October’s Entrepreneur Night at Channelside, one of Palm Coast’s most appealing new venues, showcased many of the skilled and enthusiastic people we’re fortunate to have in our midst. If you’re a budding Entrepreneur, these are real people you can actually know, relate to, and get inspired by. These are people you have an opportunity to learn from or maybe even guide.
As we do each month, we’d like to highlight a few of the special personalities we’ve come to know from within our entrepreneurial subculture.
McCann, a nurse at Flagler Hospital, is currently in the ideation stages of starting a party-planning business. It was her first time at Entrepreneur Night.
How are you setting up for success?
As of now, I am trying to gather as much information about different vendors within Palm Coast, and elsewhere, as I can. I have been really trying to get my name out there, which is one of the reasons I decided to attend tonight’s Entrepreneur night. I am really trying to a make a name for myself, and what’s a better place to start than this event. At the current moment, I do not have any literature to distribute but, once I get myself up and running, expect there to be lots! Now, I am trying to create all of the essential things that every business needs–such as a name, website, choosing vendors, etc. After a lot of research, I feel that corporate events will likely be the area that I will be serving most. Other events, similar to Entrepreneur Night and even weddings, are also of interest. I hope to develop many relationships here.
Why did you decide to pursue your goal now?
I have been planning parties for about two decades. I have twins that are now 20 years old. When they were younger, I would host these spectacular parties – I was the “Mom on the block!” The people who really know me will confirm this. I’ve always thought this would be an awesome career for me to pursue. Many years ago, I used to own a balloon delivery business – my boys were still in elementary school. It was a great experience, but it was short lived. I could not make the deliveries all the time due to work, but I learned from the difficulties that I faced and I look to run a functional business. This business would fit my schedule – I would be able to meet with people at nonconventional times, like weekends or at nights. In the end, I decided to just go for it because I may never have the chance to take this up again.
How do you plan to breakthrough?
Not to sound cliché, but hard work is very important. I want to know that I put everything into this business and that I did everything I could to improve it on a daily basis. Also, I think that being personable and giving people your undivided attention is of the utmost importance. Your customers have to know you value their business. Furthermore, being punctual – being on top of things – and providing good customer service is crucial. Especially in the industry that I want to go into, having good customer reviews is absolutely critical. My future customers should expect to get the best from me at all times.
Coming to an event like Entrepreneur night has really helped me. I have met so many people and they seem so willing to connect. It’s not a hostile environment – it is truly a place where entrepreneurs of all kinds, at any stage of their journey, can come together in order to network… and have a good time.
Melissa Chipps, an Entrepreneur Night regular, started her business WingWomen4Hire in just the last year. She’s one of the original attendees from five years ago.
What do you do?
I operate a business called WingWoman4Hire. In a nutshell, I help small businesses with social media, constructing websites, putting together business plans, and other activities along these lines. To begin with, I first attended Entrepreneur Night because of my relationship with Ky and Lisa Ekinci (the Entrepreneur Night founders). We were part of Startup Quest and ever since those first encounters I’ve been coming.
How did you become involved in Startup Quest?
Startup Quest is a program that is operated by CareerSource. It is a ten-week program in which they put entrepreneurs and Startup business-minded people together. They’re given a patent to work on. You then take this patented product that has been dormant and you get a group together that tries to make it marketable. Long story short, we were successful in our presentation but the business plan did not fare as well. It was a great learning experience – one that I still cherish to this day. Today I come to almost all of the events because they are really important to me and the community.
How did you move from Startup Quest to owning your own business?
It was definitely a stepping stone. From Startup Quest, I made lots of connections with people who are well established in the Entrepreneur world. From these connections, I started to work for people and over that period of time I started my company. I saw a need in Flagler County to help small businesses and I was very passionate about that. This gives me much more joy than my last job: I was a store manager for Walmart. I traveled all around the United States and opened up stores. I worked long hours and was away from home for long periods of time. Being a manager for a big corporation like Walmart is fascinating, but I found that becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business was the right choice for me.
Have you been faced with any challenges? How did you overcome them?
All businesses face challenges, but every challenge is unique. The biggest challenge that I had to deal with is resistance to change. This is especially true in small communities. For example, I worked with a local author. He retired from his former occupation and decided he wanted to write books because that is something that he really enjoys. However, he did not want to put himself out there or go on book tours. Being the coach, I had to look for ways to solve these problems. So I really helped expose him to a plethora of online possibilites. Today he is selling books all over the world and has generated a very impressive fan club. Memories like these remind me that I am helping to make a difference in the lives of others. That makes me very proud.
Jason Williams works for ADP and owns his own yoga studio with his wife. It was his first time attending Entrepreneur Night.
What do you do?
I work for ADP as a district manager in business sales. I aide small businesses with their payroll and other ‘fun stuff.’ Working as a manager is my main job, but, in addition to that, my wife and I also own our own yoga studio in New Smyrna Beach. It’s called All Yoga.
I am also basically the manager there also. I deal mainly with basic operations. We actually had no intentions of starting this business until about two weeks to the day that we bought it. It was an amazing turn of events and an amazing investment.
I am not the yoga specialist, my wife is. We work well together with our different specialties and we have made many advances together. She is doing a phenomenal job and the business is going well. We have almost doubled the revenue in the time we’ve been open. Because of that, we were able to make our studio into something that represents us and represents how we value each individual who comes in. How often does anyone spend 70 to 90 minutes on themselves? We are trying to get people to do more of that.
How do you incorporate your personality into your business?
We want our customers to know that they could spend intimate time with themselves in a fun, vibrant and safe space. We do not want our studio to be overwhelming because that is not what yoga is about – it’s about you. You get on that yoga mat and nothing else in the entire universe matters. It’s really a special time during someone’s day, so we want to make sure that we honor that and make it as comfortable as possible for everyone.
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
Seeing your vision become a reality. Being an entrepreneur takes great dedication and hard work. There will be hard times and then there will be very good times. The good times are worth it…
Entrepreneur Night is a grassroots event for and by Entrepreneurs, which takes place the last Tuesday of each month – except July, August, and December–at a different location and venue. It is free to attend. Complimentary appetizers are provided by the hosting venue and there’s a cash bar, as well. In each event you can expect to meet many new entrepreneurs, investors and service providers; and have meaningful conversations. You can check out the previous Entrepreneur Night events or RSVP to the Next Entrepreneur Night Event