Courtney Barnette sits down with us to talk about starting a business pulling from your experience as an employee.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
CommXperts.com is an electronic product distributor in Orlando, FL that specializes in bring new productivity gadgets to SMB and Enterprises. We started operations in 2007.
How did you come up with your business idea?
Working in the wireless/electronic industry for many years, I had the opportunity to see many unique products come to market. One major issue was that large distributors or enterprises wanted these products for their use, but had NO quarries about manipulating a company's financials or business plan for their use. Many entrepreneurs had very successful products and dreams dashed because their product didn't meet the proper channel for distribution and sales.
Our idea, on the other hand, was to help these entrepreneurs launch, market, campaign, cross sell and move these products into channels we already know and have established. We help the entrepreneur focus on one less thing that we specialize in, and help each of their products succeed in a congested product world.
Did you have a partner when you started your business?
Yes, I have a partner within the business. His specialty is Operations and Organization, as where I handle Sales and Marketing efforts of the business. This serves as a great "checks and balances" area for our business. Something that I am sure we can sell and incorporate into the business plan, doesn't always work on paper and profitability. Therefore, it is great to have someone say "NO" and to be able to accept their answer. Stay focused on your core business, but don't be afraid to try new things or possibly sway a bit from the original plan.
So you did write a business plan. Was it an effective tool for you?
We have strayed away from it many times. However, we took a step back many times and looked at a "core outline" instead. I personally think a business plan is an effective tool, only if you follow it and review it after it is written.
My business partner and I created a "core outline" for success. We focused on areas, we believed in, or had specialized experience in. Once we conducted this plan, we were able to write the business plan that focused on these points within the outline. Therefore, the business plan could always change but our core focus items didn't.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Focus on existing customers. If your business is committed to serving your current customers' needs, that is why your already satisfied customers become your best salespeople. We have utilized the proper honest, truthful and hard-working approach -- focusing on what our customer needs, and paying attention to their issues or concerns. Once we start to establish the relationship with our current clients, launching future products will be considered, due to past positive experiences.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Find something you are familiar with, study and perfect the business. Find ways to help others in ways that current companies are not excelling in. Maybe niche products or even "The Best Customer Service" in the world. If this is something you are familiar with, it should come easy if you love what you're doing.
Thanks for your time and advice, Courtney.