Business owner talks about the burdens of overregulation.
Name: Brandon Davis
Business: Swan Energy
Location: Greenwood Village, Colorado
Twelve years ago, Brandon Davis was unemployed. While job hunting, he stumbled across an ad for a sales position at an oil company. Davis applied and landed the position, but it proved to be more than just a job—it was a stepping-stone for his entrepreneurial spirit. In 2008, he started Swan Energy Inc., an independent oil and gas producer. Here, Davis talks about the problems with Colorado and where his company is headed.
What advice would you give small business owners new to the game?
Have one business and one focus, or your business will never succeed. Over the years, I have tried to start other businesses on a large scale and small scale, and it’s failed because I wasn’t there day-to-day. I couldn’t be, in my case, three places at once.
[Second,] find something that you enjoy, that you love, that you’re passionate about, so that you’re excited to go to work every day for something besides money, because money will only take you so far.
Lastly, once you’ve started your business, and it starts working, never stop what makes it work. A lot of people start having success and think they need to change because they have more money, more people. They change the dynamic of the company in an attempt to be what they think they should be instead of just being them, which was what made the company start in the first place.
What are your thoughts on the way Colorado treats its small businesses?
I don’t think Colorado appreciates its small businesses. I think it did 20 years ago. I think in the transformation of this state, it’s a lot less appreciative of what it was and caters to large corporations.
There are a lot of little regulations that are expensive. You can’t have a business these days without either a human resources department or a human resources company that you work with because if you fire someone or someone quits, a) you are susceptible to being sued because of the regulations and b) you have hours and hours of paperwork to fill out for unemployment to justify why that person quit.
How has your affiliation with NFIB helped you deal with the issues small businesses continue to face?
It’s a huge help, and it’s comforting to know that someone’s out there fighting for small businesses in the trenches of the state and federal levels.
What are some challenges you’ve faced as a business owner, and how have you handled them?
The biggest challenge we’ve faced in our industry is regulation. There’s the federal regulation from an oil and gas standpoint, and all of the negative press out there. We combat it with facts.
Another issue is the state [regulations]. The state isn’t on the same page as to the forum in which we raise our money. On a federal level, it’s very clear, and what we do is we raise joint-venture funds. Some states like to change that, and that’s something we’ve fought lawsuit and after lawsuit—and we’ve never lost one. We’ve won every one of them.
The way we’ve combated that to this point is with legal teams and money. We’re starting to work more on the lobbying side.
Where do you see your company headed in the near future?
It’s really hard to see what the next step is. We’re not a small business. We’re not a big company, on the stock trade or worth billions of dollars. We’re kind of in the middle right now.
We’re either going down to a small company, which I don’t want, or, more than likely, we’re going to continue to strategize and continue to focus on success and growth and transform ourselves into a company that is in the billion-dollar range as far as value.