The Decision

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There is a point in all entrepreneurs careers when they have to make the decision to sign on the dotted line and commit fully to their venture. Well that decision is right around the corner for me, and will be a decision I have to make within the next couple of months. When thinking about your venture, well more like obsessing, you only tend to look at the goods. You think how much money current businesses in the market make a year, the amount of clients they have, and the number of services they perform. These are all generally good things that lead to profit and success so its easy to get wrapped around them. It takes a talk with a specific someone to get your head back on straight, and that’s with your family, specifically your mother.

After thinking of ways I can make money with this business, expanding services, adding different types of customers, offering deals, it wasn’t until a phone call from my mom to get me to realize I am still a young immature entrepreneur. A quick call points out topics such as weather and seasonal issues with the business, overhead costs, partner agreements, and what is my exit strategy. Where I was caught looking at only the positives it took a phone call from my mom to get me back in my lane focused on my new problems that need to be overcome to be successful. I’m not saying my mom convinced me not to go with my business idea, she just pointed me in a realistic direction I hadn’t considered yet, and honestly her words of wisdom will help me perfect my business plan and will shed light on areas I haven’t covered yet.

With this comes revisions to my current business plan, which will only make it stronger. Although she did have valid points, she forgot that this business can be sold by word of mouth. Where the times might be running slow with little customers, in this business all it takes is a phone call to some known clients and some deals to get your business back booming in the times its usually doesn’t. This has also brought my attention to areas of the business that can be utilized to make tons of money that haven’t been used yet. Expanding services to boats is an idea I have, we could perform all the same services as we do on a car but this time it would be your boat that is spotless clean when its done at my shop. With corrections comes new ideas, and that’s what it means to be an entrepreneur. Finding the ways that work, to sell your product or services to the public who want/need them.

Business Partners

When starting to plan your own business, you have to take into consideration if a partnership would be smart and if it could benefit your business in a way you couldn’t do alone. When I think of business the idea of a business partner is one I do like, having to share the responsibility can make it easier on yourself as an owner, and takes away the half the risk. These reasons are enough for me to consider a business partner, although it has to be the right one.

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Business partners only work when they both offer something, or bring something to the table. First things first you never want to have a business partner with a garnished name, partnering with someone that people know for the wrong reasons never looks good for your business. When looking for a partner you should ask yourself some questions to make sure you have found the right one. You have to know everything about the person that your partnering with, family issues, if they are focused on the business, if they have financial trouble. You need to get to know the person in order to make a judgement on if they will cut it or not. Going back to making sure your partner brings something to the table, its honestly true. Whats the point of having a partner who doesn’t offer you anything besides cash. If you know the right people cash is easy to find, you need a partner who is as dedicated and in love with the business as much as you are. You don’t need to be supporting dead weight, if that’s the case you should get a larger loan to start a sole proprietorship, not waste your time with a partnership.

When you find the right partner and they offer something that makes your business unique or stronger than you have something special. If you can work together as a team, then you are on your way to success. However what do you do when a partnership goes south? Going to court is never a good option, do you offer to sell out or do you consider purchasing your partners shares? You should always have an exit plan, maybe save some of your salary for a “what if” account in case you do need to acquire the rest of the company. Or maybe you sell, and have a pay day to start a new venture. Partnerships are a fragile thing, you need to give each other space and respect, and have understanding when it doesn’t go your way. With that being said I do still think partnerships are crucial to being successful in business, and I will be pursuing a partner when I look to get my venture started.

 

Getting Started

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One thing all entrepreneurs face in the beginning stages of creating a venture is the business plan. A business plan tells your reader what your business is about, what you offer, and what you want. This is what brings home the business loans, and is what you show future investors. But where do you start? For me when I think of my venture I see the business plan in my head. Its neatly written in perfect order with sufficient detail and is lengthy in page numbers. This isn’t the case when I sit down to start writing though. Once I get to the computer to start typing, it seems like I can’t find the words, it doesn’t seem professional, or its just short of information.

So what can I do to fix this problem? I can take classes on how to write a business plan, I can Google business plans and try to copy one online however with my specific details, or I could pay a professional to create this plan. With these three options has come some research, classes aren’t offered during summer to write business plans so that is out the door, however ENT 492/493 do teach entrepreneurs how to make a business plans at UNR. Second would be go to the internet, with the internet its interesting because you have a perfect copy in front of you and its hard not to imitate it, you have totally lost all personal pieces of your writing when your using the same technique someone else already did. The last option is to have a professional create it, and its what I am leaning more towards. Having a professional create your business plan is interesting, it takes a couple meetings of talk and research before he can finally start your plan. It will cost between $1,500-3,000 after our meeting he will give me the quote. If I agree it will take him about a month, to do the proper research and to get the business plan created. By the end of the month the professional will present the plan to me and if I like it then I will accept it and will start taking it to investors. If there are problems with the plan than revisions will occur which are covered in the terms of agreement with the professional.

Although I am leaning towards having someone write my business plan who has written many successful business plans before. I feel lazy and almost like a cheat, like I said he has written hundreds of business plans for people in the past, and this is his own personal business/career, but does that make it right? If I didn’t create my own business plan, would the business be truly mine or should I thank my success to my “ghost writer”. The thought has been in the back of my mind for some time now, and its the last decision I will need to make before I am on my way.

Opportunities Knockin’

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Since I have started this blog I have had two ventures that I would be interested in pursuing in the back of my mind. The first is an tourist excursion I blogged about called Alaskan Adventure Excursions, and the second was a small food shack idea that would sell only authentic Alaskan treats to tourist during the tourist season. With both those ideas have come lots of thought and planning, fairly certain I would pursue one or the other after I graduated from school. After talking with my family about both possibilities I had their full support in whatever decision I made. The only difference between both ventures was price. One excursion would take a business loan around $200,000-500,000 while the other excursion would need a loan of about $50,000.

When I was going over my options its obvious that the business that would cost $200,000-500,000 is the least likely to happen. I don’t have a rich uncle off somewhere in the lower 48, and a business loan that size is kind of frightening. So I was set on the food shack idea, the overhead is low, its an authentic Alaskan treat sought after by tourist, it has a lot of potential. The shack would be a bagel shack that services Alaskan salmon and crab on the bagels. I could purchase my fish from local Taku Fisheries, which has the freshest salmon in the world. Getting ready to finish up with school I have planned to open my shack by tourist season 2016. So far my father and sister were on board to help me with the operations, my dad is a finance officer so he will be taking care of the financials and my sister came up with the idea so she is part owner. The plan is set, my sister will take bagel making classes in New York, I am creating the business plan to pitch to our investor, everything seemed to be going slowly but smoothly.

It wasn’t until a couple nights ago that I got a call from my dad with an opportunity that presented itself. Living in the small town of Juneau Alaska, business is minimal and there tons of opportunity to entering markets to compete with the leaders. My dads friend is working for his fathers business which is a car company, this company is the leader in its specific industry in our town and is very profitable. With money comes problems, the owners son who manages and runs the operation isn’t getting treated fairly and is interesting in starting a new operation. Looking for partnership he approached my dad, who automatically referred him to me. I have known about the company and its success for many years and have been interested in getting a job with them in the past. All this has happened pretty fast and I’m more than excited to pursue it.

Now I’m on the brink of starting my own operation with a partner who is respected and known around the community, I can’t help to feel immature about my actions. I had put so much time into the my first two ventures, one of which I completely scratched from the drawing board, only to drop everything again and start a new one. It feel like I’m not being loyal to myself, however when an opportunity like this presents itself I couldn’t imagine the amount of regret I would feel if I decided to pass it up. So if an opportunity presents itself, take it, a life of regret isn’t much of a life at all.

Making the Leap to Commitment

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As a young aspiring entrepreneur about to enter the real world, I am faced with this nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach and a thought in my head asking me, when am I going to make the leap? The hardest part about being an entrepreneur I have found is committing 100% to your venture, or making the leap if you will. This is when you leave your full time job, with security, benefits and fair pay all behind to start on your own “American Dream.”

But how do you know when its the right time to leave? You could have a set goal for an amount of money you need before you’ll walk away from the job, or you could be fed up with your work and can’t take another day. When to leaves changes in all situations and differs between each individual.

So this brings me to the topic of when I should leave my secure job, to start my own business in the future. Being a college student for the past four years hasn’t exactly helped my bank account out at all. When I get back to Alaska I will have a secure job that I am good at, waiting for me. How long should I wait until I fully commit to starting my own business, I started to figure out exactly how long it will take by using the money method. If I need $75,000 dollars to get my business up and running then I will definitely need some money to put into the project, where I can still give it a sufficient amount of time and effort to get everything ready and prepare. A year of secure pay should start me on my way, although $75,000 is a lot of money, having a business partner with stellar credit should secure a business loan from the bank. A year of work is necessary in case there need to have cash up front, or if the venture will cost more than our loan.
So the plan looks like this, once I return to Alaska I will work for a year to save money and to complete my business plan and get all of my ducks in a row. Once I have some money saved I will leave work to start out on my own business. Leaving work will probably happen in the winter, since my job is slow by then. I must make sure everything is 100% complete or correctly planned before I quit my job, business plan, bank issues, property, equipment all must be taken care of. Once that is done I will respectfully quit, and will pursue my business. Although this is a rough draft of my plan, I felt like I needed to learn from other entrepreneurs when the right time to quit your job was so I searched the web.

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I came across an article in the blog Inc. about Shark Tanks, Daymond John and when he thinks entrepreneurs should quit their jobs. called discussing what he did when he left his day job to pursue his venture. To my surprise Daymond did the opposite, when he created FUBU a popular clothing brand he kept his job for years at Red Lobster so he wouldn’t jeopardize his entrepreneurial vision. Daymond stated that the worst part about owning a business is the stress, and its always stressful when you don’t have secure income coming in outside of your venture. He said to wait until your business is growing and selling itself then its time to quit your job. As I said before quitting your job to make the leap is the biggest decision and entrepreneur has to make, and its the only thing stopping them from success.

Call to Action: When would you quit your job to start your own business? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section.

Success Story: Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour

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Earlier in my blog I made a post about a possible tourist excursion I was interested in starting in Juneau, AK. The excursion would be called Alaska Adventure Excursions: Crabbing Excursion, and would consist of a two hour tour on Juneau open waters, pulling crab pots with tourists giving them an authentic experience of what its like to crab fish in the last frontier. When creating this idea for an excursion one of my researchers found direct competition with my idea located in Ketchikan Alaska.

Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour has been a very successful excursion out of Ketchikan AK, supposedly ranked the number one excursion for tourist out of their port.Their excursion idea is identical to mine, they based their excursion of the show deadliest catch. Some early key success factors Bering Sea Crab had was the use of popular equipment and personal. Bering Sea Crab was able to purchase a boat that was damaged on the show of deadliest catch, they also hire ex deadliest catch members to work their excursions during the summer. That is pretty cool when the guy running your tour fished in the Bering sea on Deadliest Catch, very hard to compete with.

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As of now Bering Sea Crab offers a 3 hour tour that holds up to 50 passengers. With this size boat and the amount of passengers they can carry allows for them to have huge revenue from each trip. There are some negative aspects of their excursion that tourist have made comments about online. For instance tourists don’t like how the excursion is like a Broadway show, with stadium seating and a fence keeping you back from the actual fishing. The tourist also commented that they didn’t like how Bering Sea Crab fed the eagles with dead fish to get them closer for pictures. Lots of people from the lower 48 think that its wrong to bait animals like that. With that being said, Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s tour does have sold out tours a majority of the time. Although there are some negatives most tourist think the excursion is magnificent and recommend it to other tourist.

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Although this excursion is already proven to be successful I feel that their are some things they can do to accommodate peoples requests. Tourist don’t want to sit and watch something they watch on T.V. they want to experience it, touch it, and get their hands dirty. You could also add different aspects to your tour, for instance promote whale watching or some sort of viewing from the excursion as well to make the tourist feel like they got more for their money. The tourist industry is all about giving an excursion people will love that they feel was worth their money, when you have these features then the tour will sell itself and word will go around about your business.

Call to Action: If you enjoy reading about new ventures in Alaska, follow me on Twitter below!

 

Kake Oyster Farm Apprenticeship

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In the world of entBJB_oyster1repreneurship apprenticeship are hard to come by, unless your working for a venture capitalist firm, a young entrepreneur has limited options when first starting out in their careers other then their own business ideas. I feel more apprenticeships should be offered in the real world, as of now it just seems like construction or physical labor jobs are the only ones that offer apprenticeships, while college students sit in classes learning from books. If college students could spend more time in the field practicing what they will be doing in their career they would be much more prepared then studying for a test which won’t be remembered.

Although I don’t agree with the 21st century teaching methods, and believe that apprenticeships should be utilized more in every field. I did put in my time in the classroom to earn my degree. Now with no experience in business other than university classes, I am forced to enter the workforce with my management degree and an entrepreneurial mindset.

As I’ve said in my previous posts I plan on going back to Alaska to pursue some sort of business in the tourism industry. Having my mind set on the water, owning water life excursions such as Alaska Adventure Excursions that would do crabbing trips with tourist, I was doing some research about neighboring competition and found an apprenticeship program for young Alaskans. Its call the Kake Oyster Farm Apprenticeship Program, located in Kake Alaska. The program was creastedman1ted by the regional shellfish farming industry, and the community of Kake. The program gets entrepreneurs who are interested in making money locally, to complete a three year program which ends with a business loan to get your Oyster farm up and running.

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In order to have a successful oyster farm you a channel of the ocean, which is like a small enclosure that still allows the ocean through, with a river running to this body of water (ocean). TAU9885You can either farm oyster via water or beach, living in Juneau we have plenty of open rocky beaches that have rivers running through them. There would be plenty of places to start an operation. The largest producer in Kake Alaska pulls in about $350,000.00 a year in revenue.

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Although that is a lot of money, I feel the lower 48 demand our products much more than that. With a full functioning farm in Juneau you should be able to double the numbers of a Kake oyster farm. There is also an advantage about living in Juneau, we have an international airport that can ship our products directly to states or international customers. Kake Alaska is a very small village south of Juneau about an hour 5-seater aircraft flight. Having to ship the oysters to Juneau alone cost a ton of money. We however will be cutting out this expensive being able to ship through Alaska airlines freight planes. This is a very realistic program to complete with the perfect opportunity to start your own business. Its safe to say I will be checking out Kake Alaska upon my return to the last frontier.

Call to Action: Have you ever had fresh Alaskan Oysters? Please leave your comments below.

 

Year of the Food Truck

Growing up in Alaska it was always slim picking when it came to food and restaurant options. We had our mom and pop restaurants with some fancier restaurants in downtown Juneau for the legislature. Restaurant options were slim and business was good for the restaurant owners who didn’t have to worry about new entrants.

It wasn’t until the 2008 recession that the restaurant scene in Juneau started to change, with the economy on the rocks many entrepreneurs found themselves without jobs and with tons of ideas. Instead of looking for new work with the State of Alaska dtor with the City and Borough of Juneau, people started investing their own money into ventures. Soon a small food shack alley was added to our downtown tourist area, that has some 150,000+ tourist walk through and purchase from a week. From shacks restaurants started to grow, the ones that already existed began to adapt with the times and update their businesses to stay relevant in the market.

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Since 2008 the restaurant industry has been booming, when a liquor license opens up there is a line of people trying to purchase it. This shows the growth Juneau is currently going through and also the potential of the market and its future size. With the growth of restaurants has come the emergence and foundation of food truck. With only two in 2008 Juneau’s food-truck market has grown to 22 different trucks working in multiple locations serving residents and tourists of Juneau.

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The above photo is a picture of a brand new food truck to Juneau called Gla-Scholl Grinds, serving shaved ice treats. Owner Erik Scholl has created shaved ice mixed with ice cream and fruits given unique names as a delicious treat for tourists and residents of Juneau. This is just one example of the many new food trucks opened in Juneau this year.

With the food truck market growing so rapidly, I wonder what effect it will have on the rest of our city with food and restaurants. Maybe by 2016 Juneau will have doubled in restaurants having all these food trucks moving into restaurant locations if they are successful.

Call to Action: What kind of food truck would you expect to find in Alaska? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

 

Tips for Young Entrepreneurs

After reading The Entrepreneurs Blog, I came across an article called 21 tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs. The article discussed a variety of techniques and tips that young entrepreneurs should practice. In this post I will discuss some of the tips I thought were especially interesting and that apply to my own situation. The tips I’m about to discuss all come from famous and successful entrepreneurs and should be taken seriously.

EntrepreneurThe first tip comes from Steve Jobs and its “Do work you love”. This is a tip that most entrepreneurs don’t take seriously. It’s easy to chase the money going venture from venture trying to make your first million. However you will never find true success and won’t be able to maintain your success unless you are doing something you really love. When you are passionate about you work, you really put 110% into everything you do.

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The second tip I liked was from Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, his tip was to “find good people”. If you want to change you need to change who you socialize with and interact with. Also finding good people for your business is very important. You need to find the right fit for the position, don’t just fill positions with random employees who don’t share the same vision as you.

Tip number three comes from Steve Jobs, and its “Do the time”. Meaning success doesn’t come over night, it takes countless hours of work and dedication to your idea. You actually have to work and put some elbow grease to become successful. Steve jobs starts making mac computers in a garage with a couple buddies. They put in the time and effort to get where they are today and it takes even more time and effort to become a leader in your industry.

The last tip I will finish this poSuccessst with is from Walt Disney, and its “Take Action”. You never will become successful talking about it, you need to start now and work hard towards success. You hear plenty of people saying that your ideas are great and that’s usually the last of them. You need to get started, begin the business plan, find a partner, get a mentor do anything that’s working towards your goal.                                    Photo Credit

Call to action: If your an entrepreneur I challenge you to comment your business idea and three steps you need to take to get started with this idea.

Keys to Success

Working many different jobs over the years has brought one very iKeys-to-success-1mportant aspect of work to my attention, training. This is a place most businesses struggle and a portion of business entrepreneurs don’t usually think about. Throwing new employees into the mix and telling them to “figure it out” doesn’t work anymore, and never actually has. Having unprepared employees working hurts not only the company’s image but it also costs the company money and this needs to change.

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Looking over past experience I tried to figure out what factors made training so difficult for me, and why I struggled with learning new tasks. I narrowed it down to a couple of reasons that happened to me; first reason I could think of is that the person training the new employee doesn’t enjoy the task. Have you ever got a new job and when being trained your coworker training you gets frustrated or annoyed with you? They don’t consider the fact that they are basically experts at what they are doing and forget that you haven’t done it at all. This can be demoralizing when trying to get the hang of the flow of the operation. Next reason I considered was that the employee isn’t given sufficient time to be trained. Employers throwing their new hires on the front line doesn’t help anything, it makes the new hire feel overwhelmed and will make them think twice about showing up for their second day of work.

After reading Small business trends blog, I came across an article that give tips for training employees of small businesses. Small business trends article also had a couple of the tips I found especially true and they are listed below:

Tip 1: Use online training courses

After all its 2015, we have come a long way from only using one method to train employees. Online training has been proven to work and is easy to do. Providing your employees with online training course videos you can make sure all the bases are covered and guarantee that each employee is aware of their tasks. This also makes it so no other employee has to spend time training new hires.

Tip 2: Use good employees as trainers

This is the best tip of them all, companies should always use employees who want to train to conduct the training. Like I stated above, its very obvious when an employee doesn’t want to train a new hire, it hurts both the company and the new hire feelings about work. Entrepreneurs should always keep an eye out for employees who are happy and enthusiastic about their jobs as potential trainers.   They will be the ones helping your new employee get to the level of work you wTrainingant.

Tip 3: Set measurable training goals

Setting goals that can measure an employees training is a great idea. For instance setting a goal such as “learn the register by Friday” gives the employee the exact amount of time they have to learn the task, and is an indicator on how quick of a learner they are. Setting goals give the new hire something to work towards rather than giving them time to avoid work or feel lost. With a measuring system you know      exactly where you stand.                                                              Photo Credit: Training

I felt that these tips were especially useful for entrepreneurs and small business owners alike. Training is something executives never really think about and is a part of your business that directly affects profit although you may not know it. Weaker employees don’t make the sales as stronger employee therefore loosing money for the business. However if you follow these tips, you will one step closer to having a perfect business.

Call to Action: What training techniques have helped you learn a new job? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section.