Meet the Women in Print: Linda Fong
After opening a variety of businesses, Linda Fong found her home in digital print.
Accomplishments: Owner and partner of several businesses, including two Fastsigns franchises; served on the Fastsigns National Advertising Council; actively serving on the Franchise Advisory Committee; recipient of numerous Fastsigns awards; and has multiple licenses in graphic design and sales techniques
I’ve never seen someone do so much and be so successful at it. She thrives on staying busy and navigating between projects and businesses ... She does not stop, and the aftermath of her efforts are not only the quality services she provides but the great staffs she has developed.
–Howard James, Jr., Fastsigns DC
As an entrepreneur who’s opened and expanded multiple businesses, what lesson or advice would you pass on to other aspiring business launchers?
As a serial entrepreneur, the lesson learned is that each business has its own set of challenges that you cannot predict, no matter how thorough your business plan is. There are challenges when there’s not enough business, as well as when there’s too much – thinking and moving quickly with Plans A, B, C, and sometimes the dreaded throw-in-the-towel plan. I had several businesses that just never gained traction, no matter how much marketing, streamlining, and effort were put into them.
Most businesses take more time and more capital than anticipated. The key is ensuring there is enough capital to get you through the startup phase, which can take two to five years. That means also having enough to put a roof over your head and food on the table. Sound decisions are made when not stressed by the thought of the possibility of running out of money before the business gains traction.
My husband, Kenny, and I have been entrepreneurs since our 20s (that’s a long time ago), so a steady paycheck was not a part of our world. Because of that, I have always budgeted to be able to live on one person’s income, and that has allowed us to explore various business ventures, including video and retail stores and fitness studios. Which all brought me back to Fastsigns as we rebalanced our business portfolio.
The other key factor is having a great support system. For me, that was my family and friends; cheering me on when I was feeling down and cheering me on for each and every accomplishment. They were there helping with my kids when they were young, as well as moving furniture and equipment and doing every little and big thing requested of them. They were my life savers many times over!
Tell us about a project that presented some challenges but turned out great in the end.
A project that was a challenge and turned out great was a very large replacement of signs on top of a building. Short of getting a crane, our installers used a rope and hoist system to get each of the seven panels to the top of the building. The client was moving into their new facilities, and not only did we fabricate and install their exterior site signage, we were able to remove an old sign from their former location, refinish it, and install it at their new location. This led to also helping them with their interior warehouse/logistics facilities.