River City Six: Blake Martin
SCORE (www.omaha.score.org) has provided free, SBA-funded coaching and mentoring to America’s entrepreneurs since 1965. Blake Martin with FranNet of The Heartland is a volunteer with the Greater Omaha Chapter of SCORE.
How did you get involved with the organization?
As I was planning to start my own business, I walked in the door of the local office one day to learn more about SCORE. The SCORE chapter chair quickly learned that I had been coaching franchise business owners for 20 years, and in a sense I never walked back out that door.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Transitioning into owning my own business (FranNet of The Heartland) two years ago. It wasn’t just about the money we were investing, it was confirming that I had the confidence to make it work. In the end, I realized it was riskier to return to working in corporate America than it was to take control of my own future by owning my own business.
What has been your most important achievement professionally?
Getting my business to break-even, and thereby knowing that I never have to miss another one of my kids’ sporting events or submit another PTO form.
Tell us a little about your family.
My wife Shannon has deep roots in Nebraska. I’m pretty sure I’m related by marriage to 33% of the state’s population. She is the best thing that ever happened to me, partly because she’s helped me raise two incredible boys, Jordan (14) and Cayden (4). I’m a life-long Midwesterner, originally from Grand Rapids, MI where most of my family still lives. Grand Rapids feels a lot like Omaha or Lincoln, but surrounded by more trees and water.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
Accepting a job offer that brought me to Nebraska in 2004. As a result, I worked for some of the best business mentors I could have asked for, met my wife, was indoctrinated into Huskermania, found an incredible place to raise my kids, and eventually grew into a business owner and SCORE volunteer.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
Watch my boys play sports, with my wife by my side.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know?
I was the last person to board the last plane out of JFK airport in NYC on September 10, 2001. And I almost didn’t board because something just didn’t feel right that day.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said this first, but I heard it first from an elderly client when I was in my early twenties, and it has always stuck with me.
What is your greatest talent that you don’t utilize in your daily work life?
I’m a small business owner so I use them all, every day, before lunch. And then I use a handful more that I didn’t know I had, between lunch and midnight.
What local non-profit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why?
SCORE, of course, along with Veterans in Business Forum, Offutt’s Excel With a Mentor program, Omaha Career Networking, and Entrepreneurs’ Education Collaborative. I want others to experience the freedom and exhilaration of owning their own business.
What is your favorite local restaurant?
Ahmad’s in the Old Market.