Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
KNOCKPATRICK, Manchester:IT IS said that entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't. These are the sentiments shared and embraced by the young, resilient businessman Orlando Knight.
The owner of Tie Hard, the go-to guys for ties, wholesalers and retailers of neckties, bowties, cravats, clothing, and accessories for men; Fhresh Hair Company Limited, wholesalers of clip-in human hair extensions; and most recently, director of Stiforp Multilevel Marketing International, a subsidiary of Stiforp Profits, an online network marketing company, though always entrepreneurially minded, is continuing to exceed the expectations of his success.
"Almost as far back as I can remember, I have been selling something. My first business was selling game time at school. I got a hand-held gaming console from my grandmother, Mrs Phyllizeta Anderson, when I was in grade one. I immediately thought about making some money from it. One could play the game until it said 'game over'. It became a hit. Of course, it was illegal to bring games to school, so I had to hide," Knight said.
From as early as age six, there was the yen for success, no matter the odds.
"I used some of the money from the game to participate in the class 'partner' that my teacher introduced us to. I used the money saved in the partner plan to buy another gaming console at a local Chinese haberdashery in St Ann's Bay for $105 and continued the small business," said Knight.
As time progressed, Knight continued his efforts to make money. In high school, he tried numerous saving approaches that failed miserably. He subsequently realised that cash flow was key.
"I went to university two months after becoming 16 years old. While I was there, I went prime time with one of the biggest projects I have undertaken in my life thus far. At age 20, two friends, Carlos Grant and Rajiv Irving, and I, decided to create a multimedia firm, D'Ink Multimedia Firm. We made TV commercials, fixed computers, and did high-end graphics. We had an office and everything. Being college kids, we were slightly misguided and closed the business. Now, I'm a solo act," Knight told Rural Xpress.
Knight, who is from a family line of great achievers, with his mother currently a doctoral candidate, father a pastor and recipient of a doctor of ministry degree, and sister being the youngest epidemiologist in Jamaica with a master's degree in public health, formerly felt unaccomplished.
The holder of an associates degree in geography, he found himself caught between the conflicting ideologies of academia and entrepreneurship, but pursuing his passion ruled all others out.
"I used to be a geography teacher at a high school. I did this for two years. I started Tie Hard in my second year, and I have never regretted it. However, I became more appreciative of my efforts to diversify my investment portfolio when I was hit with a spontaneous phone call from the school principal saying she would not be renewing my contract to return to work, even though the school year had started, technically. If I hadn't started Tie Hard, I wouldn't have had much to fall back on," said an introspective Knight
With a broad clientele base extending to the reaches of several states in the United States and countries in the Caribbean, Knight, with the support of family and others, refuses to allow the high taxation and freight costs of shipping and handling to deter him from this worthy venture.
"For all my businesses, I hope and aspire to have them grow by a minimum of 75 per cent each over the next five years. For Tie Hard and Fhresh Hair, I must have a physical, tangible store, where persons can walk in and view our products and ultimately become household names locally and internationally. Stiforp Profits will increase my network by 500 per cent and my net worth by a minimum of 800," Knight told Rural Xpress.
Knight, whose inspiration comes from the Bible, holds firm to the notion that "there is nothing called job security". He has appealed to all, especially university graduates, to find ways of making money.