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The Entrepreneurist: Jett McCandless

David Mielach, BusinessNewsDaily Staff Writer

CarrierDirect was started by Jett McCandless in 2011. The company provides consulting services to top third-party logistics companies and carriers.

When Jett McCandless launched CarrierDirect in 2011, it was the culmination of more than a decade of experience in the transportation industry. That experience served McCandless well, especially considering that two years after opening, the company was able to bring in $40 million in revenue and $3.5 million in net profit. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with McCandless about his journey, how he overcame obstacles and what other businesses can learn from his story.

BusinessNewsDaily: What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Jett McCandless: I wanted to be a fireman like many other young boys, but I noticed a difference in lifestyles between my parents and my friends' parents who owned businesses. There was great contrast in day-to-day living. I didn't understand the details of either but had a burning desire to figure it out.

BND: What did your parents do for a living?

JM: My dad was a printer at print shop, and my mom worked basic entry-level jobs.

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BND: Can you talk a little about your businesses and how you got your start?

JM: We grew up poor. I wanted Michael Jordan sneakers like the rich kids in fifth grade, but there was no way my parents had $120 to spend on shoes in the late 1980s. I tried applying for jobs but was too young, so I started a lawn mowing company. From then, I was in and out of corporate America and owned various businesses. Unfortunately, for most of my life I thought making a mistake meant I was a failure, so I was hesitant to become a full-time entrepreneur.  Now, I have owned or been a principal at a real estate company, marketing companies and various types of businesses in the freight industry.

BND: What's the best part of owning your own business?

JM: The best part of owning my own business is having the opportunity to innovate and make bets on ideas you believe in. That flexibility does come with great responsibility, as others rely on you and those bets paying off to support their families.

BND: What's the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

JM: I've made thousands of big and small mistakes, which have helped me to become the person I am today. I see mistakes as opportunities to learn for future situations rather than thinking of them as individual failures. However, the single biggest mistake I've made was doing business with people who didn't share the same morals and values as me, but even those experiences were beneficial in the long run. There were definitely a few bumpy years along the way to reaching success, but those ultimately led me to my current understanding of how crucial morals and values function as a strong foundation for business.  

BND: What was your main motivation in starting this business?

JM: My goal was to help carriers under $500 million in revenue to compete in an increasingly complex marketplace. They generally don't have the exposure to develop a strategy to allow them to tap into the most powerful sales force in transportation: the fairly new model of the third-party logistics company. 

BND: What was the biggest challenge you encountered, and how did you overcome it?

JM: When CarrierDirect was first starting out, our model followed an entirely new format and way of thinking, with no other companies in the market to use as a prototype to say, "We are like ABC company but different because ..." It took some time and results for us to overcome this obstacle, but after we acquired a handful of successful case studies, the market embraced us.

BND: What is the best bit of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?

JM: Write your business plan in pencil and have a big eraser. Find someone that complements your weaknesses and bring them on board. Build relationships with mentors.

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Image Credit: Jett McCandless / Credit: CarrierDirect