Darius A. Stanton, 43, chief executive of the Stanton Group.
I had it in my mind at a young age that I wanted a job where I could go to lunch when I wanted to, have a secretary and leave when I wanted. In essence, I knew I wanted to work for myself.
I was around people who had the entrepreneurship spirit. My grandmother owned her own beauty salon, which was in the basement of our home in Annapolis. My grandmother got up every day, ate breakfast, went to the basement, conducted her business until evening and came back upstairs and was home. She was well off.
I got a chance to see that firsthand every day. I learned customer service. I’d walk her customers to their cabs. I’d go to the store for them. ‘Here, baby, take a dollar,’ the customers would say. I learned the value of customer service.
My grandfather used to clean offices as a part-time job. He passed the business on to my uncle. When I was 12, my uncle would take me to work with him. I had to put that hot vacuum on my back and clean floors. I remember days like today, a hot sunny day, I would leave the house and go to the basketball court. And here my uncle would come around the corner and I would have to go to work. That taught me work ethic.
When I was 17 years old, my uncle turned all the offices over to me. For the next eight years, I had a part-time job doing janitorial service. My next job was working as a dishwasher at a wine-and-cheese in Annapolis. I always worked more than one job. I always had a check coming in. At an early age I learned the value of work and, as a result, I was able to sustain myself.
In 2001, my wife and I formed our own company, the Stanton Group, which provides management consultation. The pro of working for yourself is a sense of accomplishment and the ability to be creative and innovative. The cons to being an entrepreneur are the risks, but the risks are not greater than working for someone else. When you work for someone else, they can tell you, ‘Tomorrow, you don’t have a job.’ The pros of being an entrepreneur far outweigh the cons.