The Gracenote Story

The Idea

The idea for Gracenote came from a personal journey into the entrepreneurial world that began over two decades ago.  It started when I was in my early twenties.  A friend who owned a small retail hardware store in the suburbs of Washington D.C. asked me if I would be interested in joining him to help save his business from certain closure.  He had some fundamental problems namely; customer service, cash management, and employee quality.  At that point I didn’t have a lot to offer him but hustle and determination.  I think he knew that.  But he had faith in me.  So I did something that would change the focus of my life.  I made the decision to try it.  I took an entrepreneurial risk.  Some might say the basic definition of someone who is an entrepreneur is the willingness to take a risk.  I wouldn’t disagree.  But what I learned from that experience was that no matter how much determination, grit, creativity, and perseverance I had, there were questions I couldn’t answer. 

The rest of the story…I took over the day to day operations of the store.  In 9 months we were making a profit.  In 16 months we were making more in monthly profit than my friend had made in annual profit during any of the previous years he had owned the store.  In 24 months we sold the store and I was rewarded with a very respectable payment for my effort.  I determined I was an entrepreneur for life after that. 

Since that time I have been a part of building five companies doing everything from software technology to vending machines. As you might expect, there have been great successes and some unfortunate failures.  The failures seemed to be the best learning experiences.  However, I don’t recommend them if you can avoid them.  That is the essence of why I founded The Gracenote Group.  The mission of Gracenote is to help as many entrepreneurs and small business owners avoid getting stuck in the information vacuum.  Simply put, I want to use my years of real world experience to help my clients navigate the unknown.

Unanswered Questions

As an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to get answers to questions.  I’m not talking about the kind of questions that are easy or familiar.  I am talking about questions that, if answered the wrong way, can spell trouble for your business. When faced with that issue, the real problem is not knowing who to ask.  Let me share just one example of what that looked like for me. 

One of my endeavors was a company that provided a service to help people preserve their lifetime memories.  The growth of the business was impressive.  However, the principals in the business could not agree on the growth strategy and focus.  The group of principals were seasoned business people. We each had our respective areas of expertise.  Still, we couldn’t come to an agreement.  If we had been able to reach out to someone with the wisdom and experience to understand the challenge and offer direction, I think it could have changed the growth trajectory of the company. The result of the indecision was marginal growth and limited opportunity.  This is just one example of hundreds that I could offer.  But the situation certainly isn’t unique to me or the companies I was a part of.

The Result

The result of years of experiences both good and bad, myriad moments of uncertainty, and questions that led me to wonder if I was really capable of being successful was The Gracenote Group.  My mission is to improve my clients’ condition by helping them see things they don’t currently see, consider alternatives they don’t know they have, and do things differently than they have in the past.  In other words, I want to return real value to my clients who invest their time, trust, and money in me and my company.  I firmly believe that small business owners need a resource that can partner with them to explore areas of their business that might not seem obvious.  As well, I believe that companies just need an alternative to learning the hard way.  At The Gracenote Group, we are dedicated to providing that alternative. 

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