"The best part about [the SBDC] was the information I received. It helped me to realize there is more to running a business than just opening the doors. Learning about marketing and financial management gave me the bigger picture I needed to run a successful business.”
Imagine how frightening it must be to start a business in the midst of some of the most challenging economic conditions our nation has ever faced. Few people have the intestinal fortitude to take on such a challenge. Yet that is exactly what entrepreneurs do and what Jody McGee has done in Willits, CA. Utilizing assistance received from Mendocino Small Business Development Center, in the form of free business advising Jody has overcome several obstacles to realize his dream of business ownership.
One-Stop Detail is an auto detailing business that specializes in automobile, truck, and construction equipment interior and exterior detailing. Forced out of work due to recent economic conditions and seeking new employment, Jody first came to West Company through a referral from the local One-Stop Employment Development Center, Mendocino Works in Ukiah, CA. For as long as he can remember, Jody had dreamed of being his own boss but was unsure how to go about starting a business. With limited resources, poor credit history, and now unemployed, he was very concerned about how he could secure funding to start any kind of business. Having previous experience with auto-detailing, Jody felt this was a service he might be able to turn into a business with a minimal investment.
In addition to the previously mentioned challenge of funding, Jody had very little to no experience starting or running a business. It was recommended by his SBDC advisor that he attend West Company’s Building a Better Business workshop series to begin acquiring the skills he would need to make his business a success. Jody says he learned a lot in those classes especially about marketing and financial management. In addition, Jody and his intended partner began to attend weekly one-on-one advising sessions with his assigned consultant. Due to previous life challenges, Jody shared concern for his past credit history and inquired as to how this would impact his chances of securing funding. His Consultant stressed the importance of a good business plan and how such a plan can help secure funding even if from unconventional sources. As things progressed, Jody’s partner’s job demanded more and more time causing him to back away from the process. Jody was not deterred by this change of plans. He diligently followed the advisor’s guidance and consistently completed his assignments.
Jody had little knowledge about how to go about writing a business plan when he came to West Company but the combination of workshops and one-on-one consulting helped him learn what he needed to know to create a sound plan. Jody reached a point in the process where he needed more specific expertise from the SBDC and was referred to the Loyd Hambrick for continued assistance. Loyd and Jody began to focus on the start-up and operating costs and how the business could be started on a shoe-string budget. Initially, he began with a very large dream that included construction of a new building to facilitate not only the detailing operations but also auto repair facilities. In the course of investigating start-up costs, creating financial projections, and then the loss of his potential partner, Jody exhibited true entrepreneurship by seeking solutions and revising his vision to focus on offering detailing services exclusively.
One of many outcomes was the creation of a personal budgeting system allowing Jody to continue to meet personal and previous debt obligations. Jody became more and more excited as Loyd led him through the process and encouraged him to stay the course and never give up. Loyd says, “I will never forget Jody’s excitement (and mine) the day he reported he had secured a promise from a friend for a small personal loan of $2,000.00 to get his business going. It is very gratifying to be a part of such powerful results.” After Jody had reached a comfort level with the financial aspects of his business, consulting sessions began to address ensuring sufficient markets existed for business start-up and continued revenue streams.
With continued support and encouragement from his Consultant, Jody continued to stretch outside his comfort zone and began to approach individuals about his new business. At his Consultant’s direction, Jody kept a record of all the people he spoke with, their interest levels, and contact information. After securing a “book” of business he was comfortable with and identifying a suitable location, Jody negotiated a lease, purchased supplies and equipment, and opened his business. Once the business was in operation, Jody used the list of people he composed to contact interested parties and schedule jobs. Currently, One-Stop Detail continues to grow and has reached a point where Jody is struggling to keep up with the workload. He and his previous potential partner are revisiting the possibility of expanding the business by the creation of a partnership. They are seeking further SBDC guidance to help with related issues.