Wayne Branch | Owner Large and Small Graphics (LSG), Inc.
Small business entrepreneurship is growing
By Kimberly V. Knox
“Don’t sell yourself short” is the advice Fayetteville State University alum, Wayne Branch offers to aspiring entrepreneurs. After taking several career paths before landing in the print industry, Wayne admits that owning a business never crossed his mind, not until the former owners of the business posed the idea to him. Their encouragement and confidence along with support from others inspired him to take a leap of faith in 2001 to start Large and Small Graphics (LSG) Incorporated based in Raleigh, NC. Growing from 1 employee to 22 employees, LSG Inc. has achieved a level of success that few minority printers in the state have reached.
Wayne sat down with EmergeNC Online to share his journey as a business owner, how he’s facing the ups and downs of the current economy and his advice to those pursuing their entrepreneurship dream.
What services does LSG Inc., provide? LSG is a full service digital, print on demand business. Our printing services include scanning, copying, accompanied with vehicle wrapping, way finding signage, and large color display printing just to name a few levels of service. We’re currently based in Raleigh and have locations Durham and Greensboro with plans for expansion starting 2013.
There aren’t many minority printers in our area. Tell us about your experience? First, we add value! Secondly, be open to working with other minority business owners. I’ve found good mentors in the digital documentation industry. They have been a good sounding boards and offer good advice. We promote and assist one another on jobs. It’s challenging for us because we have to work twice as hard to achieve half of what our counterparts achieve.
What’s your opinion of the minority small business community in Raleigh-Durham? There are many types of minorities in business seeking valuable and loyal business relationships. We simply need a chance to grow our respective businesses. It’s important to remain grateful and enjoy your achievements and opportunities that come. You must be well prepared and knowledgeable of your trade. Don’t take short cuts. There are no guarantees, so be adaptable.
What resources do you believe an aspiring small business owner should obtain first? Have a solid plan with a thorough understanding for desired business. Secure adequate start-up capital to allow you to maintain operations. You should also have enough capital reserved to sustain yourself while growing the business. Ultimately, go into business to make a positive impact. Strive to be the best by doing and not just talking, which means you must see it through.
A lot of small businesses are expected to not last longer than 3 years, do you have advice for those just starting out? Expect to last…Dream the big dream! Don’t dream a small dream because it is possible that it may come true. Don’t sell yourself short. Do what you’re good at and surround yourself with good people with positive attitudes and consistently push to be the best. You’ll face challenges so be prepared to work hard and to endure.
What has proven to be the best practices for sustainability and growth? Making adjustments to endure the challenges that arise is the key to sustaining a business. I’ve stayed the course and remained true to my team and myself. Consistency is essential to success.
We know you volunteer and give back to the community. How do you see your role in the community as a business owner? My role is to assist others in believing in themselves, especially young people. I encourage them to be their best at whatever they do. The message I give young people is to not make excuses for the things they can control. Success is a state of mind so I tell them that failure is not an option… you must believe in yourself and that experience will help you to succeed.
You seem to be navigating the economic downturn better than most, what has been the most challenging about these times for you as an owner? I’ve had to educate myself about things I never thought I would be impacted by. You really have to know the decisions that are our government officials are making in order to prepare and adjust accordingly. Working hard every day to keep my team motivated so they will do their best even when it may seem as if your best may not be enough. Small businesses are close-knit, so you to need to learn how to be firm without forgetting that the members of your team are human. For me, the toughest thing about the economic downturn was the first time I had to make layoffs. My business side was conflicted by my human side. I knew that regardless of what or how I did it, that person being laid off has a family and responsibilities and they didn’t want to hear the news I was delivering.
What has been your greatest Inspiration? I’ve been inspired by the belief others have in me. It’s amazing to hear the things they see in me…things that I didn’t see. I’m a person that needs structure and the certainty that comes with it, so prior to this, the idea to start my own business never occurred to me. This gave me the courage to step out on faith to become a business owner and to succeed at it.
Do you have any final words of advice for the young entrepreneurs? Ultimately, belief in yourself and experience will help you succeed. Get out of your comfort zone. Stay true to yourself and to your team. Establish and maintain a good work ethic and a reputation that reflects it. You must put forward your best effort to be successful; the experience will be the reward that will be yours forever.