On Friday, I raised my right hand, and, along with 13 other people, swore the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America. I swapped my (not) Green Card for a Certificate of Citizenship, shook a few hands and walked out of the INS office a freshly-minted, so-new-I-squeak American citizen.
The local director of our INS office told us to take this day and do something important with it. After all, she said, it’s not every day you become a citizen of the United States. Today your life, and the lives of your family, changes forever, and you should make it count. So, after a stop at the Registrar of Voters, I did. I went into my office and started work for the day.
I have lived and worked in three different countries now. But it is in this country that I became a business owner. It is in this country that I learned the final skill – entrepreneurship – that is required of all business owners who want to succeed. It is in this country that I learned how to take what I know and package that knowledge into a marketable product. I’m not sure my business could exist in Canada for a number of reasons. The different tax, legal and regulatory system probably wouldn’t allow it to survive. By contrast, in America, my business supports myself, my family, my new associate, and by extension, my community, my state, and my new country. It is to this country (and its citizens) that I give my heartfelt thanks today and most every other day.
Sometimes newcomers to this country see things differently. I know for myself, what I saw and continue to see here, is opportunity. It is much easier to begin a business here than any other country I’ve lived in. There are tax breaks and legal protections available here that do not exist elsewhere. There are opportunities to improve upon what you know, and to attract like-minded people to help you grow. And, all things considered, there is considerably less government or other regulatory intrusion into your business than you may realize.
Here, with a dream, and a little paperwork, you’re on the road. Where the road takes you is largely up to you, and how you drive. You might choose to boldly venture forth without a map and see what happens. Maybe you’ll find your destination, or maybe you won’t. You could even wind up somewhere you never expected to go, but, once there, you like it just fine. Or you may choose to install a “Tom-Tom” full of advisors, check directions as you go, hopefully not run out of gas or have engine trouble along the way, and arrive with plenty of time for dinner before watching the sun go down.
Whatever the business road you’re driving, today take pride in the fact that you’re on the road. If you’re still thinking about taking that road trip, good! I hope you find the courage to push the pedal down.