Letter from Ed: Three Keys to Remember When Starting a Business
Pallet Enterprise founder reveals three things that helped him succeed in the years when it came to starting and launching his company and new products.
By Edward C. Brindley, Jr.
Date Posted: 1/1/2018
As one year ends and another begins, I often think back to lessons that I have learned in business. Starting your own company is not for the faint at heart. But there are three keys that have kept me on the right path even in the lean years.
I started Industrial Reporting 40 years ago with no business experience of any kind. I didn’t know what to expect and honestly probably lacked a little confidence in the entrepreneurial category. I was fortunate because my wife’s brother-in-law, Bill Carden, had spent his life in the pallet and sawmill business, and he had a great deal of confidence in me. My family can never emphasize how important his confidence was to our early years in business. The first key I learned is that you never really know how open a door is until you walk through it. A business startup requires a lot of faith in yourself and your business idea. You have to believe in it even when nobody else does, and hold onto the potential through the rough patches.
My life was not devoid of confidence. I went through graduate school on a National Science Foundation Fellowship and earned a Ph.D. in mathematical statistics. But in many ways, I was still very shy when it came to confidence. I was fortunate in that my educational experience did not cost me much financially, but it took dedication to see it through. So, I knew what it meant to be dedicated to a cause which paid off in spades when starting our business venture. I used my skill set to take a chance and start my new business. I believe that the Lord blessed me and my family by giving Bill the fortitude to support my efforts through his encouragement and sometimes guidance. Much of our vision came from his ideas and confidence in me. Certainly, I had some fear and a lot of concern, but in the end, it has been a tremendous blessing.
There is no substitute for a lot of hard work when it comes to building a business. There can be quick ways to make a buck. But building a sustainable business requires time and dedication. I started my company while serving as an associate professor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business. I was working two jobs, and I worked 65+ hours per week. And the only way to keep the business growing was to hire and train people to do things that I didn’t have the time or margin to accomplish.
Good people are essential for a successful company. And your company too must follow a similar path. As you consider 2018, who are the stars in your business that are hiding in plain sight? How can you challenge and resource some employees to step up and do more?
Now in my mid-70s I can rest with confidence that key positions in our business are in good hands. In addition to my two sons and wife who work in key positions in the business, we have a fairly small but very capable staff.
Lastly, you have to make yourself indispensable for your customers. And as publisher, that means developing world-class publications that serve a variety of needs. Our readers want mission-critical information that helps them run better companies.
The key to any success we have had has been making our readers into friends, people who look forward to reading what we put into print. When you write from your heart and gather material from others who do the same, then readers identify with the truths that you write. We try to make each article and issue something worth reading.
Remember that we started from a seed that came out of the pallet industry. Bill Carden and a group of 10 Virginia pallet manufacturers met with me and shared their vision which quickly became mine. It has been a pleasure for our staff to serve our readers. As we enter 2018, our staff stands ready to assist readers in surviving and thriving in the future.
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