Terri S. Alpert is an experienced entrepreneur who believes that consistency is one of the keys to success in business.
The North Branford, Conn. resident graduated from Brown University with a B.S. in Physics — and she was the only physics major in the classes of 1984-1986. After she graduated, she “went to Wall Street and designed financial computer systems for Morgan Stanley” from 1985 to 1992. Responsible for all software design, development and support for worldwide currency trading department and interest rate and currency swaps, she “managed teams of programmers in NY and London.”
In 1993, Terri “started my first business in 1993 which exists to this day — Professional Cutlery Direct,” which has appeared three times on the INC 500 list of fastest growing private companies in the U.S.
Terri says she has spent her entire life “observing and figuring out who was in charge,” starting from when she was five years old. As a child, she referred to those in charge as a “runner,” and told her parents that “I was going to have to be a runner. It was who I was.”
During her years at Morgan Stanley, “I was saving every penny I could because I knew corporate life wasn’t for me in the long term and I had to see what I was capable of creating from “nothing.” I needed to know what I could do without money — so I would know it was about me and my efforts and not about privileges and connections,” Terri recalls.
Her advice to other would-be entrepreneurs. “I believe business plans are essential if you are looking to
build a company with other people’s money. Don’t think, however, for one minute that I didn’t have a plan, just because I didn’t write it down. I had one and it was well thought out, but it was also flexible, and
constantly adapting as I learned more and got more data.”
The company has grown exponentially. “In 199, 4 we did about $225,000 in revenues. Today we do about $14,000,000. That said, this is a business model with VERY SMALL net profits. It is a very tough business model.”
Terri’s goals for the future include her recognition that “I’m a better entrepreneur than a manager. I’d like to be creating new businesses and helping others create businesses. I’m doing some of this now while still running my own companies. I’m a significant investor and board member of a fabulous startup (all men, but I’m used to that) and I’m an active member of Connecticut’s only organized angel investor group – the Angel Investor Forum.”
Her advice to other women who want to start their own business?
“1) Be really sure it is what you want.
2) Make sure the type of business you are creating reflects your
strengths and can overcome your weakness.
3) It won’t work unless your family is supportive and understands that this is something you have to do because it is who you are.”
And remember, says Terri, “There’s nothing like saying, “Here’s what I’m going to do for you” and
then delivering CONSISTENTLY to gain someone’s respect.”