economy.
That’s a shame because with more and more U.S. high-tech being outsourced to other countries, it is now more important than ever that we acknowledge and support the “real” startups—those that do not involve high-tech products. Of the over six million new businesses started each year, only a handful of them are considered high-tech, yet they are the ones that attract the attention of investors, the government, and the media. Very few people acknowledge that the remainder of the six million even exist.
Take for example, Annie Haven, who started her business in 2005 and has steadily grown 30 percent a year ever since…with customers as far away as Spain and Singapore. And what is Annie’s business? She sells dried cow manure on the Internet.
Annie grew up on a cattle ranch and developed a process for drying cow manure and packaging it in 3 inch by 5 inch “tea” bags. The “tea” bags can then be steeped in 5 gallons of water to make liquid fertilizer for plants and gardens. Since the cattle are free range and eat only organic food, the fertilizer is also organic—and all natural.
To me, that is pure innovation…good old-fashioned American ingenuity…and we need to encourage and support more people like Annie Haven. Whether through the media, private investors, or the government, more attention needs to be paid to the “simple” innovations and creations that are being carried out every day by totally unknown and out-of-the-spotlight people.
My hat is off to Annie, and all the many unsung innovative entrepreneurs around the world.