Back in 2006, Patricia Spencer was a soccer mom and a frustrated entrepreneur. Her plan to create and sell an all-in-one kitchen mixer had stalled out because everyone confused her product with a blender. Standing on the sidelines of a game one typical Saturday, Patricia explained her frustration to Michael Edell, a fellow soccer dad. When he asked about her plan B, Patricia mentioned an idea she’d had years before: She wanted to create an effective, non-toxic, eco-friendly laundry detergent. Michael was intrigued. The next day, Patricia arrived at his office with a presentation about the market potential of a natural, safe detergent. They soon decided to work together, and Patricia, a self-described “closet chemist,” set to work to create her dream product. After a year of nonstop testing, she hit on the formula for making the first pod-based detergent in the homecare industry. Grab Green had officially shifted from concept to company, and Patricia couldn’t wait to introduce the world to her new products. Patricia tells us about starting, running and growing Grab Green and explains why she’s passionate about making “clean” products available to everybody -- and their pets.
Nick and Lena Kosovich have been dancing since they were kids growing up in Australia and Siberia respectively. After meeting on the dance circuit, the couple competed together for 15 years while also building their stellar reputation as competitive-dance instructors, choreographers, teacher-trainers and highly esteemed industry consultants. Nearly two decades ago, when Nick and Lena were living in New York, they started designing and selling one or two dance costumes a month to help pay for their travel expenses. Word spread about their custom-made, rhinestone-bedazzled dresses that were also highly functional and comfortable. Realizing there was great demand for their designs, Nick and Lena launched LeNique so competitive ballroom and Latin dancers, as well as ice-skaters and other performers, could look and feel great in the spotlight. When the couple relocated to California in 2005, it only took them a month to ramp up to their New York-level of sales. Now, LeNique has 24 full-time and part-time employees including sales reps on both coasts and a team of professional tailors and seamstresses who make up to 50 new costumes every week. We talked with Nick about the company’s shiny, sparkly success.
Like so many great business ideas, the epiphany for Water Rover hit during a walk. Specifically, Stan and Ruth Greenberg were strolling one hot August evening in southern California with their dog, Black Bear. Along the way, they offered Black Bear water from a bottle, but he kept refusing to drink. By the time the pooch decided he was thirsty, Stan and Ruth had used up all the water. Stan, a retired engineer, decided there had to be a better way to keep dogs from dehydrating. He made some sketches for a bowl-and-bottle prototype and showed them to his son, Scott. Scott made a key suggestion – make the corners of the bowl round, not square! – and a product was born. For several years, Water Rover was manufactured in Thailand. Flash forward to today, when Scott is the now the proud owner of the company, and Water Rover is made in the United States. That’s just one more reason animal lovers rave about this clever invention which gives them a hands-free way to carry water for their furry companions and to pour unused water back into the bottle. Multiple problems solved!
It’s no exaggeration to say that Kathy (Dvoracek) Trumbo and her brothers, Frank and Joe, have been immersed in the injection molding business pretty much since birth. Their dad started his own custom molding company in his garage in the 60s, and Kathy and her siblings – also known as the “Three Ds” – earned pocket money by separating boxes of parts. (Fun fact: When the plastic skateboard craze hit its heyday in the 70s, the company made 30 million urethane wheels and 7 million boards!). As adults, Kathy, Frank and Joe decided to start their own injection molding company, just down the street from their dad’s operation.
The Three Ds designed and produced everything from landscape drainage lines to a popular plastic folding sawhorse until forming the Three D Traffic Works division in 1999. Now, Kathy and the team create a proprietary line of traffic-safety products for the highway industry. They proudly use recycled materials and green manufacturing techniques. This approach, as well as an unwavering commitment to innovation and quality, has helped Three D Traffic Works survive industry and economic downturns. Today, with an impressive 55 employees, Three D is the go-to manufacturer for top-notch, eco-friendly traffic-safety products.
If your business booms during the holiday shopping season, you’ve no doubt been getting ready for your busiest months for weeks, if not longer. We asked eight hard-working entrepreneurs to tell us what they are doing right now to gear up for the holiday crush ahead. In a word: They’re on it!
(By the way, all of these business owners will be selling their wares at QB Connect 2018 in San Jose (November 5-7th). If you’re there, be sure to stop by and say hi! (Want to attend QB Connect but haven’t registered yet? Click here.)
You probably know that QuickBooks Connect is an exciting, inspiring conference packed with entrepreneurs eager to learn about growing a successful business. And you know what makes QB Connect even better? All the amazing shopping opportunities that let you support small businesses -- and cross some items off you holiday gift list!
QuickBooks Connect 2018in San Jose, CA (November 5-7) will play host to some superstar entrepreneurs at the Connect Bazaar. Stop by their booths and support your fellow small-business owners who will be selling their goods during the conference. Each of these smart, motivated entrepreneurs has a fascinating small business story to share. See for yourself in the profiles below.
Built Oregon has shone the spotlight on many of Oregon’s small consumer-product businesses (think: chocolate, kombucha, beer, coffee, hot sauce, jewelry and more) by offering an accelerator program and an annual festival. Another key promotional event is Little Boxes, a three-day, post-Thanksgiving shopping scavenger hunt where shoppers collect codes by visiting and purchasing from participating (small, of course) retailers. Then they enter the codes in the Little Boxes app for a chance to win prizes.
We spoke with Mitch Daugherty about why shopping local really matters and how he and Terry take an entrepreneurial approach to running their nonprofit: They learn what their target market wants and needs and then provide it.
At some point, small business owners will have to navigate a sticky customer service situation due to a missed delivery date, a broken item or some other shipping-related snafu. How you handle it can make or break your business reputation, especially during the high-pressure, high volume holiday shopping season.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). You may not be able to fend off technically savvy and extremely determined hackers, but you can certainly take small but meaningful steps to batten down all your cyber security hatches.
During the crazy holiday season, it’s easy to prioritize your business over well, everything. We’re here to remind you that losing sleep, eating poorly, staying Superglued to a screen or otherwise connected to your work 24/7 is not in your best interest. Remember, when your mental, physical and emotional health suffers, so, too, does your business.
What’s not to love about a national observance dedicated to making someone else feel good? It doesn’t take much to show your appreciation for another person, whether it’s a friend, a family member, a fellow entrepreneur or even a stranger.
In September we got inside your head! We explored how entrepreneurs, small business owners and freelance workers approach all things business, from creatively solving problems and staying motivated 24/7 to turning an epiphany into action and an idea into a product. Read on -- and be prepared to be impressed.
The leaves may be just starting to turn golden, but Halloween costumes, candy and decorations have been front and center on shelves and in storefronts for weeks now. It won’t be long before Thanksgiving décor is added to the seasonal display. With the holiday season racing our way, let’s find out how some entrepreneurs are prepping today for their busiest time of year.
Launching and running your own business requires continuous self-education, as rising challenges demand creative solutions that may bump up against the limits of your knowledge and expertise. What's one new thing you've learned recently that has helped you solve a thorny problem or take your business to the next level?
Yep, National Get Organized Week really is a thing. If you’re feeling scattered, distracted or just tired of frantically juggling a million different tasks, maybe this is the perfect week to up your organizational game.
For many of us, 'tis the season to start thinking about holiday retail. And for others, 'tis the season to hire seasonal workers (or make more permanent hires before the holiday crazy), wrap up loose ends on projects (before the holiday crazy), or get busy making plans for workflow/inventory/purchasing/sales & promotions/customer and client appreciation...before the holiday crazy. Am I sensing a theme here?
Sometimes we think we should rename QB Community “Epiphanies R Us!” As countless community members have told us, you just never know when an idea will pop into your head and BOOM! A seed of an idea grows and blossoms into a successful business. Of course, that flash of inspiration is just the first tiny step on any entrepreneurial journey – but without it, you might not be taking a journey at all.
We hear all the time in this community about the mindset that helps entrepreneurs succeed in business. One thing is clear: Working for yourself means thinking differently about every aspect of, well, “work” – what it means to you (everything), when you do it (always), when you put it aside (rarely). Below are some of the insights you’ve shared. Do you recognize yourself in any of these hard-working entrepreneurs? Of course, you do!
Technically speaking, doing research and development or R&D means officially allocating time and resources to a team of inventors or product manufacturers who think of and develop product ideas. This crack team will make prototypes and conduct formal trials with prospective customers to see if a product will fly. If this sounds like it’s well beyond the scope of your budget and resources (both financial and human), you might be right.
You Asked & Community Answered: What Fees Should I Charge for Bookkeeping Services?
You have questions about running a small business, and our QB Community members have answers! Everyone here knows the importance of building meaningful member-to-member relationships, and there’s no better way to learn, discover and get inspired as an entrepreneur. Best of all? When members share what they know, everyone benefits. Check out this recent QB Community conversation, and you’ll see what we mean!
All small businesses have a couple of things in common. First, they’re run by a dedicated, determined, passionate entrepreneur. Second, each one of those inspiring self-employed folks had an idea for a product (or a service) and figured how to transform it into something they could sell. We know – and you do, too -- the process of turning an epiphany into a business is never easy. Here’s how some folks in QB Community have managed to do it.