My Library and Courses
Last Update: Friday December 14, 2018

Key Idea: Do Whatever it Takes

Master the mystery behind your business success.

Key Question:


You have to do what has to be done even if an employee doesn't show up for work.

Q:  Why would the owner of a tour company be getting his hands greasy by working on an engine?

A: Because it needed to be done. Sure he has someone assigned to the task but if that person doesn't show up or if Andy is close to the problem when it flares up, as was the case when we were there, he just does it.  This is a tactic used by many owners.  They are trained on every task and they are present nearly all of the time and this is motivational and inspirational to employees.  This works especially well when employees are young or seasonal or short-term.

Q: How do owners sustain enthusiasm?

A:  We see our work as our play. At 90 years of age, Ebby Halliday is still coming in to work everyday because there is nothing else she would rather do.

Think about it this way. When kids are sitting in a classroom studying a subject they don't like, time seems to stand still. When the bell rings to dismiss the class, the kids shoot for the door with an incredible force of energy that has been building up during the course of the 50-minute class. On the playground, the same kid that was nearly asleep in class, is running to dodge a ball or put one over home plate.

Unlike kids, adults get confused between work and play. We're not psychologists, but we know what we see and how we feel. Kids are honest; they don't fake it. The saddest thing in the workforce is a person who actually thinks work is work. The right attitude is to see your work as play. Child psychologists say that play is the work of children. So, why can't work be the play of adults? At Small Business School we say that a job is something you are doing when you would rather be doing something else. Fortunately, most small business owners don't have a job, they have work that seems as if it is play. To get to this place they have made the right choices for themselves. People who don't understand this concept actually think small business owners have it easy because it seems as if we can do what we want when they want to do it. However, we arrived at our position through putting forth years and years of effort. And all along the way, we actually thought what looked like to others to be work was play.

Think about it

Do you see your work as your play? Does this frustrate your family since it probably means you spend long hours working?

Clip from: Boston Duck Tours: The Money is Out There

Boston: Meet Andy Wilson, founder of Boston Duck Tours. A Massachusetts Small Business Person of the Year, he turned three passions into a single business – his love of Boston, his respect for early American history, and the Charles River.

First, he wants us all to know the history of this country's early struggles for religious toleration, freedom, equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Learn how such passion moved him to quit his job and raise over $1M to launch this dream -- an 80-minute, historically-narrated tour from an authentic World War II amphibious landing craft.

Take the tour now as we wander the narrow streets of Boston and splash down onto the Charles River for the grande tour Boston.

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...
Go to the homepage of this episode of the show...

Boston Duck Tours

Cindy Brown, CEO (Andy Wilson, founder)

3 Copely Place
Suite 310
Boston, MA 02116

Visit our web site:

Office: 6172673825

Business Classification:
Entertainment / education

Year Founded: 1994

Do Whatever it Takes

Unidentified Employee #1: Now I just got a call from Waterfront Wanda. They have an electrical problem down at the ramp, so they need our duck.

ANDY: It's this wire. You see how the--there's nothing we can do with it. Just see how that just split right off?

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Running a successful business often means you have to run it hands-on, as we found out before boarding one of the ducks.

ANDY: They're mechanical, they're bound to break down, at some point, you know? So--but what you try and do is do your best to--in terms of managing the business, you do everything you can to try and do it--you know, repairs and preventative maintenance, under your own terms.

HATTIE: So you're one of the official maintenance persons?

Unidentified Employee #2: Yeah. There's me and five--well, four other guys, and I'm one of the two that does breakdowns right now.

HATTIE: Good. So you're having fun?

Employee #2: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It's the best job I've ever had, so...

ANDY: I thought, at some point, it would get easy. I think that's what surprised me. It hasn't gotten any easier. You know, I thought, at some point, it would be up and running. You know, we have our customers, we're profitable, I have a stable staff, I have, you know--but every day, there's a new problem. As I like to say, `Business is a state of perpetual motion.'

(Voiceover) You just don't sit back and say, `OK, it runs on its own.'

Two weeks before we opened, after I pulled this all together, the city came back and said `You have to make these things wheelchair accessible.' And I was horrified.

HATTIE: You were out of money.

ANDY: Well, no, I'd raised the money. But here I'd hired--I'd finally hired the people, you know--pulled the--raised the money, hired the people, got the permits together, the duck...

HATTIE: Got the ducks.

ANDY: Got the ducks, and all of a sudden, they're saying you had to become wheelchair accessible, two weeks to opening day. And the night before opening day, this piece of equipment, this wheelchair lift to be able to get the wheelchair six feet off the ground to get it into the duck, came the night before. And that morning, at 8:30 in the morning, the accessibility people were there, and I demonstrated that I complied with all the ADA standards, and they wouldn't issue the last permit to me until I could do that. And a half an hour before our grand opening event on the front steps of the Statehouse, I got the permit. So I walked up to the event, you know--ran up to the event from the office, holding my permits, saying, you know, `I'm really open!' It was quite--quite...

HATTIE: `We're in business!'

ANDY: Yeah, we're in business. I had the sightseeing permit.

Not a member yet? Learn!  Be empowered! Join us!