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(Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
(Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Start: Mark Evans

Hot-dog vendor finds niche, rents dress shoes Add to ...

Becoming an entrepreneur happens for a variety of reasons.

In my case, the decision to start ME Consulting emerged after I was laid off from an online start-up in the middle of the recent economic downtown. For some people, the decision to do something entrepreneurial happens because they have a vision or see an opportunity with far too much potential.

I heard a great example of the latter in the hockey dressing-room yesterday. While most stories told in the dressing room stay in the dressing room, this is one is too good not to be retold.

The person who told the story works in the travel industry, and he was attending a conference in South Africa, as well as taking in some of the sites. After watching a rugby game in Durban, his friends wanted to hit a nightclub.

It happened to be the hottest nightclub in Durban. It’s also where the rugby players visited after the game. There was a huge lineup to get in.

As luck would have it, our intrepid traveller saw someone he knew near the front of the line. His providence, however, came to an abrupt stop when a beefy doorman said he couldn’t come in wearing running shoes.

So, what do you do? Well, our traveller was told to visit a hot dog cart.

This was not just any old hot dog cart but a cart run by an entrepreneur who had seen an opportunity emerge right in front of her, and had done something about it.

It turns out our intrepid traveller was not the first person to arrive without wearing dress shoes. As a result, the hot dog vendor decided to address this need by putting together a large collection of men’s dress shoes that running-shoe-wearing nightclub attendees could rent.

For anyone desperately needing dress shoes, they visit the hot dog cart, find a pair of shoes that sort of fit, pay a rental fee, and leave their shoes behind. After leaving the nightclub, you take the rental shoes back, and pick up your shoes. And there is probably a good chance most people buy a hot dog as well.

This is a perfect example of how becoming an entrepreneur just happens sometimes. The key lesson is that while many see opportunities, not everyone actually makes it happen.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers ‘stories’ for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups – Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye – so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

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