Michelle Perry is the founder of Emerald Resource, an electrical low voltage contractor that designs, engineers and installs customized telecommunications networks including Telephone Systems, Audio Visual, VTC, CCTV, Access Control, and ISP/OSP Cabling and Fiber solutions to meet standard and enhanced telecommunication services. In layman terms, this veteran, woman-owned business is responsible for bringing power, light, and communications to buildings and communities across the state of TN and beyond. The amazing part is that Emerald Resource started out as a technology staffing firm! So, now you are wondering how do they go from a staffing firm to a major player in the electrical contracting space….they capitalized on the opportunities given. Michelle’s story is really one that shows no matter what you put your mind to, you can definitely achieve it. Check out her story below and how her Nashville Business Incubation Center membership is currently taking her business to the next level.
Tell us how you started Emerald Resource?
I was an IT recruiter for a fortune 500 company. The organization just went through the whole Y2k fiasco and began making internal changes along with purchasing companies from overseas. By 2003, I had enough and turned in my notice, however, they were determined not to let me go for 6 months so I worked so many hours during this period. After this time, I started getting back to me and what made me happy. Then, Thanksgiving rolls around and my Mom was like “what are you going to do” and I was like “Well, maybe I will just start my own company.” I received a check from my Grandmother that Christmas for $5,000, I also received calls from old clients during this time needing referrals for their business needs. I realized people needed to pay me for my advice and started my company at the beginning of 2004.
Your aha moment?
It started after receiving my first staffing opportunity with Beacon Technologies, a telecom business also at the Nashville Business Incubation Center. I meet with the owner when he needed a proposal written but he didn’t want to pay it for it. In exchange, he agreed to give me a percentage of the job if they won (and they did!). During the time working with Beacon Technologies, I got to learn what they did and gleaned basic knowledge. Having an undergraduate degree in Finance and my MBA I was able to see opportunity in spite of my lack of on-the-job electrical contracting experience. I knew I could build teams and provide the business acumen to make money. Fast track to 2008, when I landed my first federal contract on the implementation side and I have grown sustainably ever since.
So, what has your growth entailed from the type of clients to number of employees?
Well, in 2009 I moved to NBIC, and this was really the jump start I needed to begin meeting new contacts to help go after the right jobs. Our client list now includes: Department of the Army, Department of Energy, Department of the Air Force, Department of Forest Service, TN Army National Guard and the Air National Guard to name a few. We have also grown from a team of three to now 25 employees.
You mentioned that NBIC is playing a role in the growth of your company. For those entrepreneurs considering NBIC right now, what three things are you loving about your experience thus far?
- Brainstorming and Ideation: The ability to walk in and bounce ideas off other business owners and the NBIC team is great. I’m a little different, I have ideas that I know could make money and Angela Jones is like my sounding board. I can schedule time to meet with her and get out all the things I have in my head. It is great to get out your thoughts out so you can then re-focus. Many times, Angela will listen, talk through the idea with me and then help me to not forget my core goals and the best way to stay on track. For me it comes down to the guidance, refocusing me and given me the opportunity to voice my ideas. They may not always come to fruition, but at least I had a knowledgeable source there to listen.
- Comraderie: At NBIC, every company is different but we all face many of the same problems, from logistics, cash flow, etc. I can recall on several occasions, taking a coffee break outside and sharing almost identical stories with another electrical manufacturing company that is also in the program.
- Processes, Processes, Processes: So, I already had Quickbooks but I did not have the other operational processes in place. I didn’t have an employee handbook and standard operating procedures for example. To be honest, I didn’t think they were necessary at the time. I was trying to run the business and bring in sales. However, the day came where I needed these processes in place. It was more painful to stop then and get it handled.
In such a male-dominated industry, do you notice any resistance from clients or counterparts?
Yea, I have a lot less now, however I am not going to lie. I just always remember, I did this on my own and can continue to push through any obstacle.
I could imagine your schedule is very demanding, how do you manage your work/life balance?
That’s one area I don’t do so well in. I am a single Mom, and when I started in 2004, my daughter was 14. There was private school, extracurricular activities and it was difficult for the first the couple of years until she got a drivers license. However, with me having my own company, it has instilled in her a great work ethic as she was able to work on job sites during the summer.
I would say I still have to work on mastering the work-life balance but I love what I do, so it doesn’t feel like work.
Lastly, what’s next for Emerald Resource?
Stay fully staffed, fully busy and getting in more specialty projects, like our recent large excavation job. I will also be obtaining my general contractor license. I have always wanted to erect my own building and I am on my way to doing so.
Written by: Ashley Northington
Social media provides businesses with an opportunity to reach more people than ever before. Not only can businesses reach local audiences, social networking can also be used to reach a global market. Social media profiles with thoughtful, culturally appropriate content can help increase brand awareness among consumer groups in the country in which you wish to market.
However, global social media marketing goes beyond Facebook and Twitter. In fact some countries, like China, have restricted or banned residents from accessing Facebook and Twitter in favor in their own networks.
There are dozens of social media sites native to countries all over the world. To help you along, we’ve listed 12 social networking sites that may help you reach an international market.
Facebook is the world’s largest social network. It has nearly 2 billion users worldwide. This includes approximately 70 million users in Brazil, 60 million in Indonesia, 26.5 million in Japan, and 22 million in both France and Germany.
Xing is a social network for business professionals (think: LinkedIn). It is a platform where professionals from all kinds of different industries can meet up, find jobs, colleagues, new assignments, cooperation partners, experts, and generate business ideas. Based in Germany, Xing has nearly 11 million users in this market. It has approximately 200 million users worldwide.
Viadeo is a social network for business professionals (think: LinkedIn). It is a platform to help users boost their careers, find new contacts, and uncover new opportunities. Based in France, Viadeo has approximately 10 million users in this market. It has approximately 65 million users worldwide.
Twoo bills itself as the ‘fastest way to meet new people.’ It is a social networking site that focuses on chatting, sharing photos and meeting new people. Twoo, based in Belgium, is available in more than 200 countries and in 38 languages. It has approximately 180 million users worldwide.
Vkontakte, known as VK, is the largest European online social networking service. It is similar to Facebook. Based in St. Petersburg, Russia, it available in several languages, and is especially popular among Russian-speaking users
Weibo is a microblogging network. It is similar to Twitter. In fact, the name ‘weibo’ literally translates into microblog in Chinese. Weibo is used by more than 22 percent of the Chinese Internet population of almost 540 million people.
Renren is a Chinese social networking site. It is similar to Facebook and is popular among college-age students. Renren has an estimated 150 million registered users and 31 million active users per month.
Mixi is an online Japanese social networking service. Mixi users now exceed 27.1 million and has expanded into a communication platform that leverages voice, pictures, messaging, GPS, calendars and other functions to connect users.
Yonja is Turkey’s largest social networking site. It has more than 31 million users in 15 countries.
Tuenti was the most popular social network in Spain, from 2009 to 2012, with over 15 million registered users. At that time, it was referred to as the ‘Spanish Facebook.’ Today, Tuenti offers mobile telephone and messaging that are accessible on any device via cloud.
GoldenLine is Poland’s professional networking service. It is similar to LinkedIn. The network allows users to create business contacts, search for jobs, and find potential clients. It has more than 2 million users.
Your target country’s social media network could become one of your best marketing tools, provided you employ the right messaging and develop relevant content to distribute on that network.
The opportunity is huge.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS INTO A GLOBAL MARKETPLACE DURING NBIC’S GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK. REGISTER FOR TICKETS AT NBICONLINE.COM.
Ashley Northington is a marketing communication professional and entrepreneur. She is the founder and agency director at DENOR Brands & Public Relations. Learn more about Ashley at ashleynorthington.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook @ashnorthington. Learn more about her company at denorbrands.com and follow the company on Twitter and Facebook @DENORPR.