Small Business Story: Naked Feet Yoga Faces Risks in Niche Market

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Christen McLaughlin, Suffolk University 

Small Business: Naked Feet Yoga

Naked Feet Yoga

My favorite local business is a yoga studio called Naked Feet Yoga. I was never interested in yoga until I started regularly attending this yoga studio. I started taking yoga classes when I was trying to work on my physical fitness and thought some classes would be a great way to increase my core strength and stamina and would be a lot more interesting than just a regular gym work out. Once I started attending these classes I realized how much I love yoga and it improved not only my physical health but my mental health and emotional well-being.

Are you an Aspiring Entrepreneur? Here Some Tips from Small Business Experts

CDC-small-business-finance                                                                                     

 

Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs from Small Business Experts

Q&A with Susan Lamping, VP of Sales, and Chuck Sinks, Senior Business Advisor at CDC Small Business Finance, a nonprofit small business lender.

Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur. According to Chuck Sinks, of CDC Small Business Finance, we should all have “tremendous respect for the risk, sacrifice, uncertainty, stress and the ‘make or break/ it’s all on the line’ decision-making entrepreneurs engage in.”

We spoke with Susan Lamping, Vice President of Sales at CDC, and Chuck Sinks, Senior Business Advisor, about the difficulties that entrepreneurs have to overcome when they are starting a business.

Why It’s Hard to Meet Lender Requirements

One of the first challenges that entrepreneurs have to face is getting access to capital. Lamping shared with us the most common reasons entrepreneurs fall short of meeting lender requirements. Typically, she says these are due to cash flow, credit or length of time in business. She explains that “lenders often want to see that entrepreneurs have enough cash flow to meet their existing business and personal obligations as well as the new debt service, and still have a small cushion left over,” which is something that many businesses don’t have. Another deterrent to access to capital is credit, since “many of the larger banking institutions are seeking credit scores upwards of 680 with no or minimal blemishes from the past.” It is also challenging for start-ups to get financing since a lot of lenders want to see at least two years in business, and some will not consider start-ups at all.

Solving Early Challenges

Chuck Sinks has been around small businesses his whole life, “involved in one way or another with the start-up’s, owning, operating, purchasing, turning-around, and selling.” He started working at CDC Small Business Finance in 2010 and says advising at-risk small businesses during the recession was “incredibly rewarding.” He typically approaches challenges by figuring out whether the business decision at hand is going to “make money, save money or save time.” This approach allows him to narrow down the options quickly and start solving the problem. He says that “it’s not always easy, and we don’t bat 1000…but if we stay at it, working with the business owner, we can usually get to a satisfactory or better outcome.”

One of the early challenges that Sinks sees in a lot of small business is bookkeeping. He says, “good, reliable bookkeeping seems to be a shortfall for many small early stage business owners. Reliable operating financial statements help business owners make fiscally sound tactical decisions day in and day out.”

Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

We asked Sinks what he thinks aspiring entrepreneurs need to understand about the risks associated with starting a business, and he gave us a list of 7 things entrepreneurs should consider.

  1. Ask yourself “can I tolerate the risk for the reward or outcome I’m after” before you take the plunge into business ownership- there could be a heavy price for overestimating one’s tolerance for risk
  2. Write a well-thought business plan, including candid financial projections and market analysis- it’s magic when you write things down
  3. Have sufficient capital
  4. Be optimistic— “a ‘no’ from a potential customer today means you are now one ‘no’ closer to a ‘yes’ from a customer tomorrow”
  5. Be flexible; if the market is telling you to change; listen, confirm and act
  6. You will lose a little stomach lining along the way, make sure you have plenty when you get started
  7. Remember where you came from; give back, help out and share what you have learned

Evaluating Alternatives for Small Business Debt Capital

Sinks told us about a simple graph that CDC has developed to evaluate the various alternatives for small business debt capital. In this graph, the X axis is Effort and the Y axis is Cost, and they are inversely correlated. He explains that Small Business Administration (SBA) loans involve effort, but have a low cost of capital for early stage small businesses. On the other hand, Merchant Cash Advances (MCA), which is when a small business’s credit card service vendor makes a cash advance to the business and takes a percentage of the daily credit card swipes, is very easy to get but the cost of capital is very high. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – often upwards of 30% – is usually “very opaque or just not disclosed by the MCA lender.” So, Sinks recommends always making the effort to secure low cost debt capital.

 

Small Business Story: Cantler’s Riverside Inn Faces Risks During the Off-Season

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Heather Tinsley, Technical College of the Lowcountry

Small Business: Cantler’s Riverside Inn

Cantler's Riverside Inn

A favorite local business back home for me would be a restaurant that sits on the river and serves a local favorite, steamed crabs. They make everything from scratch and even catch and steam the crabs in house. Some risks they may face would be location and weather, seeing as the restaurant is situated on the water where many customers ride in by boat. Depending on how the weather is outside can seriously affect their business, since the majority of people going to this restaurant want to sit out on the deck and pick crabs, and do not want to do this in the cold or rain. This can also affect their crab catch for the day, especially when it is winter and no longer crab season.  To fix the risk of having winter interfere with the amount of crabs they serve, they outsource and get crabs from Louisiana in the off-season. The crabs from home are better, but crab-catching season has to end to help replenish the crabs for the next summer.

Small Business Story: Aaron Law Firm Describes Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Small Business

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Jackson Aaron, SUNY Plattsburgh

Small Business: Aaron Law Firm

Aaron Law Firm

A local business has always been at the forefront in my life. Since a young age, my father has owned his Law Firm. He has been in practice since the early 2000s since earning his Doctorate in Law in 1997. He handles mainly criminal defense work, but he also does Wills/POA’s, small business law, and typical lawsuit works. I have seen him struggle and strive while being at the helm. Being a small business owner has its perks. He makes his hours, decides how much he gets paid, and receives different tax exemptions because of it. He also works with other small businesses around our community providing legal work like contracts, incorporation, or even litigation. Along with being a part of the Alabaster Industrial Development Board, he uses his small business status to not only benefit and promote himself but other small businesses as well as our city.

Small Business Story: Beaverton Dance Center Overcomes Risks Following Rebranding

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Avery Turner, University of Oregon

Small Business: Beaverton Dance Center

Beaverton Dance Center

Beaverton Dance Center is a locally owned and operated dance studio at which I have been a student for twelve years. In the dance world, reputation is everything. Since my studio changed ownership six years ago, there has been a concerted effort to rebrand it. The previous owners were the Billings family and they had named the studio Billings Dance Center. They ran the studio as primarily a recreational facility with very little emphasis on competition. This was perfect for many young dancers like myself at the time who were just interested in learning and getting good exercise. However, this created a reputation in the dance community for the studio that was not in line with the vision of the new owner when he took over in 2011. The new owner just so happened to be my neighbor and a current faculty member.

Small Business Story: Volo Sportsplex Manages Seasonality of Demand and Other Risks

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Madeline Maze, Northern Illinois University

Small Business: Volo Sportsplex 

Volo SportsplexToday I will be talking about a family owned business where I work. The business’s name is “Volo Sportsplex” and it is a sports complex located in a small town about one hour and thirty minutes north of Chicago. In this facility there is one main gym that has one regulation sized futsal field, two regulation sized volleyball courts, one regulation sized basketball court, two regulation sized pickle ball courts, two drop down batting cages, six drop down basketball hoops, and a drop down curtain to divide the gym in half. There is also a concession stand located in the gym. There are two restrooms located in the lobby. Upstairs at the Volo Sportsplex is a sitting area with a TV and a vending machine for drinks, a dance studio with mirrors surrounding the walls, and a multi-purpose room with a sink, microwave, and fridge. This sportsplex is managed by one manager and has four hourly employees who clean the facility and help the programs and registration run smoothly. It is such a nice and clean facility and is great for the area because there are no other sports complexes. Although this is my favorite local business, it does face many problems.

Small Business Story: Heirloom Food Company’s Success Shows Growing Interest in Healthy Eating

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Taylor Copeland, Quinebaug Valley Community College

Small Business: Heirloom Food Company

Heirloom Food Company

In the borough of Danielson in the small town of Killingly, tucked away in what’s known as the Quiet Corner of Connecticut, there is a little gem of a café called Heirloom Food Company. A locally owned establishment, it’s been in operation since 2012 and offers a variety of healthy options for both eat-in and take-out diners. Their menu of juices, smoothies, espresso drinks, breakfast items, sandwiches, veggie burgers, soups, and desserts is mostly vegetarian, with the option of making nearly every dish vegan, and they serve organic, locally-sourced food whenever possible. Bread is purchased from a bakery in Hartford, and during the growing season, local farmers deliver fresh produce weekly. Most of their menu is made in-house, from scratch, with a focus on creating healthy, delicious, and sustainable options and a willingness to accommodate food allergies, severe and otherwise. Located on Route 12, Heirloom Food Company is set up in a remodeled home, and this—along with the mismatched furniture in the dining area (some of it handmade) and the abstract art on the walls—gives it a uniquely hip yet cozy, small-town vibe.

Small Business Story: Road Runner Sports Relies on Customer Experience

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Noah Bloomberg, Baruch College

Small Business: Road Runner Sports

Road Runner SportsI have always loved running. It provides freedom, time to think, an endorphin rush, and a way to decompress. Running isn’t just an activity for me though; it’s a culture. No one place on the planet has provided a home for the running culture I identify so strongly with more than Road Runner Sports. Located just 15 minutes from my house, Road Runner sports is a running specialty store that caters to runners of all ages and skill levels. I started shopping there when I was 15, started working their when I was 18, and still pop in every now and again as a 20-year- old college sophomore when I need some new equipment.

Small Business Story: Bert’s Diner Builds Relationships with Customers

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Justin Ellis, CSU Sacramento

Small Business: Bert’s Diner

Bert's DinerOwning a small business is becoming a more difficult dream each and every day. Many entrepreneurs are scared to even try their hand in the business world because of the failed attempts they see everyday. However despite these risks, some small business owners defy the odds and risk it all to make their dreams come true. This is true for Bert’s Diner, a local 50’s themed diner in Elk Grove. Every Monday, they offer a ½ off burger special, and every Monday for the past 4 years my friends and I have made sure to be there at the bar eating our burgers and fries.

Small Business Story: Sweet Hut Differentiates Itself by Providing Affordable Food and a Place to Work

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Pui Tam, Kennesaw State University

Small Business: Sweet Hut Bakery and Cafe

Sweet Hut Bakery and Cafe

My favorite local business is Sweet Hut Bakery and Café, which is an Asian bakery and café that opened four years ago in 2013 in Doraville, Georgia. The Sweet Hut Bakery and Café brand had never existed in Georgia before, so they had to make their brand well known, which was a risk. They had to rely on social media marketing, word of mouth, and local advertising.