A: Actually, my first idea after leaving academics was to become a scientific consultant, but I later decided to offer business consulting services and sell knowledge.
Q: But your business consulting practice only lasted for a season, right?
A: Right. I believe that change is good, however, since I didn't have millions to start a business, as a consultant also I disciplined myself to listen. I wanted to understand what products and services were in high demand. I applied my logical, scientific thinking to discover what products were in high demand, and eventually began to offer manufacturing services.
Q: How did that work out?
A: Using an 800 toll-free directory, I was on the phone every day talking to sales managers, and asking which of their products had long lead times. One day in 1994, I was on a call with a sales manager in the Atlanta area who was selling PBX telephone systems. When I asked what item had the longest lead time, he told me NEON message waiting lights for hotel telephones.
Q: But you were a consultant. How were you able to better manufacture message waiting lights?
A: True, but when I reached out to my manufacturing network, I was able to offer the NEON message waiting lights with better quality and much shorter lead times at a price that was well below what the customer was paying. So, I simply added some margin, and began to secure orders. There is no secret to being successful in business. You just need to keep your costs as low as possible, offer the absolutely best quality and service that you can afford, and be fair.