From Penniless to the NYSE: Successful Entrepreneurship from President of the National Entrepreneur Center

Jerry Ross, president of the National Entrepreneur Center (NEC), is a serial entrepreneur who wants to help....everyone. Under his leadership, the Orlando, FL based organization has coordinated the efforts of 14 non-profits who support business, under one roof, to provide face-to-face coaching and training to over 15k entrepreneurs annually.

How does an organization with only one brick and mortar location become a resource nationally? ‚”We became national without building bricks and mortar through our social media outreach. We can move the needle places we don’t have to have a brick and mortar”, says Jerry.

Jerry hasn’t always been at the top. Like most entrepreneurs, he has had to overcome obstacles and dig deep to persevere. Coming from a large family that ‚”had to hustle to make ends meet,” Jerry is no stranger to the entrepreneurial spirit. After college, he worked in sales & marketing for a variety of companies, until 1989 when that spirit drove him to Orlando, Florida to help a friend with a business. By 1990 he was penniless. ”It was not what I had planned. I could not work any harder. Plan it. Imagine it. Work hard. Sometimes does not work.”

Not one to give up, Jerry continued to hustle, eventually landing a job for a company that was restructuring. A lighting division was not doing well, and the company was ready to shutter it. Jerry offered to fix it but instead ended up buying some of the equipment. By 1993 they had opened a location in Atlanta, Georgia. By 1995 they were supplying movie sets, concerts, and other significant events. Three short years later, an NYSE company bought them out.  Jerry says this is a testament never to give up, “I’m the same guy using the same things and one didn’t work, and one did.”

Jerry has had the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs at all levels. From start-up to seasoned with experience, the NEC has been able to offer a ton of resources to small businesses nationally. Based on his experience as an entrepreneur and now a resource to others Jerry shared with us three keys to success.

  1. You don’t have to do it alone. Get help, build a support network. - “I have never met an entrepreneur that wasn’t willing to help.”
  2. You must have an element of grit and perseverance. - “It takes twice as long as you think and it costs twice as much as you think.”
  3. You must be able to adjust and adapt. - ”It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Jerry Ross shared insight into today’s changing market and why an entrepreneurial mindset is a must for the students of today here in the full interview with Ramon Ray.


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