We’ve launched Secrets of Success, a new weekly interview series here at Web.com’s Small Business Forum. I’ve asked some of the smartest, most innovative, most successful people I know to share their insights and success secrets.
Meet: Chad Chig Martin, a busy, multitasking entrepreneur, born in the aptly named rural Alabama town of Enterprise. Martin went to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on a football scholarship and then worked in sales for 15 years before deciding to open Thunder Industrial Supply, which sells maintenance and repair parts, from his bedroom.
Martin ran the company out of his bedroom until it hit the multimillion-dollar sales mark. In addition to running Thunder Industrial out of its state-of-the-art facility in Dothan, Alabama, two years ago Martin launched Chig Daddi Entertainment, which offers mobile DJ and video production services.
But that’s not enough to keep Martin busy. He’s also the lead singer of a regionally touring band, Chad Chig Martin and The Alabama Outlaws, and designs his own line of hats for hats.com. Martin is also the ambassador for American Made Matters, a national organization that promotes buying products made in the U.S,
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Chad Martin: I always wanted to be president of the United States. As a 7-year-old mobile home park owner’s son in rural southeastern Alabama growing up amidst peanut and cotton fields, I had pretty high aspirations. And apparently I thought highly of myself.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Martin: I always had a drive internally to be an entrepreneur. Other business owners probably understand what I am referring to. I had the drive and ambition at an early age to do something; I just didn’t know what until later in life.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Martin: Several years ago I was able to get my little company in the middle of a potentially major project. My competitors were all major companies with very deep pockets. I decided in the beginning I was in it to win it. And over the course of nine months, Thunder Industrial was able to secure this project and provide almost a year’s worth of work for skilled craftsmen from our local economy. The project was so big I had to subcontract a big portion of the work out to others. My community, like many others across the country, was hurting, and it was sure nice to know that I played a small role in keeping Americans working.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Martin: The best advice that I could ever give to a small business owner is to stay actively involved in your company’s day-to-day activities. Never become complacent and neglect following up on even the smallest details within your organization.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Martin: I think entrepreneurs should embrace an attitude that includes always trying to say “yes” to customers’ needs and requests. Sometimes companies walk away from easy sales and opportunities simply by not thinking out of the box just a little.
Lesonsky: What’s your prediction for small business?
Martin: Small businesses are going to have to roll up their sleeves and fight hard. Those that do so should have success. Small business success is always based on the leadership skills of the owner. Being organized is critical to small business success.
Lesonsky: Do you have a favorite book?
Martin: My favorite book, The Foxfire Book, is based on Appalachian Mountain remedies and potions. This book sparked my creativity and imagination and that is why I always liked it so much.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Martin: I have always lived by one quote that was on the wall of my high school football locker room: “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.