“The Second Decision: the QUALIFIED Entrepreneur, hits the nail on the head!”

What Are People Saying About The Second Decision and Randy Nelson?

As an entrepreneur, Randy Nelson has started businesses from scratch, grown them, and sold them. He has experienced the severe ups and downs of business from rapid growth to significant slowdowns and everything in between. Randy’s victories and challenges in business, combined with his leadership training as a Navy officer, give him a wealth of knowledge and experience. Along his journey, Randy has willingly shared his experiences with other business owners in one on one and small group settings as a student, peer, and coach. In this environment, he has developed the talent of asking tough questions of himself and others. In this next phase of his career, he has dedicated his efforts to helping even more entrepreneurs on their journeys. This book distills Randy’s knowledge in a straightforward, no-nonsense approach that will help any entrepreneurial leader.


Greg Ferguson
Owner, Victory Contracting

I encourage you to use Randy’s Entrepreneur Qual Card very objectively, which may mean letting others help you assess the answers. Far too often I observe that for many entrepreneurial leaders, commitment means ‘I know I should’ or ‘I really want to’ or ‘I’m going to really try.’ That’s not what will get the job done to become a Qualified Entrepreneur.”


Bill Buxton
Master Chair, Vistage International – CEO Peer Group, 13-time Chair Excellence Award

The Second Decision is a must-read if that amazing purpose and drive of yours created your current business success – but you’re a bit edgy and nervous about how to move forward from here.  This book goes way beyond the usual “nice-in-theory” business advice and gives you actual hands-on, do-able strategies for building a strong company with a game plan for lasting success!


Christine Kane
CEO – UpLevel You

Reading Randy’s book and completing his Qual Card will go a long way in assisting the entrepreneur with that all important second decision to launch and leave or launch and lead – and win!

After 30 years of naval service from ensign to flag officer, 10 years of senior executive corporate leadership experience and now five years in higher education, I passionately believe that The Second Decision is a must read for entrepreneurs at all stages of the corporate life cycle, and for every potential senior level executive/leader. Why? Proper qualification and self-awareness are essential at any level, and in any organization. Randy’s critical self-assessment, disciplined and “qualified” approach, founded on solid core values, will provide a huge assist for the leader with their vision, clarity, process and accountability!


R.E. “Benny” Suggs
Rear Admiral, US Navy (retired) Associate Vice Chancellor – NC State University

I love this book and I will be giving copies to every business client I coach. It is well written, incredibly well researched and pulls no punches.

In Randy’s words “…this is not just another book in which veteran entrepreneurs drop pearls of wisdom; it’s an actual program for improving corporate leaders, and this was inspired by my service in the Navy from 1983 to 1989.”

To qualify for his title of Officer of the Deck of the James Madison Nuclear Submarine, Randy had to have a working knowledge of every aspect of running the ship.

Randy hits home with his message by studying like an apprentice in each department as he was required to do in his Navy training, to gain the requisite knowledge and understanding “that it takes to run finance, marketing, production, distribution or sales.”

The book challenges you to look inside of yourself by answering tough questions throughout. As Randy clearly demonstrates, there is an exhilarating freedom that comes from disciplined thinking and systematic execution.

The end result is a clear path to grow in your role as a leader and entrepreneur.


Rich Russakoff
“Coach to the Best”, Author Make Banks COMPETE to Lend You Money

So you decided to go into business for yourself.  You have a great idea, product or service and you venture out on your own and before you know it you’ve got a real business…customers, employees, inventory, payables, receivables….  Now what?  As The Second Decision so aptly points out, that was the easy part.

As Randy Nelson points out, what separates the professional entrepreneur from the business person is knowing what role you should play in your company.  If your business is ever going to grow, you have to ask yourself a very difficult question, “Are you the best person in your company to be the CEO/leader of your company or should you stay in sales, product development or another position and hire someone to lead?”  In a very simple format, Randy has created the Entrepreneur Qual Card to help business owners answer this very difficult question.

I first met Randy in 1999 at MIT’s Birthing of Giants program and quickly realized that he has the unique ability to take the complex and break it down into simple to understand pieces.  The Second Decision should be a must read for all entrepreneurs wanting to take themselves and their business to the next level.


Sam O’Krent
CEO – O’Krent’s Abbey Flooring Center

Every seasoned entrepreneur has made The Second Decision, whether consciously or otherwise.  Through insights gained from his own entrepreneurial journeys, Randy outlines a disciplined approach to that decision-making process that will help set both the venture and the entrepreneur on a course for success.  I highly recommend this book for any budding entrepreneur so that he or she can make The Second Decision consciously, rather than through expensive lessons learned in the School of Hard Knocks.


Tom Miller
Senior Vice-Provost, Executive Director, NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative

Great read for bootstrappers and VC-backed entrepreneurs alike. Every founder must decide what they want to do when they grow up. But whoever thought such a hard decision is best made right as your company starts to hit it big? Make the right decision and you’ll turn your current rocket ship into a repeatable process that is more valuable than any single exit.


Aaron W. Houghton
Serial Entrepreneur, Co-founder at iContact.com, Co-founder and CEO at BoostSuite.com #4 most influential CEO’s under 30 – Small business website Under30CEO – 2011

Randy Nelson’s impact on our growing enterprise and me as its now qualified leader has been nothing short of remarkable.   Our team has a newfound enthusiasm for accomplishing the vision Randy has helped us create with the assistance of his entrepreneurial qual card.  After 30 years, we’re acting like a real business!


Scott Griffin
CEO – Practicon

There are a lot of business books written by some of the best. However, nothing beats what Randy has written about. It speaks to the essence of entrepreneurship, leadership and management. Through Randy’s experiences he writes a masterpiece that every entrepreneur and CEO should read and re-read and then go out and follow his advice to maximize the value of your company.


Jim Baker
CEO, Sumus Development Group, Inc.; Co-Founder; Raleigh-Durham Chapter, Entrepreneurs Organization

The worst thing you can do as a leader is to not be self-aware of your shortcomings!


Greg Lindberg
Eli Global, LLC

The academic study of business is one thing, real-world experience is another and Randy has it in spades. This is a smart guy combining his financial background with his military discipline and the realities of what makes a successful business – sharing his wisdom and experience with us. – Priceless.


Paul Levering
Partner, BlueHat Mechanical

Successful CEOs are not born, they are made and developed. No matter if you are just starting out or consider yourself a seasoned entrepreneur we can all use help in developing a blue print on how to start and grow a profitable company. I have had the privilege of working with Randy for over 14 years and the tools listed in The Second Decision are the ones he has taught me over the years and the same ones I use to run and grow my business today.


Darrell McDaniel
President, NSTAR Global Services

Randy Nelson has superbly encapsulated the essence of his military experience and his entrepreneurial experience into an invaluable tool for the leaders of post start-up companies—the “Entrepreneur Qual Card.” As a subsequent leader of Orion, Randy’s first start-up, I leaned heavily on his expertise and have found much success through the years as a result. Having all of his expertise in one book will serve as a very valuable resource for any entrepreneur facing the inherent challenges of leading and growing a successful business.


Mike Starich
Former U.S. Marine Corps officer, President, Orion International

If you have already beaten the odds and established a successful business, this book is a necessity.  Randy’s remarkable insights give you the clarity to define your optimal role in your business and unlock the highest possible value and enjoyment from your hard work.


Jon Jordan
CEO – Atlantic BT (6 time Inc. 5000 award winner)

I participate in a CEO advisory board with Randy Nelson:  we’ve got Inc. 500 winners, guys that have sold 8-9 figure companies—some really sharp minds sitting around the table.  That we (affectionately) nicknamed him “Yoda” tells you all you need to know.  I’ve learned a lot from Randy, while growing my business this year to #753 on the Inc. 5000 list, and so can every other business leader.


Brett Watkins
President, L&E Research

The Second Decision: the QUALIFIED Entrepreneur, hits the nail on the head! Addressing the unspoken truth that is needed to successfully make the transition from entrepreneur hyped-on-growth to a real CEO and leader focused on value creation.


Kenneth H. Marks
Managing Partner – High Rock Partners, and author of The Handbook of Financing Growth

Randy’s unique and common sense approach to business has helped me take my businesses to a new level.  I would recommend his teachings to any business owner who is serious about success.


Gordon Jones
CEO – Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty, Seaside Vacations

In the exciting, fast paced and high flying world of entrepreneurship, the world often overlooks one of its most important facets, the need for discipline.   Randy does a great job of challenging founders to decide what type of entrepreneur they want to be and then shows them how to be one that manages their business with discipline.


Chris Ng Cashin
Co-founder The Thundershirt Company

Every Entrepreneurial leader needs a well thought out game plan. I’ve been around a number of highly accomplished coaches and CEO’s in my career and this is a must read!


Anthony Dilweg
Former NFL Quarterback, CEO – The Dilweg Companies

If you are willing to commit to the Entrepreneur Qual Card, Randy Nelson’s The Second Decision will generate an off the chart ROI. Randy has proven he knows how to lead during times of strong growth as well as the steep downturns we all cringe thinking about.


Bill Murphy
CEO – Murphy, Inc.

I have been with Randy in his Vistage group for over 10 years, and I can sum it up very succinctly: The Second Decision is a must read for the entrepreneur who wants to build a sustainable company for the long term.


Brian Allen
CEO – Precision Walls

Randy is a seasoned serial entrepreneur, but more importantly a mentor to me and others.  Many of us look up to him as Luke did to Yoda. I’ve learned plenty just in the questions he asks. I am forever grateful for his willingness to share his experiences in our EO forum. For you readers who are about to meet him, get ready to learn from one of the good guys!


Kyle Breischaft
EO Member / CEO of Adaptive Health Systems, LLC

This book makes a fresh and highly valuable contribution to entrepreneurs everywhere. Successfully making The Second Decision is what separates highly successful business leaders from perpetually struggling entrepreneur wannabes. After all, in today’s world of pop-up online businesses and start-ups de jour, opening a new business isn’t the hardest part…staying in business and profitably growing over the long term is the real trick. This is where Randy’s depth of experience really pays off for readers.

Rooted in real-world experiences from his highly-successful military and business endeavors, Randy shows us the importance of becoming qualified business owners and leaders. Importantly, he also guides us through the process of finding our best and most authentic role that will contribute the most towards the ultimate success of the business: the leader, role-player or creator. So, pick up this book, settle in at your favorite coffee shop, and start your journey to becoming a qualified entrepreneur. Your business, your employees, your investors, your family…and most importantly, your customers…will thank you for it.


David W. Wilson
CEO, FGI Research & Analytics; Founder, Alliance Medical Ministry

I have had the pleasure of participating with Randy in a Vistage Group for the past 7 years.  Randy’s insights into both personal and business level accountability have consistently had a direct impact on our company’s performance.


Mark Lee
President – Baker Roofing

Very few athletes truly want the ball in their hands at the end of the game and are capable of delivering the winning shot consistently. Randy is that guy…somebody you don’t want to be playing on the final nine in match play on a golf course…he brings the same mentality to building successful businesses and wants to see the future success of the organization in the hands of a qualified entrepreneur…don’t read this book unless you want and can handle that responsibility as the leader!


Dennis Kelley/Alex Chandler/Mark Boumenot/Pete Zsoldos
Glen Laurel Partners

I was delighted when I was approached by my alma mater, NC State University, and offered the opportunity to create the “General H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center.” This is where I first met Randy Nelson. The creative, entrepreneurial ideas that have made him so successful in his business career, along with the seasoned leadership that grew from his time in the US Navy, were invaluable in making our own startup, the Shelton Leadership Center, a reality. The sustained growth of the Shelton Leadership Center is due, in no small way, to Randy’s advice, experience and commitment.


General H. Hugh Shelton (Ret.)
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1997−2001)