Small business perseverance takes flight!

Plane Profiles CorsairWho doesn’t love a good success story? The kind where some part of human spirit, energy, persistence, and skill all gel to make a happy ending; or more aptly, a happy situation – because the experience is never ending.

Our small and thinly populated state of Vermont is laced with such success stories; some of which evolved into  with some pretty famous brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Phish, Burton Snowboards, VBT (VT Bicycle Tours), Magic Hat, Bag Balm, and Chris Bohjalian, to name a few. In the wings are dozens of other lesser-known brands who are no less creative, innovative, or relevant, just not on the big stage… yet.

One such success story has been unfolding for the past 3 months or so, but in reality, has been building for years. Out of Stowe, Vermont is rising star and local artist whose passions, pursuit, persistence, and skills are now on the runway and cleared for take-off. Tod Gunter and his sole-proprietor Plane Profiles Company is landing his first order of technically detailed and historically accurate prints of select U.S. warplanes at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. These aeronautic enthusiast prints will be for sale in the museum’s gift store and also at Washington’s Dulles International Airport. My own company, Paw Print & Mail, is proud and pleased to be the company printing of these magnificent pieces of technical art. You can read more about Tod’s story in an article and interview with him at Seven Days.

As a fellow entrepreneur myself, these stories serve to both inspire and remind me about the purity of patience, persistence, and the truism that slow and steady wins the race. It’s about becoming really good at something and then honing it further to a place of value for others to enjoy and benefit from. Stories like this abound of course, but they have even more meaning when one is witness to or part of the experience. In an age when more and more of everything is available at our fingertips from our computers, phones, and tablets, we’ve gotten used to having and achieving most everything “now”.

But the reality is that anyone who’s good at something got that way through many hours, months, and years of doing the small things over and over again while working through the trial and errors that build upon themselves to take form into something that works. Malcom Gladwell, in his book Outliers, says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. The Beatles did it, Bill Gates did it, Tiger Woods did it, and now Tod Gunter has done it. Great work is great work no matter what the level of fame.

Now the real work begins. Creators generally love what they do so the many hours devoted to develop their craft, skill, or talent is often not work at all, but a process of discovery and practice. For many, the more challenging work is getting found and defining a relative value in a crowded marketplace. Slow and steady wins this race too. The older I get, the wiser I’ve become if for no other reason than to appreciate the patience, persistence, and evolution that goes into success.

Way to go Tod!

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