THE SHOW MUST GO ON

  “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”
Mother Theresa –

This chapter reveals how Barbara continued to build her company without help, however, she purposefully made sure that she gave the impression that Seabreeze Products Inc. had a sales and administrative support staff.

I found myself in the midst of what many entrepreneurs only dream about. My invention, the Beach Pockets ® Umbrellas and newly patented Beach Pocket ® Anchors were selling well. My company had grown exponentially. I had three active children, husband, and worked part time as a dental hygienist.  I employed, for a short period, only one part-time person then added an intern. But the whirlwind of success turned into a treadmill that seemed, at times, to be utterly out of control.

Most often when we start a new business we are constantly finding ways to keep our expenses down. What I learned from my experience is that finding help does not have to break the bank. I recommend that you ask friends and family members when looking for part time help when you are starting out. As you need additional full time help, it was recommended to me that I look for someone outside of family and friends.
I hired one part time office administrative person for the first few years that was not a family member and this worked out great. Since my son and father had business backgrounds I gave them a title as CFO, and COO but they were rarely in my offices. My husband was Executive VP and eventually took an active role a few years later while we experienced exponential growth . Assigning these titles in the beginning was important because the vendor application forms to the major retailers require the names of your managing team.  Our CFO was our corporate accountant.

Although I had named these managing members on application forms, the truth is that I was the one that over saw all operations. The first several years I was the sales person, product designer, managed inventory, negotiated pricing for warehouse space across the country, processed the purchase orders, managed all product bar codes assignments, traveled the country for more sales orders, packed the products for shipping from ‘on-line’ orders, and solved the daily problems. I was working over 14 hours a day and there was not a single break until the year before I found a licensing partner. This is when I hired a full time sales rep. That year, I would often say to myself, “ why didn’t I hire this sales rep earlier?”   Our company was growing and I needed  additional financing to meet all the new product orders. Here is an example: Just for one customer, I needed $743,000.00 to wire to our factory for their order.  We came up with the money but now I saw an  ongoing problem as my company grew.

We all want our businesses to ‘take off’ but we must be prepared. I was not. This was a mistake and a lesson I learned well and share with millions of new entrepreneurs. For me it turned out alright since I was able to find a partner and sign a Licensing Agreement for them to take over the business. They were a larger company manufacturing sporting goods. But during the few years right before that, I could have planned for expansion and had the financing for growth in order. Then again, with the economy the way it was in 2008, those well laid out plans may never have materialized. In other words, we can only plan.. but remember no one has a crystal ball to predict accurately what will happen.

My advice:

As your company sales start to show promising growth, go to your bank and find out what they will offer you in the next few years. I would also investigate “ Angel Investors’ and find out what they will offer too. Remember, banks and investors will be interested only when you have significant sales history showing stable growth.