Entrepreneurship is one of the most appealing words in the world of business. For some the chance to establish and run a business that is wholly one’s own creation and passion certainly poses opportunity for satisfaction in a daily occupation. As good as that may sound, nearly every small business owner has a story to share about the extreme obstacles, challenges and lifestyle changes that occurred in during the process of getting their operation up and running effectively. CREDC sat down with Ian Morrison, founder of The Underground Bike Shop located in Harrisburg’s Midtown district, to talk about the challenges that come with starting a small business and what it means to have the “persona of an entrepreneur.”
The Underground Bike Shop repairs and re-purposes old and used bicycles to provide people with quality bicycles at an affordable price. Ian’s story begins on the fields of his grandfather’s farm where it would be no surprise to find him, “Down to his elbows in the crank case of an old tractor.” Here Ian recognized fulfillment working with mechanical processes and creating beautiful functioning machinery. The first challenge for Ian was how to use his mechanical know-how in a more practical manner in the suburbs of central Pennsylvania – Bicycles; one, two, ten, hundreds of bicycles.
Repairing and restoring bicycles became Ian’s new hobby and borderline obsession. He began to embed himself in the bicycle community by volunteering and working at bicycle shops around the area. After receiving nearly a dozen calls a day requesting quality used bicycles Ian realized that there was a local demand for what he was already producing in his backyard.
The concoction of a developed passion, dissatisfaction with working on somebody else’s watch, and an untapped niche led Ian toward the decision to start what is today The Underground Bike Shop.
The Shop did not become what it is today in a blink of an eye, and challenges were no stranger during the process. Finding a building that would serve the city and the bike shop’s needs required a large personal investment, small business financing, overcoming zoning complications, and much more. “It is expensive to start a business; you must invest a lot of capital to get started.” The business becomes your life; Ian works six to seven days a week often in excess of 80 hours a week. He commented, “People ask me if I’m in a relationship and I just tell them I am married to my business. However, I can manage it because I don’t feel like I am working. It’s what I love to do.”
Entrepreneurship is a challenging task that takes an extreme personality. Starting and managing a small business takes time, resources, a developed plan and passion, and often a willingness to sacrifice lifestyles apart from the business. Entrepreneurship is alive and well. People will always gravitate toward a small business that fills a need in the community and support those dedicated, calculated entrepreneurs who made it happen.