Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Glenn Washburn, Owner of JWL Hardware, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
JWL Hardware designs and manufactures modern cabinet handles and knobs, internal door handles, and glass door handles. Their sleek profile and solid, stainless-steel fabrications are applied as oversized appliance door handles, barn door handles, push-pull front door handles, bar pull handles, towel bars, and more. Their uniqueness lies in their modularity they allow for multiple handle configurations, such as a ‘J’ shape, an ‘L’ shape, and so on. The handles and knobs are made of sustainable materials and finishes that are fully recyclable.
Each hand-polished or brushed door handle or cabinet knob provides a slick, flat outer face with an ergonomic, curved back face to allow for an easier, more comfortable pull. The door handles and cabinet handles come in satin brass, polished chrome, brushed nickel, matte black, and satin white, making them a fit for a variety of room designs and contexts. Contextuality was top-of-mind in their design process; they were made to work with a variety of modern interior design motifs. They are noticeable, without feeling out of place.
I mostly cater to the interior design industry; however, some customers find my products at a few select boutique brick-and-mortar stores that carry my product line. I also retail directly to anyone who finds me online through my company website.
Tell us about yourself
My background is in interior design, and I worked for 20+ years as an interior designer. During that time, I saw an opportunity to branch out into product design and introduce some new ideas to the market. I get excited when a new idea gives better-than-expected results. It's my passion to develop innovative designs that work in the real world. I've often heard sound bites and quotes from famous entrepreneurs saying that it's "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration to make it," and Elon Musk famously remarking that "it's actually closer to .01% inspiration and 99.9% perspiration"! I definitely agree with this.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is that my business survived the Covid lockdowns. This is a huge accomplishment for me as not only did the entire city shut down, but the entire continent was basically closed for face-to-face business (and I'm not referring to Zoom meetings). I'm a small business startup, and during those first few precious years, any growth was really attained by knocking on doors and physically going to showrooms to meet people in person. I adapted quickly and launched an eCommerce website that allowed me to keep some revenue coming in while I waited out the storm.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Trusting your ability to make the right decisions and knowing when to get help. I've found that in my situation, I can easily disconnect and push ahead in a company direction that has financial implications only to find that I've gone too far and it's costly to reverse course. If I had consulted a friend or another industry person, then the breaks may have been applied sooner. Regaining the lost confidence and trust afterward is a tricky balance, as it's easy to fall into a pattern of second-guessing yourself.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do an immense amount of market research prior to putting any money in. When you think you've done enough research, do more.
- If you're thinking of providing a physical product for the market, you must clearly recognize that inventory is a liability that needs constant attention. Having a warehouse or place to store products is only one aspect in mired of issues that arise with keeping stock.
- It's a pay-to-play environment. Marketers and social media influencers tend to boast of easy gains and quick results, but the reality is organic growth takes a long time. All of the media platforms online are fully monetized machines that want advertising dollars. Print media is extremely expensive and exhibiting at trade shows is eye-watering expensive. Be prepared to spend more time than expected to get a market presence and organic recognition.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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