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Lost Over $200k Trying to Start a Business

This post on Reddit talks about how an entrepreneur lost over $200k trying to start a business brings up excellent things to consider when starting a business.

Every business is different, but some key lessons that apply to almost all businesses are numbers #3, #7, and #9.

Lesson #3: Don’t Build Everything At Once

As an entrepreneur, you are likely the CEO and janitor. In other words, you have a lot to juggle and little cash to spend. Getting the core product/service to market takes precedence over spending time and money adding bells and whistles.

Lesson #7: You Can Be Either Low Frequency or Low Price, but Not Both

In other words, you can make infrequent big sales or frequent small sales, but not both. Most businesses fail because of illiquidity (i.e. not enough cash). Expenses never stop and must be paid even in between sales, so make sure you are always generating sales. A SaaS/user-base business is slightly different because the revenue model is based on data and advertising, but a similar maxim still exists.

Lesson #9: A Founder’s #1 Job is Sales

Once the CEO is done with janitorial duties for the day, it’s back to the phones making calls. For example, one of the main jobs of a partner at a law firm is increasing yearly revenue. They might not be doing contract review or picking up trash, but they are rainmaking.

See the full Reddit post below:

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Emerging Young Entrepreneurs

Your Startup Guru Managing Director, Joon Hong, recently had the opportunity to advise the 2022 cohort in the Emerging Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) program on their pitch decks.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council’s Emerging Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) program is a year-long program uniquely designed to provide the next generation of minority entrepreneur participants ages 19-35 with support to enhance their growing business. Business owners will receive guidance from corporate sponsors, MBEs, and additional stakeholders. EYE will utilize an interactive pre and post-conference curriculum along with five days of hands-on training and practical application. Participants are provided the skills, tools, and strategies to start or grow their innovative businesses.

About NMSDC’s Emerging Young Entrepreneurs Program

Founded in 1972, the National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc.® (NMSDC®) is the longest-operating business growth engine for the broadest group of systematically excluded communities of color (Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, and Native American)and our impact goes far beyond supply chain. It’s about upward mobility for the emerging majority of Americans, an equal shot at participating in the American experiment of free-market capitalism and entrepreneurship. Our work is about correcting the unequal access to wealth-building opportunities.

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Pitch decks are a fantastic document to raise capital for your business. Contact us today to get started on your pitch deck.

SBIR Seed Funding

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) is investing up to $2 million in seed funding, aka America’s Seed Fund. America’s Seed Fund is a program within the National Science Foundation and housed within the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. This congressionally mandated program aims to foster innovation and help create businesses and jobs in all areas of the United States, and small businesses funded by our program have since gone on to tremendous success, changing industries, and helping people and the planet. Click here for more information.

Contact us today to get started on your pitch deck.

Monday Motivation

Some motivation this Monday

The Floppy Disk Business

Talk about being in a niche market! This fascinating article talks about Tom Persky the self-proclaimed “last man standing in the floppy disk business.”

See a Need, Fill a Need

Leveraging his experience outside of the floppy disk business as a tax attorney and software developer, Persky found opportunities to offer sales, recycling, and data transfer services.

Because we were a tax-oriented company and had specific tax filing deadlines, we only used our duplication equipment once every quarter. For 89 days in a row, the machines would be unused and then, on a single day, we would punch out thousands and thousands of floppy disks. At some point, I looked at the machines and how they were unused for so much of the time, and I had the idea to take in other people’s laundry.

Client Feedback

Persky had a business model in mind but shrewdly pivoted to include other service offerings at the request of his customers. Clearly a business should not listen to every whim of their customers. However, the service should be added if the cost-benefit analysis indicates a profitable expansion. Contact us for help with this analysis.

In the beginning, I figured we would do floppy disks, but never CDs. Eventually, we got into CDs and I said we’d never do DVDs. A couple of years went by and I started duplicating DVDs. Now I’m also duplicating USB drives. You can see from this conversation that I’m not exactly a person with great vision. I just follow what our customers want us to do. When people ask me: “Why are you into floppy disks today?” the answer is: “Because I forgot to get out of the business.” Everybody else in the world looked at the future and came to the conclusion that this was a dying industry.

Luck

Luck is ALWAYS a factor in business. However, it takes skill to be able to survive long enough for a chance for luck to come your way.

Over time, the total number of floppy users has gone down. However, the number of people who provided the product went down even faster. If you look at those two curves, you see that there is a growing market share for the last man standing in the business, and that man is me.

Circling back to seeing a need and listening to customers. Opportunities will present themselves when you keep your eyes and ears open.

Another thing that happened organically was the start of our floppy disk recycling service. We give people the opportunity to send us floppy disks and we recycle them, rather than put them into a landfill. The sheer volume of floppy disks we get in has really surprised me, it’s sometimes a 1,000 disks a day.

Know Your Market

Persky knows his market. A.K.A. customers. Your market (customers) are not only those that you’ve identified but also those you did not know use your (or your competitor’s) product. Knowing your market takes a lot of research and asking questions.

Take the airline industry for example. Probably half of the air fleet in the world today is more than 20 years old and still uses floppy disks in some of the avionics. That’s a huge consumer. There’s also medical equipment, which requires floppy disks to get the information in and out of medical devices. The biggest customer of all is probably the embroidery business though. Thousands and thousands of machines that use floppy disks were made for this, and they still use these.

Tom Persky truly fell into the floppy disk business but made smart decisions to capitalize on the opportunities that came up. Part of it is luck, but part of it is also making the right decisions long enough to be lucky.

See our posts: Importance of Niche-ing, See a Need, Fill a Need, and Product Life Cycle for more related information.

The Case for Small Businesses

The case for small businesses is a strong one. From job creation to patents filed, small businesses are a major driving force in the economy.

Small Businesses are an Engine for Job Creation

Despite losing 9.1 million jobs in the first two quarters of 2020, small businesses’ job growth rebounded swiftly following the COVID-19 recession. In the four quarters following, small businesses have gained 5.5 million jobs, making up for 60 percent of the decline during the early pandemic. Small businesses have generated 12.9 million net new jobs over the past 25 years, accounting for two out of every three jobs added to the economy. Source.

Small Businesses are Drivers of Innovation

Experts often use patenting activity as a proxy for innovation. Data from the National Science Foundation show that small businesses that engage in R&D generate more patents per employee than larger businesses that engage in R&D. However, small business patenting activity fell significantly following 2010.

The decline is now reversing. Small businesses recovered to two-thirds of peak patent application levels from 2015 to 2018 and recovered to half of peak patents received levels in the same timeframe. Source.

Small Businesses Need Support

Unfortunately, more than 90,000 restaurants that have closed across the U.S. in the past two years. Restaurant industry sales in 2021 were down $65 billion from 2019’s pre-pandemic levels. A touching article in High Country News tells the touching story of the last day at DeDe’s, a mom-and-pop restaurant in St. George, UT.

She suffered a stroke a year ago and hadn’t been able to visit. “When DeDe found out, she made my mom’s favorite meal — a ham, mushroom, and spinach omelet with Swiss cheese and a slice of cantaloupe — and delivered it to the care facility,” Feesago said. “It’s more than food. DeDe made us feel like family.”

This type of value-added service without an exorbitant surcharge would be unheard of in a corporate restaurant scenario. The personal touch is also gone. Optimizing for profit results in diminished customer experiences. The typical story of a small company that grows until it catches the eye of a larger firm is common. The value and brand that the small company created are gutted to make room for shareholder value creation. The original loyal customers eventually leave because the magic is gone. This is done over and over again until Main Streets throughout the US begin to look exactly the same with the same 15 corporations.

The tragic irony in all this is that corporations spend a considerable amount of resources trying to recreate a “we treat you like family” environment that customers want. Unfortunately, it is just marketing, and the user experience is not genuine. The corporations would do better as a holding company that lets the small business operate with minimal interference. The parent company could provide occasional funding for expansions, hiring, and process improvements.

Small improvements can lead to significant benefits. Our blog post Competitive Advantage and Coffee talks about how a simple gesture such as remembering regular customers’ names can result in higher coffee sales. Another example is DK’s Donuts a small independent donut store in Santa Monica, CA that has been in business since 1983. Even when mega-chain Dunkin’ Donuts opened a block away, business did not suffer because the user experience, customer service in other words, was not there at Dunkin’ Donuts.

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Fail Better

Fail better. The only way to accomplish anything is to try. However, unless you are incredibly lucky, you will fail. A lot. This is when you decide to quit or to try again. This time, you try again with a different approach. You look at what those that succeeded did. You find and ask mentors. You fail again but now you are failing better. You keep trying again. Eventually, you will no longer fail.

Contact us today to launch and grow your business.

Brazilian Jiujitsu Financial Projections

Brazilian jiujitsu academy Carlson Gracie South Bay requested financial projections to help plan for an upcoming expansion.

Accurate financial projections allow an academy to know how much they can spend on rent, service pricing, headcount break-even points, budget for their operating expenses such as marketing and payroll, and much more.

About Carlson Gracie South Bay

Brazilian jiujitsu academy Carlson Gracie South Bay offers classes throughout the week, one class in the morning and one class in the evening,so you can easily fit your training into your schedule. The student will learn techniques and principles that made Brazilian jiujitsu the most efficient and effective fighting art in the world. 

Carlson Gracie South Bay students compete in the highest level tournaments and hold numerous titles at the World, Pan American and Open Championships at IBJJF, NABJJF, JJWL, Abu Dhabi, BJJ PRO and NAGA federations. They also have students competing at UFC and EBI tournaments.

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Contact us today to get financial projections for your Brazilian jiujitsu academy.

Fundraising Pitch Deck for Medical Company Syncore

Syncore is a medical company that came to Your Startup Guru for a fundraising pitch deck. With over 75,000 medical-associated infection deaths a year and 57% of sterilization processing department workers are not fully qualified, the need for Syncore’s services were overwhelming. However, without a solid pitch deck to raise secure startup capital, it was difficult for them to fill that need.

About Syncore

Syncore was founded on the belief that education and training, along with utilizing today’s technology, can promote healthy change. Syncore offers a holistic approach to healthcare services covering all aspects of a facility:

  • Litigation Testimony
    • The scope of surgery can be very complex. We can create action plans for court testimony and Joint Commission responses. We also offer detailed reports and will speak on behalf of your company. We offer simple solutions as needed in your situation.
  • Staff and Management Training
    • Operating rooms today have service line coordinators and specialty techs for specialty cases but in sterile processing all techs are expected to know everything and it has never worked. Training SPD techs similar to the practices of the O.R. is key to bridging the communication gaps and preventing service delays within your department.
  • Resource Cost Utilization
    • We take a deep dive into your sterile processing department product utilization and your staffs understanding of such resources. We find that on average there is substantial waste that can be easily eliminated with better work practices that will easily satisfy any infection control regulatory agency.
  • Staff Education
    • So your staff knows how to load the autoclave and washer; but does your staff truly understand their job and the science behind it? We give complete competencies in decontamination, assembly, quality assurance, instrumentation, documentation, and will assist in creating an education curriculum or department orientation for your team. We not only will train but will teach your staff as well.
  • Business Strategy
    • Does the equipment in your sterile processing department serves your hospital as intended? We can assist in planning and execution of capital requests, department planning, blueprints, and design flow. Your department has to make sense for surgeon satisfaction and a highly productive team.
  • Policy Creation
    • Once you are satisfied with the implemented changes you must make sure to include the accountability factor. We can help create policies as needed to drive the change into the needed culture change of your facility. We will also come in after the fact and help sustain the change as needed. Your success is our success.

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Learn more about pitch decks here and contact us today to have a professionally crafted, custom-made pitch deck for your business!

3-Year Financial Projection for SaaS app Park Yourself

Your Startup Guru created a custom-made 3-year financial projection for SaaS app company Park Yourself which allowed the founder to anticipate future revenues and expenses.

Your Startup Guru created a custom-made 3-year financial projection for SaaS app company Park Yourself which allowed the founder to anticipate future revenues and expenses.

About Park Yourself

Hunting for a parking space or EV charging station can be unnecessarily tedious and incredibly frustrating at times. With just a tap, Park Yourself helps you seamlessly find and reserve your parking or charging spot on the go.

  • Look Anywhere and Anytime
    • Search for great parking or vehicle charging spaces near your destination. We list thousands of lots, garages, private driveways, parking spaces and Electronic Vehicle charging hubs in real-time. Compare locations using multiple filters including distance and price. With all the available spaces at your fingertips, Park Yourself allows you to cut your search time in half. Book and pay for your space on the spot or in advance and you’re guaranteed to have a convenient time on the go.
  • Book Simply and Easily
    • Book on the spot and pre-pay in advance to reserve your desired parking or charging space and have a guaranteed slot waiting for you upon your arrival. No more driving around looking for an empty lot, street parking or the nearest EV charging station during your trip. Park Yourself removes your worries about expiring meters, parking tickets and unwanted interruptions on the road.
  • Park Conveniently
    • Redeem your purchase seamlessly at your selected location. No more worries and no more driving around looking for the perfect spot. With Park Yourself, you get to save time and money with hassle-free drive-ins.
  • 24/7 Support
    • Our support team is available round-the-clock to assist you with your inquiries and concerns. Contact the parking lot staff to get answers quickly using a simple in-app chat feature.

Launch and Grow Your Business

With the financial projection Your Startup Guru created for Park Yourself, they know when cash will be low, their break-even point, sales escalation, budgets, and more. No business, including SaaS apps, can confidently plan for the future without a thorough and accurate financial projection. Contact us to create a custom-made 3 or 5-year financial projection for your business.

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