You have grand entrepreneurial dreams, but uncertainty and fear of failure are holding you back. The fact is, there’s no better time to start a new business or expand an old one than right now. You can make it all happen by embracing the core principles of one remarkable family.
Today, we have father and son duo, Glenn and Jordan Edwards, and they are the authors of This Is It. Over the past decade, this team of visionaries have built numerous profitable companies from the ground up and today, they tell us actionable tools to help us begin creating a strong, viable and enduring commercial enterprise, today.
Here’s our conversation with Glenn and Jordan.
Glenn Edwards: We came out of deep recession in the mid-2000s, where credit tightened up, so tight that it really was a hamstring on new business creation. As a serial entrepreneur and business investor, mostly in my own businesses, but now in other businesses, I felt that the marketplace was a shadow off to small business startups. The only place they could find capital was through family and friends and, if they had a phenomenal idea, maybe an angel investor, but they were few and far between. The traditional sources were not readily available.
Rounding out to 2014–2016 the economy started to improve, the stock market started to improve, and then with the current administration, taking some of the regulations of banks because they really went hamstrung.
When you spoke to a bank, all they told you was what they couldn’t do and why I couldn’t lend to you and what you needed, and it was impossible for someone to borrow. And all of a sudden, you saw the restrictions coming off. I said to Jordan, “We’re an era where there’s going to be more new business creation than this country has ever seen.”
People don’t know how to do it necessarily, so that was my inspiration to write the book, to try to help people that had access to capital now and give them tips to give them the highest possibility of success.
Action Items from This Is It
Rae Williams: What would you say in this book is the actionable item that people can work on this week, tomorrow, what is the biggest emphasis of the book?
Jordan Edwards: Well, the book starts out with just starting, you know? Getting over the fear of taking that leap, that jump. It gives a lot of real-world examples from our life both in business and not in business, great business metaphors for just starting.
Glenn Edwards: I’m kind of a fearless businessman. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes and doesn’t mean that I haven’t jumped in too quickly times, but I’m kind of fearless on at least the starting. My mind races with ideas all day, and then I try to implement achievable ideas rapidly.
So, to start a business, I don’t think you have to have every single thing figured out along the way. I think you just have to have your first one or two or three steps figured out, and then you got to jump in and do it. You can’t wait for the water to get warm, you can’t dip your toe in slowly, you got to be ready to jump in.
Jordan Edwards: Yeah, I would just add that dad is 60. He’s the gray hair, he’s been to the mountain top, he’s had unbelievable successes. I’m on the journey.
I talk about the fear that I’ve had in the book. I talk about overcoming that fear, and if you haven’t been there before, it could be terrifying.
Part of this book is you’re standing on that ledge and we want to make that ledge wider for you by giving you some of our examples from business.
Rae Williams: What are some of the things that we can do to start to combat that fear as we approach entrepreneurship?
Jordan Edwards: I think the biggest thing is fear of failure, you know? People think of all the scary monsters on the other side of their idea. They have the great idea, they sit on it, they think about it, they want to do it, but there’s just that little bit of fear holding them back.
Just yesterday, I had lunch with a very good friend of mine. She has risen up incredibly high in her career.
She’s a social media influencer for her job, and she wants to go out as an entrepreneur. And she’s saved up all this money over the past five years and she’s scared that she was going to lose it. She came out and said to me, “I don’t have a back stop for my parents, if I invest in this new clothing business, I’m scared I’m going to lose the initial investment.”
I told her that’s a real fear, but if you have the burning desire to be an entrepreneur, you’ve been so successful in all these other parts of your life, even if you do encounter some failures, just don’t stop. Get started, and as soon as you get started and pick up momentum, that momentum is going to carry you all the way to success.
Glenn Edwards: Then on my side, so many people tell you and have told you since you’re very young that you don’t have a shot. That it doesn’t work out, that things don’t always turn out great. I know it sounds funny, but I grew up in a household where my parents told me, “You’re unbelievable.” They told me, “You could do anything you try.”
They were business owners, small business owners. Went to work every day with the struggles, with all the challenges of being in business, and came home smiling every day.
I had influences that said to me, “Business is fun, the challenges aren’t overwhelming, don’t be scared to try.”
Jordan mentions it in the book that he grew up around my father who taught me, and he grew up with me and we talked about these things at the dinner table, but not everybody has those dinner table conversations. Some of those dinner table conversations are all about trying to beat the man.
The man’s going to hold you down. We just don’t believe in that. It’s not who we are.
Rae Williams: In the book you talk about focusing on your foundation and building a strong culture. Why are these particularly important to entrepreneurship?
Jordan Edwards: When we started building Mixology clothing company, it was so mom and pop at the beginning. One store, this idea, the concept was bringing fast fashion into a boutique setting. A more moderate price point, where boutiques typically had a higher price point.
And that little idea sparked our business today, and while we were growing it and we wanted to take it from that mom and pop operation and start to migrate towards a real medium sized business. The whole beginning was just about whatever innate talent we had. Whatever drive we had, except that doesn’t get you to the next level.
You need to go outside yourself and learn and continue to grow and continue to work on the fundamentals and build the foundation if you want to get to the next level. That could be things like, I had to go back. Even though I had taken accounting in college, 10 years later I found myself taking a refresher class at Harvard Business School Online.
They offer an 18-week program for accounting. Because I’m the president of this business, I’m in over my head. I have all these people reporting to me, and all of a sudden, I say to myself, “I don’t even know what I’m doing.”
You have to constantly fall back to the fundamentals. I’m always reminded of the stories you hear about Michael Jordan going and just hitting a hundred free-throws before practice or Kobe Bryant after the game is over, win or lose, going back and practicing even harder.
So, those fundamentals and that foundation are so important in business. Sometimes it’s not as explicit. But you’re so wrapped up in all the daily tasks, you have to force yourself to stop and just get better and better all the time. It never ends, in my opinion. Constant learning.
Glenn Edwards: I’m going to talk about the core values of what I think were essential, whether you’re a one-person organization or you’re a multinational corporation. Because both do equally as good and equally as bad. And the core values of a company should be very clear. As a matter of fact, we have them in our mission statement.
We pay vendors first before we pay ourselves. That means our landlord gets paid not on time, but he gets paid early. We know that’s not always common. Our vendors, we pay them on the spot. Everything is COD for us for the most part, unless they want terms themselves to do more business with us. Honesty and integrity and how you treat other people is what we feel is one of the most essential aspects of the whole business.
Because people do business with people. People are very transparent. You can’t be a phony in business. You have to be true to who you are. If you’re a tough character, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to chase people away. Being tough, could be honest and tough. You can have great values and be tough.
You could be sweet as can be and be a liar and never be truthful to somebody.
So you have to be truthful; you have to be honest; you have to care about people that work for you, your customers, your vendors, and that’s what we’re about.
We treat everybody like a customer, whether they’re employee or a vendor. Anybody that we’re doing business with bankers, we treat them all with customers. We try to make sure they like our company and like what we stand for.
Why We Need to Get It Right
Rae Williams: What are some of the other things that you’ve seen when people aren’t approaching culture right, when people aren’t approaching all the different things that you’ve outlined in the book in the right way?
Jordan Edwards: So, I would say, the biggest obstacles for success, once you’ve gotten started is cutting corners. It becomes almost too easy when you start your business to try to work in the gray area. What are the things that means, hanging your people in cash versus on the books, you’ll often hear people say, “I’ll pay them off the books.”
It’s burning vendors. We talk a lot about in our business and in the book about we are the last people to get paid. Most small businesses, the first person to get paid is the owner, they drive fancy cars, they go on vacations with their family, and that was the money that was needed to keep the business supported.
That was the money to pay the vendors, that was the rent check and we have in addition to our retail clothing business, we’re also landlords. So, we’re on two sides of this equation. It’s crazy when we see a tenant who has a small business, they’re driving a fancy car, they just got back from a two-week vacation, and then they walk into our office and tell us that they can’t pay the rent.
We know where that rent money went. So, we try to embody that these principles from both sides.
Glenn Edwards: Entrepreneurship is a talent that has to be continued to be worked on and having the best skills possible. It’s getting into work early; it’s working harder and smarter. If you happen to take in outside money, whether it is family and friends or it is outside capital, you can’t waste a penny of it.
You have to treat every single dollar and deploy every dollar into your business as it should be cherished because you walk around to a lot of new businesses and many of them fail. You know there is a high percentage in your business will fail, and you see ping-pong tables and you see latte machines and you see bringing in on lunch on Fridays.
And I am not saying all of things aren’t wonderful, if you could afford it and you budget for it and it is part of your business plan. But it is not the business plan that I would have with fresh capital from an outsider. I would use that money much more wisely and incent my employees to be loyal and hardworking in other ways that don’t waste investors’ money.
Success with This Is It
Rae Williams: Do you guys have any good examples that you’d like to share of who has gotten the most out of this idea and principle?
Jordan Edwards: We wrote this book for our tight circle of family and friends, employees, investors to let them know what we are all about, to save it for future generations in our family. I was having a dinner meeting and one of the programmers who works with my CTO seemed to be really interested in the book. I go, “Let me ask you a question, you seem to be incredibly interested.”
He said, “Well, five years ago, when I was in college my father passed away. I wish that I had his wisdom and advice and somebody that I could call on and the fact that you wrote this book with him do you realize how incredible that is?”
I just had a baby boy eight months ago and it hadn’t even struck me that we took the time out of the day to put down what we really believe in and work hard on every single day.
Our business philosophies, our wins, our losses, hard won lessons. It is such an incredible experience, and the few people that we shared the book with, the feedback has been unbelievable. Our CFO in the office over here, she read it and she sent me a thank you note that it helped her kick start her diet. One of the things we talk about is exercise, running, being healthy, and she was just so grateful. It just reaffirms why we did it.
Glenn Edwards: It was an unbelievable experience writing with Jordan and watching my baby turned into a business man, take some of the strategies that I have employed throughout my career use them.
We are not the same. We are not carbon copies. His mind works differently, his business day works different than mine. I am a rapid-fire salesman; he is more of a detailed oriented thought out person.
But together we work out very well, never had an argument because at the end of the day, we both are pushing for one thing: to do the job right. The core values, I would say are identical. If anything, he is much more honest than me, and I think I am a really honest guy. So that is my highest compliment to him.
We work hard, and if entrepreneurs read this book and they are ready to put in the effort, we are going to give them a better shot of being somewhat successful or very successful just with a little bit of a roadmap that might help them along their own thoughts.
Jordan Edwards: If I can just add one last thing to that. It is such an important part of my growth over the past 11 years of being in business, has been reading books. These authors have been my outlet.
As an entrepreneur, I didn’t work in some big organization. I didn’t climb my way up. I’ve been figuring this out on the fly and had these amazing entrepreneurs, leaders, soldiers, generals. If they hadn’t put their thoughts down in books, I don’t know where I would be.
I’ve had my dad as a mentor, but on the flip-side of that, I’ve also had so many of these authors as a mentor, and it’s being able to now put our ideas down and just to think that that could help somebody is such an incredible honor.
Rae Williams: What are some of your favorite resources that people can go to, to help them out and some of those could be books or just what you have listed there?
Glenn Edwards: So, as I said earlier, Jordan is this collector of information, and I know he is. I mean I am sitting in his office now, and there’s over 200 books. Business books or books that are important to him in his growth. And if you go into my office, there might be a couple but most of them are the ones I have written.
It is not because I don’t have a thirst for knowledge. I do have a thirst for knowledge. But we come from a different side of the learning and we have different ages, we’re at different stages of our careers so we learn differently.
I am going to have Jordan talk about the resource guide, but when we were putting the book together, and I was listening to Jordan, I am learning as we were writing the book and hearing about all of his resources that he used.
I said, “Jordan, it is not enough for us to just write this book. We have to give the people that read this or that are thirsty for knowledge the chance to keep connecting with us afterwards.”
So, we are setting up a website that we’ll constantly keep updating and adding information and quite frankly it is going to be mostly Jordan. But we are not stopping at the end of the last page on this book with information for people who read the book and believe what we are trying to tell them.
We are going to keep adding to it as we go along.
Jordan Edwards: Yeah, the resources in the book are a sampling of the things that I use every day to do my job, to live a happy, healthy, successful life. In addition to writing this book and running our businesses, I am an active martial artist, I have been practicing Brazilian jujitsu for nine and a half years. It will be 10 years this August. That has been such an important part of my development as a person. My sensei, Nardu, who is also a contributor of this book, once said something so profound to me that it shook me to my core, and I share it in the book.
He said, “You read the book, now become the book.”
Reading these books and having all of these resources, it’s not enough. You can always be a scholar, you can always learn more, you can learn the next technique, but putting them into practice is really the trick. And so, the resources we listed in the book, these are tactics and techniques that I use, but using them is really the trick. We are going to continue to update the website.
There is a lot of stuff that we couldn’t fit in the book that we are going to be listing on the website and I just constantly revisit them every day. I use them, I am reading a new book. It will give me a new idea and I keep what I want to use and then I put aside some of the things that haven’t been successful for me. It is just about a daily grind.
You just can’t stop. That’s really the ultimate resource. It’s Tony Robbins, the ultimate resource is resourcefulness.
A Challenge from Glenn and Jordan Edwards
Rae Williams: If you guys had to issue a challenge to your readers, people listening to us right now, anybody who is interested in entrepreneurship, what would that challenge be?
Jordan Edwards: So, the most important thing is just find that thing that’s scaring you and do it. Start with something so small. The thing that I talk about in the book is running.
Running was so scary for me; I was bad it. I said I didn’t like it. I don’t run, I don’t like to run, and I went out for a run that day. You will read about this, and I just didn’t stop and it has become such an important part of my life. If you’re just dead set on being a runner, think about that person that you wanted to get in touch with.
Who is your hero? Is it an author, an athlete? Try to get in touch with them, call them, email them, find them. If you can do that and develop a relationship with somebody that person even if they talk to you for just one minute could become an important mentor in your life, and you’ll never know you could develop a friendship with them.
Glenn Edwards: And for me, you know life is constantly evolving, but if you are an entrepreneur, you are an entrepreneur. On Shark Tank, Mark Cuban says to many people, you’re a wantrepreneur. You really don’t want to do what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
He refers back to so many of his own stories, and what I do in this book, it talks about when he was selling magazines as a pre-teen and then he would knock on doors doing the next job and he never didn’t have a job.
Those are the kind of character traits you needed to be an entrepreneur. Being an inventor, being someone that can come up with a great patent doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. It’s a part of your brain that can create something very, very special, but the entrepreneurs are the ones that grind it out every day. People don’t like it when I say it’s necessary, but you are going to get kicked in the groin a lot of times on your way to success.
But if you stop after the first one, you’re probably not going to be successful. So, one thing I leave, Jordan leaves behind the resource guide. He is going to be updating the website, and what I will leave behind is if an entrepreneur wants to call me and have that person that Jordan just spoke about, calling someone and reaching out to them and they want to just bounce their idea off. You have no idea how many people call me in a month, in a year, and I am always glad to take that phone call.
And my advice is, if you want to take it, take it.
If you want to use it as a baseline, to not use it because you don’t think I am necessarily correct that’s just as valuable. So, my phone is open, my email is on open and if they need to reach out for someone to make that first phone call that Jordan was talking about, call me.
Rae Williams: How do we get in touch with you? How do we contact you?
Jordan Edwards: You can go to our website. It is jordanedwards.com. There is going to be a link to our book. There’s going to be links to my dad’s first book, which he wrote called Coming into Your Own,about the morals and mindsets of being a leader.
You can also find information on our companies, and it will be pretty easy to get in touch with us if you want to find out more about how to start a business.
Glenn Edwards: And then the greatest thing is that if you can’t find us that is very telling also. You got to have to go after someone sometimes you know? If you want to get to me, you will find me. If you don’t find me, that might be the first time.