Back in 1995, a 27-year-old decided that he would embark on one of the greatest adventures of his life. He would start his own business. It was going to be great. All he could think about was the independence and freedom it would bring and most of all, the monetary reward. This 27 year old had it all figured out…until reality set in. This dream of owning a business was nightmarish at times. The long hours and the ups and downs, more downs than ups, had him wondering if he made the right decision. His dream at times had ensnared him and he felt that he didn’t have time to do much of anything else, but thankfully, he didn’t give up.
Fast forward 23 years. That 27-year-old is now 50 and, hopefully, a little wiser. The person I speak of is me, David Fountain. Today, my business partner, Susan Lee, and I own four The UPS Store franchises in Florence (2), Sumter and Conway.
After all I had learned over the past 23 years, one thing still was a struggle, for some reason, it was very hard for me to break out of the walls of my business. It was very difficult for me to make time to network outside of my circle. I feel that I am an introvert, I tell people that and they don’t believe me. The thing is, I’m an introvert until I get to know you and then you can’t shut me up.
Most of us made some type of resolution at the beginning of 2018, mine was that I would venture out from the comfort of my four walls and to begin to get more involved with the business community here in Florence. The two groups that I joined were the Pee Dee Chapter of Business Network International and the Florence Chamber of Commerce. Not only did I join the Chamber, but I also became an Ambassador for the Chamber where I participate in events as well as go to ribbon cuttings of new businesses in our community. Part of my resolution was not just to write a check and join the Chamber, but to become a part of an organization where I could serve and give back to my hometown. The relationships that have been forged in such a short time have been invaluable. One of the great things about the Chamber is that you get to work alongside people that want to make Florence an even better place to live. I think that is spelled out in our new Florence slogan, “Full Life, Full Forward.” This is a great time for our city. The Florence Chamber is a great opportunity for our business community to come and work together. I am reminded of a quote I heard some time ago which said, “Never let them say we had potential.” With the help of the Florence Chamber and its members, The City of Florence will reach its full potential.
I say all of this for one reason, don’t allow the busyness of your world keep you from being a part of the Florence Chamber. It is an invaluable resource for your business or company. The Chamber gives you a front row seat to see and hear about our great city. Maybe you’re already a member, but just haven’t found the time to get plugged in. I encourage you to take the time and see what the Chamber has to offer. I think you will find yourself asking the same question as I did, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Having lived here almost all my life, I don’t think there has ever been such an exciting time. Back in the day, Florence’s slogan was “It’s all here”. I would ask myself, “Where is it?” Sometimes, you can’t see what’s right in front of you. I’m glad that I didn’t give up on my hometown. The Florence Chamber of Commerce has given me an opportunity to give back a little to this city. A city that has given me a great quality of life. A city that created a path for me to get a great education from Florence School District One and a college degree from Francis Marion University. A city that has supported me in living out my dream of being a business owner.