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Bootstrapping Your Brand in a Brand New Year

Develop the brand of your dreams: top tips for the many budding entrepreneurs who have made this their 2017 New Year’s resolution.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
SPONSORED 2:14PM 01/27/17

Studies show that 10 percent of Americans re-evaluate their professional plan at the start of the new year and change their course to take on business ownership. With 2017 in full swing, this means that there are millions of hopeful entrepreneurs out there right now just waiting for a new chapter to unfold.

Hopeful entrepreneurs often hold off, fearing the unknown. This has likely the next great idea unexplored. So, before fear destroys yet another up-and-coming concept, it is important to look to examples of entrepreneurs who bootstrapped their brand to success. We asked a few successful business owners for their top tips to help inspire others.

1. Do your research

When brothers Jason and Steven Parker began walking dogs in high school to prove to their mother that they were responsible enough to have a pooch of their own, they never imagined that it would inspire a lifelong business venture. The founders of what is now K-9 Resorts sold this dog walking business for six figures and set out to start a luxury daycare and resort for four legged friends. The franchise has since grown exponentially with the help of motivated franchises and an investment from a venture capital firm.

“The best step we took that I would tell others is to research independently and in the field. We researched the best dog hotels in the business and traveled all over the country to visit them. We networked, spoke with pet professionals, and hired the best consultants in the business,” Jason Parker said. “This is advice we give to our franchisees to this day. Research how many pet boutiques, vets and groomers are in the area and get to know the market.”

2. Network face to face

Known for his energizer bunny work ethic and fierce ambition, GYMGUYZ founder and CEO Josh York started his mobile fitness concept from his dining room table at home. However, York did not stay at home for long, and he credits the start of this rapid success to face to face networking with potential clients and industry influencers.

“Once you have your plan, get out there and network. No matter how creative your concept is, you have to be even more creative about the way you get in front of people,” York said. “It all comes down to building relationships. I got out there right away. I barely slept. And it paid off.”

3. Pace your spending

As the Parkers prepared to design and build out the first K-9 Resorts location in 2005, they could hardly wait to make their vision come to life. As excited as they were, the brothers took a long term outlook and remembered the importance of not allocating all of their funds in one place right away--something that Jason advises hopeful entrepreneurs do as well.

“We knew we wanted the high quality materials and did have the funds as teenagers to outfit the entire first facility right away. We also knew that we did not want to take on too much debt from the start. So, we began by just remodeling 30 percent. Then, we would remodel another 10percent, then another 15 percent. We were fully remodeled by 2007,” Jason said.

Parker added, “I am definitely happy with the way it turned out. This is something I would advise others--be motivated, but also remember to let the business grow naturally while still figuring out the systems and procedures without all of the debt that can come from jumping in too quickly.”

4. Make the most of what you have

Tools like marketing materials and branded items are helpful in generating brand awareness for any young business. However, both Parker and York noted that they did not allocate much funding to such luxuries from the get-go, and that they saved them for what they really needed.

“Be sure to stick to the basics and save wherever you can. Sit down and determine the bare minimum you can spend and stay true to it,” York said. “I only had a single GYMGUYZ shirt that I would wear while networking every day and then would go home and wash every night. Sure, it would have been great to have seven or eight shirts but I saved every single penny to keep expanding.”

5. Divide and conquer

Jason explained that if you are lucky enough to not be on this journey alone and have a business partner, use each of your skills to your advantage. Start with this common goal and then determine how each of you can go out and make it happen, independently. The Parkers used this same tactic in the initial stages of brand development, and still do so to this day.

“We both have our own strengths and weaknesses. I was able to channel my passions and strengths when taking on my set of responsibilities, and he was able to do the same,” Jason said. “We divided and conquered, and you truly have to be equally as independent and strong willed as you would if you were in this alone.”