"Just in case you haven't heard, the Wallenda factor refers to the fear of falling or failing. Shortly after Karl Wallenda fell to his death in 1978 (traversing a 75-foot high wire in downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico), his wife, also an aerialist, discussed that fateful San Juan walk, “perhaps his most dangerous.” She recalled: “All Karl thought about for three straight months prior to it was falling. It was the first time he’d ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all his energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope.”
Life is like traversing a tight rope. If you think you need a safety net, it won’t be long before you fall. Live your life without a safety net, or be prepared to live your life close to the ground.
Certainly as a business we have operated with a safety net, as dictated by the standards by which we must comply, SSAE16 and PCI compliance, but over the years, we have always sought to be a technology leader. We strive to offer "insanely great" software, to coin the phrase used by Steve Jobs.Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist says, “Pessimism is complacency." I think I would have to say at times I have exercised pessimism in certain situations. I can relate it to looking in the mirror each morning and thinking, “I’m not getting any younger or thinner, for that matter.”
Last year I spoke of challenges. This year, our 24th year in business, I believe anything's possible! Last year I spoke of good fortunes, we were fortunate enough to have earned another year in business. I said I was proud of the intellectual property (IP) and talent we had. This year I am confident our talent pool here is second to none. Everyone has bought into The Rational Optimist theme, “Everybody is working for everybody else.” Whereas last year I said opportunities present challenges.
We have faced those challenges. We have conquered many and we are prepared to conquer the future. While politicians in Washington scrum over the economy and jobs, free market goes out and creates 100 mpg cars, even driverless cars. We need to tell our politicians…anything’s possible. This year we will focus again on making our products easier to use, easier to install and cloud ready. Inside Integra, we will continue to concentrate on developing and acquiring better tools to do our jobs in a more productive environment. Last year’s message was, “Attitude is everything.”
Celebrating twenty-four (24) years in business March 7th, 2012, we will continue to encourage a positive attitude in the workplace, with our customers, partners and suppliers. Everybody is working for everybody else (click on the picture to the left for the video) because again.... anything’s possible. Finally, last year I predicted growth would be our next greatest challenge and we grew significantly. We remain well positioned to take advantage of those significant gains in 2012 and beyond. Alan J. Wiessner, President and CEO, Integra Business Systems, Inc.
I’ll leave you with a great although somewhat unsettling video (click on the photo) and when you feel that wave of pessimism coming on, remember anything’s possible, well almost anything...
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit." -- Aristotle
The number 23 certainly doesn't solicit much sensation. Not like 25 or 50, still a milestone all the same for many businesses, especially today on when we are all on twitter time. 140 characters or less now defines us!
From his book, Lasting Lessons from the Corner Office, Todd G. Buchholtz, quotes a line from a futuristic movie and someone saying, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads, we just need people made of the right stuff.”
He goes on to say, “One of the statistics out there is that 33 percent of all new businesses fail within the first two years. That number is much higher when you look at the first five years.”
There are a lot of articles, books and blogs out there portraying entrepreneurship in the same sentence with risk, blind luck, or just plain foolish. Many of the pundits will never know first-hand the emotional roller coaster ride.
Well let me be your Garmin. I can take you there.
There are hundreds of thousands of small business entrepreneurs that are made of the “right stuff.” I formed Integra Business Systems, Inc. March 7th, 1988. Looking back, it was, the most frightening, yet most enjoyable year, I had experienced professionally, for some time. Funny, since I was unemployed and unemployable.
For more than a year, my corporate headquarters occupied the guest bedroom in the same house we still own and occupy today. When I look back on how I survived and managed to squeak out a living those first few years I have to say it had to do with confidence and faith in myself and the support of my family. Yeah, we were scared. I don’t want you to think I’m bragging. I have never done anything heroic. I have made sacrifices, but nothing on the same level of a police officer, fireman or soldier. Tongue in cheek, maybe I have potential? Maybe in my next life?
As is the case with many small business start-ups, entrepreneurs, I had to liquidate all my savings; then borrow from friends and family to make ends meet. I borrowed from credit cards, transferred funds from one card to the next, worked the low percentage offers, played the shell game with credit cards. Yet, I never defaulted on a credit card or a loan.
My experience at NCR Corp. and subsequently at a start-up, North American Business Supply (NABS), operating as a subsidiary of a small bank data-processing company, became invaluable, learning to make something from nothing at all; learning to trust my own instincts, even in the face of overwhelming doubt.
One of the important things I have learned after over 35 years in this business is “don’t burn bridges”. Often times the organization you dislike the most is composed of people you like the most. Many of my business associates from my NCR and NABS days kept the faith and helped me build a line of products and services for whom I hold undying loyalty.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Buchholz observed the CEOs who’s lives he explored all had one thing in common, “At some point they all tumbled into failure and heard trusted friends whisper, “Quit.”
Most small business owners and entrepreneurs will tell you the word “quit” just isn’t in their vocabulary. And that shapes the American dream after all, does it not?
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