The past two years have been challenging for many businesses, small and large. So when I heard that Ted Dennard’s Savannah Bee Company expanded from wholesale into bricks-and-mortar retail with its first store in the Fall of 2008, and then went on to achieve 33 percent growth in 2009, I had to ask him how he did it. His answer came in three parts: tenacity, optimism, and flexibility.
Tenacity: Ted started as a beekeeper, selling honey to local stores. Eventually, national stores started calling him, and in 2002, he incorporated the company. He called his early business strategy “trial by fire”: “In the beginning, I put everything into it, money, time, sweat, equity. I thought if it fails, it won’t be because I didn’t do everything I could. Dogged tenacity is what I’d call it.”
Optimism: “I have an innate quality of being ridiculously optimistic. I always think things will work out for the best, and that’s helped me to get through. As an entrepreneur you need that because things always take a lot longer and are more complex than you expect them to be. But once they pay off, it’s so worth it.”
Flexibility: “Nothing is going to turn out exactly the way you envisioned, so you need to remain flexible and open to new opportunities that arise. We didn’t expect to have the opportunity to purchase a 40,000 sq. ft. warehouse when we did, especially when it was at the same time we were opening our first store. Of course it ended up taking longer for each, and the expenses were higher, creating our worst year for cash flow. But we got through it, and even made it into the Inc. 5000 that same year. So we’re doing pretty well.”
Given the fact that Ted has recently opened a second and third store, launched a new website, and plans to open more stores and expand internationally in the future, I hope to speak with him again soon to share more of his story.
By Marcy Shinder
GM, Business Charge Cards Marcella (Marcy) Shinder oversees marketing for OPEN’s Charge products, leading programs designed to educate business owners in Card usage and benefits. Marcy has spearheaded a number of initiatives since joining OPEN, where she most recently led the brand marketing team in charge of OPENforum.com, Government Contracting and Advocacy programs, and OPEN Book, a guide offering actionable information to lead entrepreneurs through key business decisions. Previously, Marcy served as Vice President, Global Marketing for American Express Business Travel; Vice President, Strategic Planning, for Global Financial Services; and Vice President, Business Development, for International Corporate Services based in Paris
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