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March 03, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Sam Weaver shared many useful insights that other entrepreneurs can use

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a six-part series about Knoxville entrepreneur Sam Weaver.)

Sam Weaver has been starting companies for most of his adult life, so we gained many insights from him during our three-hour interview. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Don’t always believe in personality tests. One that Weaver took during his early college years said he should not major in engineering. He’s spent a lifetime proving the advice was incorrect.
  • Friends made in college can be important in the future. In Weaver’s case, he has called on two of his fraternity brothers – Ron Brenner and Larry Bailes – to help at critical times in his career.
  • Maintain relationships built during your career. Dan Hensley, a 40-year business partner, is just one of those individuals.
  • Know when to trust your judgment, even if you have to overrule your team as he did at U. S. Nuclear.
  • Don’t be afraid to think big and to take risks. At the same time, know your strengths and avoid those areas that don’t draw on your strengths (e.g., Weaver’s failed effort in retail during the World’s Fair).
  • Don’t fear failure but “there are Black Swans in life . . . things you can’t predict.”
  • Always have a price in mind for your company in case you have an opportunity to exit or need to do so.
  • Honor your commitments, even if it is painful. Just one example is the payoff of a $750,000 loan when Weaver closed a company.
  • Be persistent. Weaver recalled the sign that his wife, Carol, had displayed in a limo she ordered when the deal with the Dyson Group was consummated.

NEXT: The many ways that Weaver has impacted the lives of area entrepreneurs.