1. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities?
Ans: We are a structural steel supply company in the West Yellowhead region of Alberta and are located in the town of Edson. The majority of our business consists of a large selection of carbon steel products in a variety of shapes and sizes. We do offer some other materials as well, such as aluminum and stainless steel.
2. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements)?
Ans: I am a Journeyman Pipefitter and Journeyman Gasfitter. I have owned and operated a successful construction and maintenance company in the oil and gas industry for the past 16 years.
3. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: The inspiration for the new business venture came about for a few reasons. The first was the major supplier in the area decided to retire and left a large void in the market and we were having trouble finding the products we needed for our other company. The second reason was this would be a good way to diversify our business. With the downturn in oil and gas we felt if we could service some other industries such as mining, forestry, and farming, we would be able to navigate the stormy waters of the current economy a bit easier. Thirdly this business seemed to go hand in hand with our other business and would be another way to give us an advantage over our competitors.
4. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans :1) Be sure there is a need for what you are offering, just because you enjoy something or have a hobby does not mean that there are enough people who share your enthusiasm to support it as a business.
2) When first starting out be prepared to work long hours, you will be at the office long before your employees and long after they leave at the end of the day. 3) Be prepared to be a business owner not just self-employed. You will not be able to do everything, so do what you do well and delegate the other tasks to those that do them well.
5. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: 1) Being able to glance at a balance sheet and know exactly where you are financially and make quick adjustments if need be.
2) Top notch people skills, you will be dealing with customers, employees, accountants, bankers, lawyers, etc. and you will have to know how to deal with them all to get the most out of the relationships. 3) You cannot be scared to drop an idea and cut your losses, not every idea you have will be a good one and the longer you try to make it work the more you will lose with it. Dump it and move on.
6. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: When first getting started 14-16 hour days on average. Now that things are established and lessons have been learned the average work day is about 10 hours.
7. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: I have always tried to go into each business dealing, whether it be with a customer or employee, with integrity and honesty. If you do this and something does not go according to plan, they know that you had the best of intentions in mind and will be forgiving and do their best to help you out.
8. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: We have used our website, Facebook, newspaper ads, radio ads, and billboards. All have had success and I believe that the variety helps as it touches all the senses and people start to associate the different forms together. Once thing get moving good old word of mouth seems to be the best. Treat your customers great and they will definitely refer you to their friend and colleagues.
9. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: Most of the capital came from our own investments and a small portion from family. Funding/capital is extremely hard to get and can become one of the most frustrating parts of business ownership. Be prepared to struggle financially the first few years and do not expect the banks to go out of their way to assist you.
10. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Be adaptable and willing to change on the fly to the ever changing needs of your business.
11. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: It is my goal to have the management teams and qualified people in place to run the business with very minimal supervision and enjoying my semiretirement.
12. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: I admire any company that was built from the ground up with hard work, perseverance, and integrity.
13. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: Without them we would not be where we are today, and it is important to let them know that. I have always believed that a company is only as good as the people it has working for it.
14. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: Not long. If it is not going to work, get rid of it and try a new idea.
15. What motivates you?
Ans: To make sure my family is provided for and has the opportunity to do all the things that they would like to try. To get my work done so I can adjust my hours of work to suit the needs of my family so that I can be at their events and enjoy in their efforts and successes.
16. What are your ideals?
Ans: You never get ahead by knocking someone else down and always deal with everything in life with honesty and integrity.
17. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: Observe people and really listen to what they are saying and the ideas will flow to you.
18. How do you define success?
Ans: By having enough time and money that you can enjoy your family without outside worries and distractions.
20. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Remembering that without your customers you do not have a business and ensure that every customer leaves satisfied. In this day and age of social media one unsatisfied customer can do enormous damage to your customer base with a couple of key strokes.
21. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: The ability to make my own hours and work while my children are in bed so that I can be there for them when needed.
22. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: There are so many, the first time you make a sale, the first employee you pay, the first time you hear your business being mentioned in public, they all put a smile on your face.
23. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: The willingness to take risks. To be an entrepreneur you must be willing to take risks and be prepared to lose it all in order to become successful.
24. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans: It is a family culture and I believe it is not something that is instituted but just followed. I am a family person and the people seem to follow the lead and help each other find success just as you would in your family unit.
25. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur?
26. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: Nothing. Each part of my life has lead me to this point and made me who I am and I wouldn’t change a thing.
27. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: It has given me the opportunity to work under my terms and be there for my family and watch my children grow up.
28. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans: I do not really have any fears as it comes to the business and know that we will make adjustments as need be.
29. How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans: In our town there is very limited business space and when a spot of the appropriate size became available we took it.
30. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: No. I believe every individual and business idea is different and although ideas may end up at the same point, there are infinite possibilities on how to get there.
31. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans: Attila the Hun. He seemed to be an astute judge of character and a leader of men.
32. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans: My father. I saw how hard he worked to be successful and provide for his family and how he gave me every opportunity to have a great childhood and life.
33. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Ans: ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing’ by Marie Kondo. If you follow the methods she sets out it is amazing how much you can get done in a day and the freedom your mind gets from an organized environment.
34. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans: Holding onto an idea for too long before moving onto the next one.
35. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans: You cannot prevent mistakes, but it is how quickly you recover from it. There is no reason to stand around and point fingers or find someone to blame, move on, fix the mistake, and get back on track as soon as possible.
36. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans: My hobbies include chasing my children to their activities and fitting in some coaching of youth sports.
37. What makes you happy?
Ans: Sharing in the successes of my family, and of my work family. It gives me great pleasure to watch people grow and find their own successes.
38. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Especially when getting started you go with very little as all your finances seem to go into the business. You don’t get the vacations, the vehicles, or the toys that even your employees do while you grow the company, but in the long run the payoff is great.