News From the Louisville SBDC

the secret of my success…

Passion + Planning = One Great Business Start

by Toni Sears
“It’s all about restoring lives. That’s why I do this.” Sandra Ramsey, owner of Great Crowns and Smiles Dental Lab, LLC, says while happily showing me a newly created dental crown. “I believe that restoring a smile will transform a life. “
Sandra might be right. According to the American Dental Association: (source: Why Some Millennials Aren’t Smiling: Bad Teeth Hinder 28% In Job Search,, March 28, 2017)
  • Approximately one in five young adults (ages 18 to 34) cut back on socializing because of dental problems. 
  • 28% of this same age group report that the appearance of their teeth and mouth undermines their ability to interview for a job. 
  • Some 38% of this age group feel that life in general is “less satisfying” due to teeth and mouth problems.
Armed with passion and knowledge about the dental lab industry, Sandra opened Great Crowns and Smiles in mid-January 2018. She got her first paying client February 1, 2018.
Impressed with her speed in acquiring a paying customer, I asked Sandra how she did it. “I do what it takes to connect with my client. This means Great Crowns and Smiles uses every promotional tool that my client looks at, listens to, reads, everything. I am constantly finding ways to consistently communicate to my client that I am here to help. “
I push her for more info, I mean everyone uses social media and print media. What’s the secret?
She relents, “About three months prior to my expected opening date, I was pounding the pavement, communicating to my connections about Great Crowns, and scheduling meetings with potential customers. I have a great team. Three highly skilled and determined people. They used their connections to spread the word about Great Crowns and Smiles. My team helped me to get in front of customers.”
Her team’s passion paid off. Great Crowns and Smiles is right on track with its financial projections. The company now has 15-20 paying customers.
Sandra Ramsey, owner of Great Crowns and Smiles Dental Lab, LLC.
I know that getting a business off the ground is not all peaches and cream, so I ask her what has been the most frustrating part of starting this business.

“Finding the right location. A location that met the scope of the lab’s needs, works for my team, and is accessible to the right clients. It took me a while to find the best location for my vision. The second challenge was waiting for the loan to close. It was frustrating, because I had to practice patience. The closing made me have to trust the process. It was tough at times, but I did it.”

I notice a card on her desk. The cover of the card looks like a snow storm. “What’s that?” I ask Sandra. She smiles and her eyes light up. She hands it to me. It’s a thank you note from a client. The client expressed thanks to Great Crowns and Smiles for producing “perfectly fitting crowns,” which led to the client reducing patients’ chair time by 30 minutes. Great Crowns and Smiles has thrilled a customer, but Sandra got to help restore a life.
Toni has worked with the Louisville SBDC since 2006. Prior to joining the KSBDC, she served as project director for the Louisville Minority Business Development Center and housing director for Sullivan University. Toni holds an M.B.A. and a B.A. in English, both from the University of Louisville. She is a twice recipient of the Million Dollar Loan Club, a distinction honoring KSBDC consultants who have assisted with more than $1 million in funding for clients. She has her Export and Trade Counseling Certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Toni is active in her community and volunteers with Middle School Connection and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana. Outside of the office, Toni enjoys reading, volunteering, exercising and attending plays and sporting events.

Three Franchise Myths Busted

by Amanda Berry
Have you ever wanted to own a business, but didn’t know what you would do or how to get started?
If you were like me, thoughts of business ownership where like a dream – nice to think about on my way into work Monday morning, but impossible to do. After all, I didn’t think I had a skill set I could turn into a business, and I certainly didn’t have a ton of money to get started. I almost resigned myself to the rat race for the rest of my working days. Luckily, a friend introduced me to the idea of franchising, and the possibility of being my own boss suddenly wasn’t all that crazy.
I know, you just shuddered at the idea of owning a fast food restaurant. Don’t worry – we are going to explore the three most common myths of franchising, starting with that one.
Franchising Myth #1 – “It’s only fast food”
Franchising Fact #1 – “There are over 3,500 franchises in over 90 industries.” 
This is the first and biggest myth when it comes to franchising. I thought it myself – sure I want to own a business, but I don’t want a restaurant. Too many long hours and deep fryer oil smells. Good news – there are so many more options! Thousands more.
By definition, a franchise is simply a license to use a trademark, products, and business system in exchange for an initial fee and ongoing royalties. It is not an actual product or service. Think of franchising as an industry in and of itself that crosses all business boundaries.
Examples of franchised industries include, but are not limited to: automotive, education, personal services, business coaching, light manufacturing, pest control, fitness, hair care, beauty, home services, business to business services and on and on and on.
The list is massive. Real estate, retail food, commercial cleaning, residential cleaning, pet grooming…. there’s a pretty big gamete of different types of businesses that franchising covers. Bottom line – It’s not just food. In fact, the majority of franchises are not related to food at all.
Franchising Myth #2 – “Franchises are expensive. You have to have a million dollars!”
Franchising Fact #2 – “Franchises are available in many different investment levels.”
First, when we talk about how much franchises cost, we really need to think of it in terms of the total investment. Many people only think of the initial franchise fee, but it’s going to take a lot more than just the fee to get up and running.
 We need to think about everything: startup costs, equipment,  rent or payments for a commercial property, payroll, operating expenses for 3-6 months, salary for the owner, etc. We call this the total investment because you will totally need every penny to actually open your doors and operate your business.  
When looking at the total investment for a franchised business, the price can range from $50,000 all the way up to a million dollars. However, the “sweet spot” is in that $100,000 to $250,000 range. That’s where you have the most choices. And like buying a house, given the right credit, a client can finance around 80% of the total investment price. There are many financing options out there most people never think about. (Did you know you can use your 401k to purchase a business with zero tax penalty? I didn’t either until I did it. You have options!)
I cannot stress this next sentence enough – there is no automatic correlation between the cost of the franchise and the potential return. In fact, sometimes a more expensive franchise means more overhead – and it could cost you more to run and operate it versus something that’s got a smaller investment with no overhead. Again, repeat after me – You don’t have to invest in the most expensive franchise to make the most money.
Franchising Myth #3 – “Industry experience is required.”
Franchising Fact #3 – “No industry experience is required, and it is often preferred that you don’t have prior experience”
Sadly, I personally think this myth is what keeps a lot of really great would-be entrepreneurs from making the leap to business ownership. There is a myth that you have to have a skill associated with the product your business is selling.
To own an automotive store, you must be a mechanic. To own a salon, you must be a cosmetologist. That’s really not true – not at all.
A business owner must be able to focus on being the business owner. To own a business, you need management skills, people and communication skills, a certain amount of ‘figure it out’ skills.
In the franchising world, a franchisor wants someone with a good head on their shoulders that can follow a system to success.
They want people that can put a plan into action and is open to learning new things. Most of the time, the franchisor doesn’t want you to have industry experience – you might have some bad habits that are hard to break.
A franchise owner is someone that wants to work on the business, not necessarily in the business. When you think about it like that, when you really look at your business and leadership skills as your greatest asset – your options become unlimited.
There are many more misconceptions out there, but these three represent the biggest ones I come across when coaching clients through the process of researching franchise opportunities.
Remember at the beginning of this blog I said I personally looked into franchise ownership options? My company, FranNet of Kentucky, is my franchise and this is what I do. I provide education and guidance to clients interested in becoming their own boss – all at no cost or obligation. I help uncover your hidden skill sets and match you to a franchise business that fits you and your goals. So please join me online, Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at noon for an informational session on how you can drop the daily grind and find your own 9 to 5. Click here to register for the webinar.  
Amanda Berry is the Franchising Specialist for the Louisville, KY and surrounding areas. Amanda started with Frannet as a client who had a dream of owning her own business. After working with the Franchising Specialists of Kentucky including Floyd, Harrison and Clark counties in Indiana, she decided that helping others find their perfect business was the perfect business for herself as well!
Prior to joining Frannet, Amanda devoted more than 10 years to various leadership roles with the Department of Veterans Affairs. There, she coached hundreds of employees in career development while also acting as an advocate for Veterans and their families. Amanda is experienced in providing one-on-one career and business coaching services and is very passionate about helping others realize their dream and discover their true potential.
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