IBJOpinion

BIELAWSKI: A surprise swing into entrepreneurship

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

BielawskiWhen I embarked on my 110-day, 48,000-swing, cross-country golf odyssey, I had prepared for the rigors of hitting 500-600 golf balls a day on deserted roads in 100-degree heat. I had carefully planned our route and conducted a feasibility study to determine our equipment needs and the days it would take to hit a ball from Ventura, Calif., to Charleston, S.C.

What I hadn’t prepared for was becoming an accidental entrepreneur.

At nearly halfway into my journey, I’ve had a crash course on how to run a not-for-profit, all while keeping my job of hitting a golf ball across the country to raise $100,000 in scholarships for Providence Cristo Rey High School students.

Management

The biggest unanticipated issue is supervising a team of three while coordinating activities of a remote team composed of social media, fundraising and accounting. My support team includes two videographers documenting our journey and my cousin, Nick, who drives the camper.

Logistics

When and what are we going to eat? Do we have enough water and gas? Where are we going to park for the night? Does it have electric and water hookup?

When you live together in a small camper under rough conditions, these kinds of questions can consume you. Anticipating 2-1/2 days to cross the desert, with no cellular or other services and only two days’ supply of water and gas, logistics need to be part of your strategic planning.

Crisis management

The truck hauling our camper got a flat tire on a dirt road in rural New Mexico aptly named Smugglers Lane. Not only would it cause a big delay in our carefully planned journey, it was also possible that no one would come along for hours.

I drove the Gator 30 miles to the nearest house for help. Our most important job was to remain calm, plot solutions and make sure our water and food reserves could get us through a worst-case scenario.

Social media

I’m fairly green to social media, but it is a vital part of any marketing effort. We’re using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our website to spread our message, but communication dead zones have been unanticipated bunkers. There have been weeks where we haven’t had cell service or Internet, and it’s forced us to plan ahead with our social media messaging.

Fundraising

I’ve found fundraising to be a balancing act: Keep in touch with donors, but not so much as to annoy. One sponsor has software that’s helping us strike the right balance by tracking donations, addresses, emails, personal information and patterns of donations.

Finances

We work hard to keep expenses to a minimum so we can give as much as possible to Providence Cristo Rey. Everyone knows revenue needs to be greater than expenditures, but that’s even more critical for a not-for-profit like ours. Our goal is to give 90 percent to 95 percent of what we raise to fund scholarships at the school.

When I finish law school in December, I don’t know what my next step will be, but my summer golf trek has given me much more than a powerful swing and maximum hip rotation. I set out to help underserved teens get an excellent education, but this journey has been an education for me, too.•

__________

Bielawski, 24, is a Fishers resident and Indiana University McKinney School of Law student. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Don't Get It
    Why not just save all the money you spent on this and have you and your crew spend the time working at McDonalds? You just wanted to play golf?

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  2. If you only knew....

  3. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

  4. The facts contained in your post make your position so much more credible than those based on sheer emotion. Thanks for enlightening us.

  5. Please consider a couple of economic realities: First, retail is more consolidated now than it was when malls like this were built. There used to be many department stores. Now, in essence, there is one--Macy's. Right off, you've eliminated the need for multiple anchor stores in malls. And in-line retailers have consolidated or folded or have stopped building new stores because so much of their business is now online. The Limited, for example, Next, malls are closing all over the country, even some of the former gems are now derelict.Times change. And finally, as the income level of any particular area declines, so do the retail offerings. Sad, but true.

ADVERTISEMENT