Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Belated New Year Blog – A Five Year Long March to Entrepreneur Freedom

OK so I have been absent from blogging for many months!  2011 came to a close and the New Year, 2012, came storming in.  The year of the end according to the Mayan’s has begun and yet I feel a sense of renewal and rebirth of sorts.

The depths of the recession started way back in late 2007 and hit me personally hard in late 2008, continued in 2009 and felt I hit the very lowest in 2010.  In 2011 I felt things were getting lined up for us to start climbing out of the economic misery that had lasted a long 3 ½ years. 

On January 23, 2012 I celebrated 5 years with my small business FMW Fasteners ( that I bought in partnership with Steve Baker and Ron Shaw.  Yes we passed the 5 year mark, the critical milestone that most small business owners mark on their calendars when they start this long march to entrepreneurship freedom.  And yes this has been a gruesome march through the deep dark jungles of misery, business torture, and hardship that only the three of us can understand.  It’s impossible for me to measure and articulate what the three of us have gone through and in many ways our journey still seems to only be starting.   This has been analogous to being stranded in a jungle with no resources, no communication and nobody to help except yourself.   And yes we are not out of the forest yet, although sunlight is now visible and there is a path we are taking that is showing the road to freedom from the prison of recession and a business startup.

The story of FMW is a continuing story and in many ways Chapter One is still being written.  When we started this business we had a plan and a vision which would have taken us three to five years to execute - had everything gone as planned.  When we took over FMW in Jan 2007, no one predicted the Great Recession.  These plans we had created for ourselves were out the window of course and we got into this endless cycle of trying to reinvent ourselves.  Our ultimate goal was to take an antiquated industry to an online machine!  That journey was complicated and thrown off course by the economic catastrophe, compounded by the inexperience of three guys with extreme technical background in an industry plagued with old school legacy methods.  This was classic “Lost” in the fastener world!   But the strong faith in our partnership and the collective ability of the three of us complementing each other’s skills and looking out for our blind spots we knew we could pull through.  Many events occurred some under our control and many completely out of our control that constantly derailed us from our mission.  But we continued to move forward and accomplish a slow march towards taking this company to the online business that you see today.

And so the last quarter of 2011 rolled in, the momentum was on our side and we finally saw our webstore catching traction with customers.  We saw the numbers growing and the success finally happening; albeit still immature.  As I mentioned, we are still in Chapter One – the beginning.  But I must say that we have brought to fruition a vision that many industry leaders said cannot be done.  Steve, Ron and I persisted through.  Many times when I thought “how in the hell is this going to work?” Both Steve and Ron said, “I know this will work!”

So now the New Year has flown by!  I must report that FMW is on a growth path again- finally!  We are now preparing for Chapter Two and onwards.  In many ways, we reset our 5 year clock many times because we had to “start over” so many times I forget the count.  We would try, fail and try again!  We never gave up and more importantly my partners Steve and Ron never allowed us to give up. 

We have sacrificed tremendously and that sacrifice has paid its dividends ten folds!  It will continue to pay dividends for our lifetimes.  And that is something there are no words to describe the value that I carry with me today.  FMW is the ultimate fruits of our long labor and we are just beginning.  I can only hope that our fire and desire to strive for the continuous innovation and continuous passion to want a better answer always continues…and with this team it surely will, I know.  Yes we will disagree and we will passionately question each other – but that is precisely the medicine and the formula that allowed us to get here.   No one knows what the next 5 years will bring….I do know that if we have learned something in the past 5 years then I am not worried about the challenges that are yet to come.  And yes there will be challenges no doubt, but that is indeed the game we bargained for and we are ready.

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