So you think you’d like to start a vending business. Do some soul searching and make sure you are the right type of person. Ask:
· Are you an entrepreneur? This is someone who must assume all the risks of a business, but can also guarantee the benefits.
· Are you self-motivated? There is no 8-to-5 in the vending business; you work until everything is done. On the other hand, there are days when the hours just fly. The really great thing about vending machines is they conform to your schedule: They can be installed just about anywhere, generate sales 24/7 and can be serviced most any time. But it’s up to you to make it happen.
Best ways to get started:
The more information you can get about vending, the better off you will be.
· Contact NAMA, the National Automatic Merchandising Association, the trade association that handles issues involving the food and beverage vending industry. They have information on all aspects of the business, including education, health and safety, government affairs, NAMA-certified vending machines, publications, expos and careers. You can reach them at (312) 346-0370 or .
· Work for a vending company. You will learn if you really like the business, and find valuable shortcuts, like installing and loading vending machines, buying product, inventory and accountability. Of course, you can learn all that on your own after starting a vending company, but it takes time.
· Check with (or find) appropriate business counsel:
– Accountant – How best to run the paperwork for the best return – on profits, as well as taxes. Also ask if you should set up your company as a sole proprietorship, corporation or LLC.
– Attorney – To set up your corporation and advise on any legal implications
– Banker – Open new accounts solely for the business (don’t use your personal accounts)
– State, county and federal governments – Any licenses, permits and other paperwork
Some people avoid all this; they just jump in, set up a couple locations, find out they like the business. . . and then have to go through all this. What a hassle. Do it right from the start and you’ll be able to focus your newfound excitement and energies on building your vending business.
A few words of wisdom
Buy the right brand of vending machine – this can make or break your company. Check out the NAMA-certified vending machines and buy one of these. Call a vending company in your town and ask what brand of vending machines they use. If you have decided to buy a particular brand of machine, ask the vendor if he has heard of it or has any experience with it. There are only 5-7 brands of vending machines that I would buy. See my article: “What types of vending machines should I buy?”
Look at what Coke and Pepsi buy when you’re considering drink machines. They have more machines out than any vendors. Find the brand name and model number on the left side of the door, on a manufacturer’s plate. Make sure there is more than one company distributing the parts. If there is only one source and it goes out of business, the machine will no longer be useful to you when replacement parts aren’t available.
Watch out for “biz op” guys. These are the unscrupulous companies that try to rip you off by selling a vending franchise with substandard vending machines, bad accounts, and a franchise that is little more than name only. These companies last only a short period of time. They steal your money, bankrupt out and laugh all the way to the bank.
The people who stay in this business stay in it for life. Every day is different; you have new challenges and new ways of making money. I seldom see vendors retire, but if they do, they’re back to work in just a few weeks. Compared to running a vending business, golfing and fishing just aren’t enough.…
So you think you’d like to start a vending business. Do some soul searching and make sure you are the right type of person. Ask:
Does that sound like you? Always wanted to go to business on your own, yet never took the first step? What the hell are you so afraid of? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Remember: if you don’t take risks in your life, your life will forever be the same.
This article is actually not really an article. I simply wanted to share with you two insights I gained over my years of entrepreneurship. So here goes.
There are two conversations I will always remember. The first one was with a good friend of mine, one Saturday perhaps 15 years ago. I was born and raised in Tel-Aviv, Israel and the whole concept of Saturday morning with friends is a big thing. My friend had an idea for a new business, and me being an entrepreneur in heart, was listening and giving pointers. He was going on and on about the business model, what the steps were, how big the market is etc. in his head he was already going public and retiring to a little island he just bought off the coast of Greece.
I remember vividly sharing his enthusiasm, telling him how I thought it was a good idea, where he should get the initial funding, how I thought the product should be designed etc. We had a lovely talk and then said our goodbyes, going back to the daily grind on Sunday (in Israel, people work on Sunday, but mostly have Fridays off).
After a couple of days I was talking to him over the phone, chit chatting about life the universe and everything, and asked him how he was moving forward with his business idea. His response was, and I quote: “I don’t have time right now; things are really hectic at work”. It hit me like a thunderbolt. My friend is a Saturday entrepreneur. In his head he build up a fantastic scenario made of the things he believes can bring him joy, then comes the start of the week and he is back on his daily routine. Saturday entrepreneurs will never take the leap to becoming real entrepreneurs. That takes guts, risk and a little bit of uncertainty.
The second conversation I wanted to share with you was a talk I had with my late grandfather. He was an old school businessman, filled with wisdom and insight. At the height of his ventures he actually owned a bank that he sold to another bank, making a nice bundle in between;)
I was 17 years old and had just failed my third driving test. I remember sitting with him in his house, telling him that I will probably never have a driver’s license. He looked at me, smiled and very calmly said “go take a look outside, see how many idiots drive a car, then come back in here and tell me you can’t do it”. I had carried that sentence with me all my life. Whenever someone tells me entrepreneurship is hard, I tell them to look at the guy who owns the local grocery store, the person who owns a caf?Ã¯Â¿Â½, even a guy selling hot dogs on the street. If they can be entrepreneurs, why can’t you?
So what’s there to learn from these sayings? Only one thing. Don’t be afraid.…
In a high tech world where it is virtually possible to survive and run a business over the web without ever leaving your bedroom, does in person, face to face networking still make sense?
Of course some will argue that in person networking is now obsolete and is completely unnecessary. Certainly with social networking and how comfortable people are now with doing business via their mobile devices you could still make great connections purely via the Internet and never have to step foot out of your home. In many ways you could say that it is definitely more cost effective and better time management not to do face to face meetings or attend networking events.
However, in a new business environment dominated by the web and Internet companies it is clear that those who do get out from behind the curtain and embrace real world engagement with other real people can gain a major advantage over the competition. You may have the best prices in world, the coolest outsourcing network set up that allows you to run staff on three different continents, 24 hours a day and the catchiest slogans, but at the end of the day people buy people, not slick websites. If you are the only one out there making a personal connection you could have a major advantage over the competition regardless of price.
You do need to be careful about budget when getting out and doing in person networking. If you aren’t watching the bottom line it is easy to blow a lot of money and time on unprofitable meetings, not to mention gas, fancy restaurants, bar tabs for entertaining and more. However, when people are able to put a face to a name they are much more likely to bite on big ticket sales items, forge new strategic partnerships and sign checks much faster, all which can mean much bigger profit margins and taking your business to the next level much faster than you thought possible.
So, yes in person networking definitely still makes sense in a lot of industries. Be sensible about it, but if you block out even a couple hours a week to attend networking functions at the Chamber of Commerce, put together mastermind luncheons or even hang out with the right crowd you will find it can have a huge positive impact on your business and enable great growth. Worst case scenario, getting out will at least provide a better balance in your life and open the door to new inspiration for fueling your venture to new highs.…
New business owners often want to create a business the way we prepare an instant frozen dinner. Pop into the microwave, press a button and enjoy dinner almost immediately. But for long-lasting business growth, think of starting from scratch, simmering slowly and waiting till you’re really ready to serve.
Now I am being biased here, but I refuse to eat frozen meals. They taste like cardboard. They tend to have lots of preservatives. Even the dog will turn up her nose when I offer her the leftovers.
When I take the time to cook a meal from scratch – stir fry, simmer or bake – I find the labor often isn’t much greater. The resulting meal tastes about 100 times better and you know exactly where the ingredients came from. It’s also more satisfying.
So how does this apply to business? If you look around the Internet you see all kinds of ads promising to get your business off to a FAST start. You hear stories of people who skyrocketed to success.
First of all, many people who jumped to success have a hidden X factor: a background in sales (the ultimate ingredient in copywriting) or a few years where they plugged away learning – usually some combination of luck and persistence that’s the 90% you don’t see.
But taking the longer path may be more desirable. Why would you ever want to do that?
(1) It’s a good idea to move slowly when you start without a lot of money. You may need to take a j.o.b. so you can invest in your business. This strategy makes better sense than starting a business without any resources. If you can’t afford $97 for an eBook or you’re watching the minutes on your cell phone, you won’t make a lot of progress.
(2) Sometimes you need time to figure out your business. If you don’t have a background in sales (or a business background where you had to get clients) you will need more time to find your way in this new world. “Margaret” spent nearly a year learning her way around her new field. She did lots of pro bono work, studied and began finding clients before investing in a web site.
(3) You’re forced to do one thing at a time. Work on just one eBook and promote that eBook hard. Work on one niche and build up your profitability.
Then take what you learn and start the next project. One step at a time, you’ll reach a more satisfying destination.…
I love entrepreneurs! Generally, I’ve noticed a drive and a determination that takes creative-minded, bootstrapping, do-it-yourselfers a long way. Those who show true ingenuity, persistence, and resilience inspire us all to have a brighter attitude.
I also love entrepreneurs because they ask me to help them with things like logo and graphic design, social media strategy, and web-based user experience. Oh, and I charge for those things, so it’s doubly-nice.
One thing I’ve noticed, however, about super-entrepreneurs is that their minds tend to race about 10,000 RPMs with cool, new ideas. I really wonder how many ideas are eventually left laying in the dust, not because they weren’t good ideas, but because not quite enough thought and planning went into them.
Having received tons of emails with ideas from entrepreneurs hoping to take an idea big-time, I thought I’d throw together this list of the six things I either say, or want to say in response. They are mostly questions, not recommendations, but the questions themselves are often overlooked.
Is it possible?
I know this one sounds obvious. If it weren’t would I be asking about the idea to begin with? And aren’t all things possible to those who believe? Certainly, but quite a few great ideas are laying in graves because the technology was either not ready, or too expensive.
Who else is doing it?
Use search engines and social networks to scout out the potential competition. Sometimes you wind up jumping into an arena filled with insurmountable competition. You’re probably not going to start the business that will topple an Amazon or Apple.
Can it be done well remarkably?
Doing something well doesn’t make it successful. Doing it well enough to get noticed does. Can you execute the idea in such a way that people will buy into it?
Do I have accesses to the resources to get it done?
This thought may sound strange, but some ideas are good (or noble) enough that you should consider handing it off to someone who can get it done. And every good entrepreneur knows that “resources” aren’t limited to the money in your pocket. It includes the money in other people’s pockets as well!
Is the idea something I’m passionate enough about to stick with over the long haul?
Pretty self-explanatory. Most of us have been there, burying an idea for which we had great enthusiasm, but didn’t see the gap between enthusiasm and real passion.
Can it be monetized?
This is the slimy question nobody thinks anyone should ask, but it must be faced. Why? Because if it can’t be monetized, it can’t be sustained or expanded. Sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes a good idea needs to piggy-back some other more profitable concept. Sometimes, the idea needs to go back into the incubator though.
These questions are seeds. You may have more to face. But at least face these and use them as a filter for every new idea. Let your genius lie asoak in the probing process. If an idea survives… wow!…