Muskego - All of his life, Bob Miller worked for somebody else, but he always targeted something more.
Specifically, the Muskego man dreamed of opening his own businesses, one that would help others enjoy the outdoors as he does. In time, he tied that dream to an interest in the sport he loves: archery.
Not surprisingly, Miller worried about all the things that could go wrong, and he didn't exactly find universal encouragement.
"My buddies told me I was nuts" to consider starting a business, Miller said.
But some motherly advice - during a visit to his in-laws in Muskego - rang truer and changed his life.
Pat Niemann remembers telling her son-in-law, "If you don't follow your dreams and your passion, you'll be playing the what-if game the rest of your life."
A change in direction
Miller had already started getting the legalities in order to start up a business in archery when he got a little push. A national outdoor retailer shut down the store at which he ran the hunting department.
For Miller, who said he made good money on the job, that reality at first shook his financial world. Though the store's closing provided him with an impetus to pursue his proprietary dream, Miller admitted that he at first simply began looking for another job. He was conflicted.
"I was looking for jobs, but then wondering," he said. "I felt I really want to this - but."
What he needed was encouraging to reinforce his mother-in-law's words, and he found in phone conversations with customers of the old store. Both hunters and target shooters were calling to ask him if he would be willing to get their bows in shape.
With that core of clientele, Miller followed his aim, opening BK III Archery, 7957 W. Wind Lake Road, in Wind Lake.
He figured stocking the store would cost a bundle, and it did, and he knew he had to attract more customers than his initial core group. But he had faith that they would come, and built a business plan that balanced his risks and sharpened his financial aims.
And now two years later, his store, which sells bows from top manufacturers plus accessories and services, is doing just fine.
"Way better than I thought," Miller said, noting that he opened in a struggling economy in 2010.
Customers come from as far away as Chicago, Green Bay and west of Madison.
Staying on target
Niemann proudly looks at her son-in-law and sees an inspirational story.
Miller said he's glad he followed that motherly advice.
"I think I would always have been second guessing that I should have done it," he said.
And he has some advice for other budding entrepreneurs.
"You'll never know until you try," he said, "Especially if you're out of a job at the time … go for it."
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