One Decade Down
Last week, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Diamond Nexus with a grand party and celebration. Among our many corporate skill-sets and core competencies, having amazing parties has proven to be one of the most durable.
Entrepreneurs are often giving the message that "40% of all businesses fail in the first five years." This is scary enough, but the second, less known, and even more daunting statistic is that, of the 40% that remain after the first five years, another 60% will go out of business in the next five years!
So, the likelihood of a business surviving for 10 years is roughly 16%.
That's the story the statistics tell. But statistics are usually bullshit.
The fact is, I've never seen a business that had a good business model, good accounting and financial processes, a reasonable marketing and sales plan, a commitment to delivering service and value to the customer and creating a place where employees could be happy and thrive, that ever failed.
Wouldn't it be great if our government, instead of erecting barriers and creating problems for businesses, would actually have a service that taught young entrepreneurs and new business people the basic building blocks of success? Think of the difference in the lives of the employees, investors and owners of all of these failed businesses.
The reality is that many entrepreneurs learn much of what they need to know about business by failing the first time around. I know I sure did. What a waste!
So 10 years are in the books. Ten years is both a long time and a short time in business. For me, it has absolutely flown by. It's been amazing.
We've served many hundreds of thousands of customers. When I think of the almost uncountable number of marriage proposals, anniversary celebrations and moments of joy that we’ve been a part of, it makes my heart swell.
One of my favorite numbers is 1.5 billion. We have saved our customers more than $1.5 billion dollars from what they would have spent on mined diamonds. That’s $1.5 billion out of the coffers of the diamond industry, which is a good thing for the world and its people.
We've had hundreds and hundreds of employees come through our doors. Most have stayed and grown with us for years, some have moved on, but I’m happy to say that we’ve stayed in touch and are friends with almost all of them.
As well as I can remember, we've had 22 babies born to Diamond Nexus employees, most of whom I've had the pleasure of getting to meet and hold and bounce in my arms for a few minutes. We've had many, many weddings that I've attended, a couple of them between two employees. We've seen many of our people lose loved ones, but I thank God that we've never had an employee pass away.
For 10 years our company has been like a village or a tribe. And that's something that I love and something that I have focused on creating. I hope we can continue that tight-knit feeling for another 10 years. It gets harder as you get bigger.
We’ve done a lot that I’m proud of. One of the best of these was that we were the first major engagement ring producer to publicly support the right of all people to marry, and we helped fund the fight to overturn the ban on gay marriage in our state and around the country. We created one of the first lines of same-sex wedding rings. We got hammered with thousands of pieces of hate mail and our customer list shrank, but it was the right thing to do, and now everyone has hopped on that train.
The last 18 months have been so pivotal for us. We have launched new brands and brought them all together under the Forever Companies umbrella. The explosion in popularity and awareness about grown diamonds and our ability to create and source them in ever larger sizes and greater quantities is going to define our direction and what happens to us in the next 10 years.
I don't know what the future holds, but I know that our ideals of believing in the quality and goodness of American manufacturing, of making our products ourselves with our own hands, of putting everyone who is in the chain of creating products – making them, selling them and delivering them to customers – under one roof where we can all talk to each other, these are all good and powerful things that will help us thrive. Most of all, believing it's not size and scale that matters; it's customer satisfaction and employee happiness, that will keep our tribe growing and successful for the next 10 years.