Entrepreneurs Corner: From delivery boy to owner
Buening made the climb up the ladder by the time he was 19 years old
Craig Beuning is something of the quintessential entrepreneur: someone who started in business when he was very young, found success, and then traveled down many other roads through the years.
Having grown up in Minnesota, Beuning and a friend decided to head for warmer climes following their high school graduation, and traveled to Texas. When the necessity of earning a living made itself known, Beuning happened to be walking down a street and noticed a Help Wanted sign in the window of Domino’s Pizza. First he talked himself into the job, then into a promotion as assistant manager, then manager and finally into being a franchise owner for Domino’s. All of this by the time he was 19. In fact, he was the youngest franchisee in the history of Domino’s. How was he able to accomplish this?
“Timing is everything,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to hook up with a partner and investor who was willing to put up a lot of the necessary capital, and we took it from one to three stores in a short time.”
For some years, Beuning and his partner operated the businesses successfully, and all was right with the world. However, a quality that many entrepreneurs seem to share in common is a desire for new experiences, new challenges and new opportunities. That was the case with Beuning.
“I sold my interest in the stores and went to California to get involved with a restaurant chain there,” Beuning explained. “That didn’t work out in the long run, so I went from California to Philadelphia and got involved in trying to build a new pizza franchise business. That didn’t work out, either.”
Beuning is frank about his failures.
“Investors lose heart in a hurry if they don’t see an immediate return,” he said.
After the pizza venture fell by the way, he next tried his hand with a karate and fitness center.
“I didn’t do enough homework on that one,” Buening admitted. “Success demands that you know your business, and that means you do the homework before you take the test.”
That’s a lot of experience for someone who had not yet turned 30. So, what did Beuning do next?
“I decided to go to college,” he said, and did just that. Not only did he secure his undergraduate degree, he also went to law school and ultimately became a lawyer. During his college years, he did a “little bit of everything,” and contacts he made ultimately led him to the title business.
“Once again, timing is everything,” he said. “I got in for the refi boom and soon we were involved in 50 or 60 closings a day. Business was great.”
Of course, it’s often true that “all good things must come to an end.”
“We rode the refi wave until we could see the end of the boom in sight,” he said. “From that, I opened a small real estate and insurance agency, and did well in that for a time.”
Of course, the real estate boom ultimately led to the bursting of the housing bubble. Never one to say die, Beuning found an opportunity to come to Mississippi prior to Katrina and become involved in an alternative building business that was tailored to the “green” trend in housing and construction. He’s been involved in that business, and also has expanded into being a counselor and consultant to other entrepreneurs. In that capacity, he works with people who are looking to start or expand businesses, and helps them to secure financing. It’s clear that with his experience through the years, he has seen a lot of both right — and wrong — practices.
He’s the first to admit that true entrepreneurs are a “driven breed.”
“It’s like being a runner….you can’t win if you don’t enter the race,” he said. “And before you do, you had better make certain you have the full understanding and support of your family and friends…otherwise, you’re headed for a fall.”
He’s worked with people from all walks.
“Some of them don’t really have the desire or commitment, when it comes right down to it,” he said. “For them, it’s best to find that out before they get wrapped up in something that will ultimately make them unhappy.”
“The only road to success,” he said, “is to do your homework, know your business and then give it everything you’ve got. You really must learn to network effectively, find people who can mentor you and then realize that you’ll need help along the way. You just can’t succeed totally on your own.”
Still a relatively young man (he’s under 50), Beuning expects he’ll probably be involved in more ventures down the road. After all, as many entrepreneurs would agree, the opportunities are endless.
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