A former regional vice president at UnitedHealth Networks, Jill Foucré, took a cooking class and it changed her life. “I kept thinking about what a happy place it was and how I could have a place like it,” Foucré says. A corporate reorganization eliminated her job a few years later.
She opted to turn down a new position and walked away with a nice severance package. “That gave me the chance to try my own business,” she says. Foucré promised her husband, Bob, that she’d have a realistic business plan within six months.
Selena Einwechter was the victim of a corporate reorganization in 2007 when she was working as a deputy director at GTECH. When she learned change was coming, she made plans, saved money, attended trade conferences, wrote a business plan, worked as an inn sitter, spoke to friends about investing in her business idea, and enlisted a real estate agent to find a location. “I thought I’d have more security if I built the inn while employed,” she says. When her company handed her a seven-month severance package, she accelerated her search and secured a six-acre spot.
The most recent The Small Business Poll, conducted by National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) revealed some key issues important to small business. The Growth – External Factors report found that, in the face of a changing economy, small business had a desire to grow, but modestly and in absolute terms. Concerns over weak sales, an uncertain economy, securing appropriate staff, and locating either strong management or an advisory team were of key concerns to small business.
Most of the small business owners surveyed also reported feeling that lagging market demand impeded their growth plan and they responded by changing their marketing plan by introducing a new product, service, or process that had recently been created, modified, or refined. Most small businesses who viewed a lack of funding as an impediment said they planned, when and as able, to internally generate cash flows, seeing this as a key source of internal financing.
Foucré took a long love of cooking and turned that into a career, using what she had learned in the corporate world to make her plan work. Marcel’s Culinary Experience opened September 2011 and uses a website, social media, and community involvement. The cooking school made $1.1 million in sales last year.
Einwechter long dreamed of owning a B&B and, when her circumstances began to change, she shifted her focus, conducted robust research and, after being turned down by three banks, secured financing from a local institution with an innkeeper on its board. Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill opened for business in June 2009 and has seen increasing revenue ever since. Einwechter maximizes word of mouth, keeps her B&B listed in area directories, and stocks local tourism centers with her advertising. Since opening, she has turned profits into additional suites.
In both cases, internally generated cash flows built on a business idea and helped solidify strong business plans. And, in both cases, the business owners secured their internal investments, investors, and key advisors during their planning and early stages. Both women have made key advisors a part of their business.
Hyatt, Josh. CNN Money/Money Magazine; “The Recipe for a Million-Dollar Cooking School.” 4/30/13.
Hyatt, Josh. CNN Money/Money Magazine; “Suite Dreams: Opening A Bed and Breakfast.” 12/5/12.
National Federation of Independent Business. The National Small Business Poll; “Growth – External Factors” report. 11/22/11.