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Have you ever thought about starting your own business? How many of you have done it?

Several times I have heard someone say they thought their boss (or employer) was stupid and that they thought they could run a company better, so they started their own business. Even if they were successful they very quickly developed a lot more respect for their former employer, because they soon became him.

About 20 years ago I started my first real business in an industry I knew very well, manufacturing menu boards. Starting that company was easy because I had a lot of support. When everything was organized and set up, I found myself sitting in an office on a Monday morning with a partner, several key experienced employees, a shiny new plant with offices and all the equipment I needed to design and build menu boards.

I had everything I needed except sales. You can imagine the pressure I felt that first day to bring in sales. I made some big commitments to my investors and it was time to deliver. I had to find meaningful work for the few employees we had and to start paying the bills. I'm not sure how we did it, but we very quickly started bringing in sales. In the beginning it seemed like we were doing everything but menu boards. But, within five years we had about 40 percent of the menu board market and there were many existing menu board companies in the business.

That was the second time in my career I had ownership in a business but had a minor share and not a lot of say about our direction. I was eventually unhappy with the direction of the company because I wanted to get into the digital menu board business and they did not want to make any changes. So, I decided to leave and start my own digital menu board business.

This time it was very different. I had full ownership but I was all alone. If you have ever started a business by yourself you quickly realize you have to do everything, even the smallest mundane tasks. It's like being a knight going off to battle on your large white stallion and battle gear. When you meet a large enemy force you turn and suddenly realize you're all alone. You have to very quickly change your battle strategy or die.

Since I have survived it's obvious I developed a strategy that works. I soon found some good, dedicated people to assist me with the things where I was short on skill. Again it seems like I sold everything except digital menu boards to get started, but that part of the business is now looking good also. I have to admit this time it's been much more difficult but a lot more fun. If any of you entrepreneurs out there want to share experiences, give me a call. Maybe I can help.

User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Victoria Preston
    Gerard, if you look under the White Papers section, there is a white paper sponsored by Nanonation entitled Software for Digital Signage that may be helpful to you. Another good white paper sponsored by LG Electronics USA, Inc. is called Digital Display Technology: Learning the Basics of Digital Signage. These should at least be a good starting point and provide some education on the subject. This site is full of the latest and greatest information in the industry! Good luck to you and much success on starting your own company...I hope to be reading about you and your company on this site soon!
  • Scott Sharon
    Hi Gerard,

    I'm sorry it took me so long to answer your comment. I forgot to check for comments. I would be happy to help you any way I can. Please give me a call at 239-465-4833.
  • Derek Stearns
    Hey Gerard,
    We are by no means seasoned in many of the ways you seem to be. But we do have sales and and a network that is far from perfect. We would love to get some open honest opinions from you! Please email me at
  • Ronnie Willis
    hi , my name is ronald willis. I'm starting my own digital signage business but don't understand once i have my locations set up how do i find advertisers?
  • arnetta murray
    Great article just trying to understand the digital signage industry....
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Scott Sharon
Vertigo Group USA president Scott Sharon has decades of experience in the sign and menu board industry, and nearly another decade in digital signage. He’s a longtime proponent of, and innovator in, expanding the deployment of digital menu boards in QSRs.
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