In our Meet the Maker series, you hear from our Makers on their journeys as entrepreneurs and how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better. Today, we're catching up with Andrew Sanderson, the Maker behind Modern Fuel. Modern Fuel’s metal mechanical pencil was designed by Andrew to be your “pencil for life" and it's made right here in the USA.
What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?
Just pick one! I have a book full of ideas and I would add to it weekly and constantly start new projects. Organization was an issue and keeping focused was even harder. It wasn’t until I boxed everything up (to the delight of my wife) and picked one to commit all my time to that the magic started to happen.
How do you push through roadblocks in creativity or business?
Fresh air, I really find going for a walk or even just eating my lunch outside helps me make more progress. Business wise, I find talking with other designers and business owners is the best way to learn how to be more efficient, spend my time wisely and find new tools. I spend a lot of time reaching out to like minded makers in town.
What has surprised you most about starting a business?
That the possibilities are endless. No matter what you are making you have no idea of the scale and opportunities it will bring along until you are in the thick of it. If someone had told me I would start a successful growing business that is expanding into other products and gaining more and more attention from designing a mechanical pencil that I wanted I would have probably run off scared and not known where to start.
What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
1. Always thinking I can fix things, this comes from my mechanical mind.
2. Being able to take advice and feedback (and doing something with it).
3. Always being willing to share my knowledge–people have done it for me and I try to do it for others. It always come back in spades.
What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
We live in a world where starting a business has never been easier, you just have to start. Start small, keep your day job, get honest feedback, work hard, and keep trying. It will happen and when the day comes to leave your job because your business is growing and don’t have the time to do it any more is a beautiful day.
What Maker tool can you not live without?
Well that has to be the mechanical pencil! I really do use one every day and I could not function without writing down my thoughts and ideas. I do pair the pencil with a to-do list. I have the five days a week note pad/mouse mat and it helps me plan my weeks and not forget things.
What has been the most rewarding part of business for you?
The lifestyle working for yourself gives you. We just had our first child and although I work hard every day, I am home to spend time with my family and can eat lunch with them everyday.