He Traded Cubicles for Fences – And The Freedom Of Business Ownership

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Kory Kozar, CatchFire Funding client

Let us introduce you to Kory Kozar. He is a CatchFire Funding client who was able to turn his 401K into two businesses: Kozar Industrial and Life Time Fence. In fact, both of Kory’s companies joined CatchFire Funding as members of the Denver small business community and we are so glad to have them!

Using ROBS (rollover for business startup), Kory was able to leave cubicles behind in favor of striking out on his own and building businesses he is proud of. And it wasn’t long before his wife, Fatima, was able to join him. Learn all about Kozars’ journey to ownership and just how easy it can be to fund your entrepreneurial dream.

CatchFire Funding: Tell us about your business:

Kory Kozar: We actually now have two businesses, both via ROBS funding. The first, Kozar Industrial, specializes in miscellaneous steel (non-structural) fabrication and installation. Products include stairs, mezzanines, ladders, guardrails, light structural supports, etc. The second, Life Time Fence, is a commercial and industrial fence company specializing in utility, municipal and large commercial. Both are located in Denver.

 

CFF: How long have you had these businesses?

KK: We’ve had Kozar Industrial for two years and Life Time Fence for one year.

 

CFF: What did you do before becoming a business owner?

KK: I spent 20 years in corporate America specializing in supply chain management, working for companies like General Electric, AT&T and Petco.

 

CFF: What inspired you to go into business for yourself?

KK: I was hating cubicles and having to work 60+ hours a week for a salary.

 

CFF: When you were still working in corporate America, did you know you could use your retirement money to fund your own business?

KK: As Olaf (from Frozen), would say: “Nope!”

 

CFF: How did you hear about CatchFire Funding?

KK: A Google search.

 

CFF: Tell us about the 401K rollover process:

KK: It was super simple. We just did everything CatchFire Funding told us to do: forming the company, opening a retirement account, transferring funds, issuing corporate decrees, partnering with a bank, etc. The process was very smooth.

 

CFF: Were there any surprises?

KK: How easy it was!

 

CFF: Would you recommend CatchFire Funding? If so, why?

KK: Yes. They were great communicators, very professional and patient above all. We — me — had a lot of questions… many of which I asked more than once.

 

CFF: What have been the benefits of business ownership? We understand it was a big deal when your wife was able to also invest her retirement money.

KK: A sense of pride, accomplishment, responsibility, my hopes for the future and the fact that there is no one for me to report to — except for me! And yes, I was the first to leave the ‘corporate nest’ while my wife held on to her job. Once she left, she was able to roll over her 401k into the corporation as well. That was helpful for us on many levels.

 

Thank you, Kory, for sharing your journey with us and with the entrepreneurial hopefuls who are putting in the work now so they can live the ownership lifestyle in the future. If you are interested in learning more about the CatchFire Funding ROBS program, just give me a call. I can walk you through our simple, proven process and you can start your path to business ownership.

He Traded Corporate Stress for a Business Built on Relaxation

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Greg Supelak, CatchFire Funding client

Greg Supelak, of Columbus, OH knew he was destined to be his own boss. After years in sales and business development, Greg had the knowledge, confidence and grit it takes to be an entrepreneur; it was all about finding the perfect opportunity — and the funding. Eventually, Greg came across True REST Float Spas and the rest, as they say, is history.

Falling for His Franchise Brand

When Greg made the decision to start his own business, he wasn’t initially drawn to the idea of owning a franchise, it just wasn’t a path he saw for himself. But, as I’ve learned through my own experience, sometimes our career paths diverge in ways we don’t expect. As Greg researched ownership opportunities, franchises in the wellness industry became increasingly attractive. Eventually, True REST rose to the top.

While True REST did capture his attention, Greg knew he couldn’t franchise with a company unless he truly believed in it. “I went to experience the service for myself last May; that’s what led me to start the process of owning a True REST Float Spa franchise,” Greg says.

True REST specializes in float therapy, also known as restricted environment stimulus therapy. When Greg went to check out True REST for himself, he was closed in a sound-proof, pitch black, tank of warm salted water. Due to the amount of salt in the water, clients get the sensation of weightlessness. “You are essentially removing the overload we as humans have: no screens, no sounds, no gravity,” Greg says. “Most people have a sense of relaxation or healing.” Float therapy has also been known to improve symptoms of depression, reduce anxiety and stress, and it provides other mental and physical health benefits.

Once Greg experienced float therapy firsthand, he was sold on the franchise concept. But in order to capitalize on the True REST opportunity in the Columbus area, he’d need to take over two existing locations. He was open to the idea, but it was a more sizable investment than he’d originally intended.

A Different Way to Use ROBS

When Greg started researching ways he could use his existing assets, ROBS (rollover for business startups) was not on his radar. He knew he didn’t want to borrow from his retirement account because he would incur taxes and penalties, but the concept of rolling over some or all of the money into his own corporation really resonated with him. And given the fact that his investment was sizable, he learned he could rollover a portion of the money as a down payment to secure a larger loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Ultimately, Greg decided to utilize the ROBS vehicle for his SBA loan down payment as a means of investing in himself and fulfilling his dream of business ownership. The CatchFire Crew was able to work with Greg and guide him through the 401k funding process and the SBA loan requirements. “I felt comfortable and supported by the CatchFire Funding team,” Greg says. “It was a pretty fantastic experience. I didn’t have to worry.”

The CatchFire Difference

Greg did his due diligence when he was researching different ways to go about 401k funding; he even spoke with some of our competitors. But, according to Greg, CatchFire Funding stood out from the crowd and my initial conversation with him helped Greg make his choice. “I was 100% the most comfortable with Bill Seagraves and his experience, expertise and team,” Greg says. “Angela was fantastic, especially during the last two weeks of the process.”

The CatchFire Crew is made up of people who are not only the best and brightest in the industry, but also care about the success of each of our clients. Our belief in making quality connections allows us to make a difference for entrepreneurs, like Greg.

Greg’s Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Greg has a strong personal network of business owners and other professionals who could provide him mentorship, insight, and guidance on his ownership journey, including finding funding. That’s a big reason his best advice for aspiring business owners is all about your support system. “Make sure you have a fantastic team of support, for me, that was a couple of friends and mentors who are business owners, my attorney, and my accountant” Greg says. “I can say, without question, that CatchFire Funding was a part of the team I felt good about.”

Greg’s strong support system was there to help him navigate the intricacies of opening his own business and were happy to see his dreams come true. Although, no one was happier than Greg himself — he cried when he found out his SBA loan application was approved and his dream of entrepreneurship was finally coming true.

Thank you, Greg, for sharing your journey to business ownership with us. We know that your path toward entrepreneurship is inspirational to so many corporate warriors looking to find their way toward being their own bosses. If you are interested in finding out more about CatchFire Funding and how we can help you fulfill your dream of business ownership, reach out anytime!

One Great Cup Of Coffee Led This Couple to Business Ownership

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The Pinetop Coffee House and RGB Roasting Company

For Michael and Linda Moffenbier, the decision to work for themselves started with a chance coffee run while visiting their daughter. They fell in love in with the coffee and, eventually, became the owners of Pinetop Coffee House and Roasting Company in Pinetop, Arizona. Learn more about their entrepreneurial journey and the ways CatchFire Funding made business ownership as easy as possible.

CatchFire Funding: Can you tell me about the business?

Michael Moffenbier: The unique thing about us is we roast in-house. We buy the best quality beans from all over the world — if you have the highest quality beans, you’ll have the best coffee. The previous owner had a tremendous following; I knew we’d have a little built in business. We’ve been surprised by the amount of online business we have. There is a tavern in Tucson who brews beer and the brewer uses some of our coffee to brew his beer.

CFF: What inspired you to go into business for yourself?

MM: My daughter has a home in northern Arizona. We visited this little coffee shop while we were there; we really loved the coffee this lady provided. Apparently, she was getting ready to sell the business. After we left, my daughter called up and told me the owner was selling.

It was my opportunity to do my own thing and create my own legacy. Part of the decision was timing, part of it was… I wouldn’t say burn out because I’ve always loved the jobs I’ve had but I spent close to 40 years in executive management. We recognized the quality of the brand the previous owner was serving. Pinetop was the only place in the area that roasts its own coffee. I love the science and the art behind coffee. 

CFF: What did you do before Pinetop Coffee House?

MM: I was in the U.S. Army for three years back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Out of the military, I worked for Coca Cola for 20 years, eventually becoming a global account director, managing customers and operating in 95 countries around the world; I was a globetrotter. And I had a couple in between jobs: DS Services of America—water and coffee company based out of Atlanta, Georgia—I was a director of national sales there. 

CFF: What are the perks of business ownership?

MM: The gratification you get from watching customers walk in the door and taste and sense the product that you made: “I did this, I made this, I roasted the coffee yesterday.” Plus, I get to bring my dog to work every day, Faith gets to come to our office every day. I get to work right next to my beautiful wife, Linda, every day, sharing the love we have for each other and extending that out to our customers together.

CFF: How did you hear about CatchFire Funding?

MM: Online research. I inquired with a couple of other companies. After speaking with them, it felt like a big sales pitch; with Bill I felt like it was more of a partnership. He wanted my business to be successful. He transitioned it to Angela quite gracefully and kept his door wide open.

CFF: Did you already know about 401K rollovers?

MM: I did not. I learned about them by doing personal research and I came across a number of different companies that offer these types of services. When I extended inquiries, the first thing I did was call my financial advisor and he knew nothing about them. He discouraged them right away. I called CatchFire Funding, when I reached out to them, Bill called me back. I sent the inquiry at 6 p.m. and within two hours Bill called me back. He was like “Hey I know what time it is, this is Bill and I wanted you to know I got your inquiry.” He was very engaging, very real. Bill really gave me a lot more information about the ups and downs for this adventure and what the risks were, too. It wasn’t all one-sided about the positive.

CFF: How was the rollover process?

MM: Very smooth. It was lengthy; took a lot longer than I thought but the process itself was very smooth. CatchFire Funding knew what I needed. They gave me defined timelines and they really helped guide me through the process. I have told my wife and many other people, “I don’t know how I would have done this without CFF.” Bill and Angela informed me what the roadmap would look like before I got into it; there was a very clearly defined process. There were these steps; I felt like I was going up the stairwell; every step I was getting my funding and starting my own business. 

CFF: Would you recommend CatchFire Funding to a friend?

MM: Oh, I already have. I would encourage anybody considering this type of adventure to consider CFF. It’s easy, painless, straightforward. They’re super honest. They are clearly a company that operates with the same integrity that I do.

CFF: Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

MM: Do your homework and research the business. Know what you’re getting into. My business is 7 days a week. Make sure you have adequate funding. Look at the economics and know what your funding needs are going to be. I’m so glad I did what I did in terms of the amount of money I took out of my 401K.

Are you ready to start your own business and enjoy the type of satisfaction Michael and Linda feel every day? If so, give me a call!

Helping Your Kid Choose a College? It’ll Help You Pick the Right Franchise.

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Clients of mine are preparing to send their kids to college in the next few years and they’ve started to talk about what to look for when considering schools. A strong reputation, a good football team and a beautiful campus are all tempting, but they don’t reveal any of the real strengths of a potential college like the freshmen retention rate, post-graduation employment rates, teacher to student ratio and the right curriculum. It’s easy to get distracted by the shiny, superficial details, just like when you’re searching for the right franchise opportunity.

Things like amazing food, impressive service and a catchy brand are great from a consumer perspective, but if you’re going to make a franchise your livelihood, you need to consider a few more factors… like what is a day like for an owner, what kind of training and support are available, is the culture a good fit, and don’t forget the financials! Read on as I share the franchise discovery story of another client.

Inspired by Real-Life Events

This post was inspired by a conversation I had the other day, which makes a great blog topic because this discussion comes up a lot. It all began when I took a call in the middle of the afternoon. This gentleman and his wife were looking at a Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise, and they were getting close to making a decision. The wife’s background was in the food service industry, so they felt it was a good fit.

The couple was driving around looking at available retail locations and in the window of one of these locations was a sign saying the site was already approved for some burger franchise – an interesting marketing ploy from a franchisor perspective. The couple had a conversation that went something like this, “Let’s go visit one of the burger franchise’s locations, order a burger and a shake and see if we like it.” When they did that, the wife said to her husband, “This is the one [franchise] we should do.” She was enthralled by the experience and the food.

My reaction when they told me the story was: This is a stereotypical example of becoming enamored by the shiny exterior of a business and not looking under the hood. In other words, the couple was making an emotional decision based on what it looks and feels like in the restaurant. They were not conducting their due diligence first.

The couple hadn’t explored what a day in the life of the owner would actually look like. Not that I’m trying to derail the burger franchise deal – but it’s important that people make sure their BIG business decision, their investment, isn’t based on emotion alone.

When a client is in love with a franchise concept, this is where our franchise expert could give them the opportunity to put the best option on the table for comparison purposes. Something for a direct comparison to validate, “Yes, the burger place is the better choice for me.” Of course, when comparing franchises the numbers are critical, but an equally important factor is what a day in the life of the business owner looks like, which I explain below.

What Does a Day in the Life of the Franchisee Look Like? 

When I’m talking to clients who are comparing different businesses or franchises, I always tell them to consider what a day in the life of the business owner is like; they must make sure it’s compatible with their needs, wants, and lifestyle goals. Otherwise, what’s the point? With the burger franchise deal, for example, the restaurant may open at 11:00 am, but the staff has to be there earlier to prepare. It may be open until 9:00 pm, but the franchisees have to make sure the place is cleaned up after closing.

So, there’s the supervision component, the monthly cycle, managing food costs, and managing food waste. Also, what does the franchisee have to do from a rainmaker perspective toward building brand awareness? That’s going to be a different experience than the Tropical Smoothie business. The couple I spoke to about the burger franchise could compare it to a place like Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea – one of the hottest franchise concepts right now. That’s a breakfast-type deal, so the hours are different. It’s more of a morning focus compared to the burger franchise, which is more night-focused.

Which Concept Suits You the Best?

As someone who is buying into a franchise opportunity, think, “What’s more suitable to me?” It’s not just about what you’re selling – it has to be something that motivates you to get out of bed and execute day in and day out. If you’re considering a franchise opportunity, don’t forget to check under the hood – look at the numbers, what a day in the life of the franchisee is like and compare it to at least one more concept.

Surely, when you buy a house or a vehicle, you probably make at least two comparisons in the same class. The same goes for your child’s college choice, as mentioned above! Shouldn’t you give your franchise investment the same level of consideration? Isn’t that the kind of advice you’d give a close friend or family member in your shoes? Personally, I always compare before I pull the trigger on any investment, whether it’s $500 or $500K. Look with your heart – but look with your mind too.

If you’re considering a particular franchise opportunity, I can introduce you to one of my trusted associates I’ve known for many years in the franchise industry who can show you a comparable concept. This way, you can be confident that whatever decision you make, it’s the right one. To start the conversation, don’t hesitate to contact me at CatchFire Funding. I’m here to help in every way possible.

‘No Room for Failure’ – The Coffee Cabin That Could

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Each week on my way to the office, I stop by this little coffee place called the Coffee Cabin, owned by husband and wife team, Wes and Kriste Crespi. Every time I drive up to the window, Wes leans out and in his thick New York accent he says to me, “Hey Will! How ya doing? Beautiful morning, isn’t it? Large Café Mocha and a Spicy Breakfast Burrito?” Wes is the only person who calls me Will.

Wes flashes his pearly white smile and hands me my usual. With his piercing blue eyes and bald head, he looks like a drill sergeant but he always has a smile ear-to-ear. Wes is an original and his customers love him. He doesn’t just remember your name. He remembers your spouse’s name, your kids’ names, and each of your family members’ favorite order. He’s that guy. His customers will wait a little longer in line just so they can get their morning shot of happiness and share their lives with Wes.

Have to drive to work in subzero temperatures after a blizzard hit hard the night before? Wes just might sleep in his car outside the Coffee Cabin so he can start taking orders at 6:00 a.m. He’s done it before…just to make sure he’s always open for his customers who need a cup of coffee and a smile to make their morning commute a little more bearable.

Recently, I pulled up to the drive-thru and that morning I asked Wes, “How’s it going?” I was the fourth car in line. To my left, three football fields away I see the Starbucks with 10 cars in line. He said something to the effect of, “Life couldn’t be any better. My wife always tells me that.”

BIG Competitors Wanted to Push the Coffee Cabin Out

Folks in town, including folks at a major coffee chain wanted to push him out as a competitor. The original Coffee Cabin, a mobile kiosk resembling a cabin, was located right at the edge of town. Locals, including myself living south of town needing to drive to Parker would stop at his shop to fuel up on caffeine and their morning dose of “Wes.”

Years ago, Wes needed to get the mobile Coffee Cabin re-permitted. If something’s on wheels, it needs to move every 72 hours. Years back, we wrote an auto responder called, “The Little Coffee Cabin that Could” about his persistence and the challenges he faced going up against one of the BIGGEST coffee chains, which attempted to drive him out of business.

The Little Coffee Cabin that Could

The original Coffee Cabin was part of a much bigger piece of acreage that was on the verge of being developed. Wes would say, “They’re going to put a 7-Eleven here.” One day, Wes found a parcel in town and it’s one of the busiest major thoroughfares in Parker. At his new location, he’s a block away from one of the busiest intersections.

The state highway happened to own this little parcel of land – they didn’t need it. He was able to sign a twenty-year lease, only half a block from Starbucks. He also bought a much more upgraded Coffee Cabin structure. Instead of being this small thing that rolls, this one is made out of repurposed shipping containers.

Why Everybody Loves Wes

The Coffee Cabin has a very homey feel to it and Wes has a magic way of making you feel welcome. One of his efficiency models is he’ll be having a conversation with a customer and he’ll look back thinking to himself, “Who’s next in line?” By the time I drive up, he’ll have a Spicy Breakfast Burrito and a coffee ready for me.

I recently said to Wes, “Half the reason people come is to see you.” He responded by telling me just how blessed he is. I added, “You’re going on eleven or twelve years doing this.” We were reminiscing and somewhere in the conversation he made the statement, “There’s never been any room for failure.”

I agree with Wes. That has to be the mindset of a successful entrepreneur. You do whatever it takes. There is no room for failure. That needs to be what motivates you to get out and execute the business. It worked for Wes. He and his wife built the little Coffee Cabin that could, proving that anyone can be successful, even against an international company that’s thousands of times bigger.

Want to create your one-of-a-kind small business success story? Don’t hesitate to call me directly at CatchFire Funding.

If a Franchise Doesn’t ‘Feel’ Right, Is It?

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It’s no secret that purchasing a business or franchise is as much an emotional decision as it is a practical one. However, the trick is balancing your emotions with the hard, cold facts during the decision-making process. And the luxury of comparing franchises is that you have legal access to the types of hard, cold facts I’m referencing – not just the investment numbers and earnings claims – but also the realities involved with the day-to-day experience as the owner. In other words, if you do your homework (your due diligence) up front, you’re much less likely to have to rely on a gut feeling, so to speak. You can go into it with your eyes, heart and mind wide open… unlike a recent client of mine who got caught up with emotions and blinded by the shiny exterior of a certain franchise concept.

Inspired by Real-Life Events

This post was inspired by a conversation I had the other day, which makes a great blog topic because this discussion comes up a lot. It all began when I took a call in the middle of the afternoon. This gentleman and his wife were looking at a Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise, and they were getting close to making a decision. The wife’s background was in the food service industry, so they felt it was a good fit.

The couple was driving around looking at available retail locations and in the window of one of these locations was a sign saying the site was already approved for some burger franchise – an interesting marketing ploy from a franchisor perspective. The couple had a conversation that went something like this, “Let’s go visit one of the burger franchise’s locations, order a burger and a shake and see if we like it.” When they did that, the wife said to her husband, “This is the one [franchise] we should do.” She was enthralled by the experience and the food.

My reaction when they told me the story was: This is a stereotypical example of becoming enamored by the shiny exterior of a business and not looking under the hood. In other words, the couple was making an emotional decision based on what it looks and feels like in the restaurant. They were not conducting their due diligence first.

The couple hadn’t explored what a day in the life of the owner would actually look like. Not that I’m trying to derail the burger franchise deal – but it’s important that people make sure their BIG business decision, their investment, isn’t based on emotion alone.

When a client is in love with a franchise concept, this is where our franchise expert could give them the opportunity to put the best option on the table for comparison purposes. Something for a direct comparison to validate, “Yes, the burger place is the better choice for me.” Of course, when comparing franchises the numbers are critical, but an equally important factor is what a day in the life of the business owner looks like, which I explain below.

What Does a Day in the Life of the Franchisee Look Like? 

When I’m talking to clients who are comparing different businesses or franchises, I always tell them to consider what a day in the life of the business owner is like; they must make sure it’s compatible with their needs, wants, and lifestyle goals. Otherwise, what’s the point? With the burger franchise deal for example, the restaurant may open at 11:00 am, but the staff has to be there earlier to prepare. It may be open until 9:00 pm, but the franchisees have to make sure the place is cleaned up after closing.

So, there’s the supervision component, the monthly cycle, managing food costs, and managing food waste. Also, what does the franchisee have to do from a rain maker perspective toward building brand awareness? That’s going to be a different experience than the Tropical Smoothie business. The couple I spoke to about the burger franchise could compare it to a place like Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea – one of the hottest franchise concepts right now. That’s a breakfast-type deal, so the hours are different. It’s more of a morning focus compared to the burger franchise, which is more night-focused.

Which Concept Suits You the Best?

As someone who is buying into a franchise opportunity, think, “What’s more suitable to me?” It’s not just about what you’re selling – it has to be something that motivates you to get out of bed and execute day in and day out. If you’re considering a franchise opportunity, don’t forget to check under the hood – look at the numbers, what a day in the life of the franchisee is like and compare it to at least one more concept.

Surely, when you buy a house or a vehicle, you probably make at least two comparisons in the same class. Shouldn’t you give your franchise investment the same level of consideration? Isn’t that the kind of advice you’d give a close friend or family member in your shoes? Personally, I always compare before I pull the trigger on any investment, whether it’s $500 or $500K. Look with your heart – but look with your mind too.

If you’re considering a particular franchise opportunity, I can introduce you to one of my trusted associates I’ve known for many years in the franchise industry who can show you a comparable concept. This way, you can be confident that whatever decision you make, it’s the right one. To start the conversation, don’t hesitate to contact me at CatchFire Funding. I’m here to help in every way possible.

A New Year Filled with New Business Beginnings

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New beginnings come in many forms, but for my clients, there is no sweeter way to start with a clean slate than by starting a new business. Here are just a few examples of the inspirational stories I’ve received from my clients – former corporate warriors who’ve made the leap to entrepreneurship and haven’t looked back.

Mark Olenick

Mark and Tracey Olenick yearned to be a part of something extraordinary, to feel like their contributions were improving a small community near and dear to their hearts in Northwest Pennsylvania, whose economy was suffering. The Olenicks saw something special in Venango, PA, and the potential to reinvigorate the tiny community and oh boy, did they ever!

One day, the couple decided it was time for Mark to quit his job and turn their side pickle business into a full-time gig. “When we started looking for commercial property, we came across this location in Northwest, PA, the town was in decline, the building needed renovation,” said Mark. However, there was a lot of traffic and there were a lot of anchor businesses nearby. “There’s multiple country clubs with restaurants, there’s always pottery, as well as several well-known universities in the area,” said Mark.

Thanks to the help of CatchFire Funding’s self-directed 401k, the Olenicks were able to put the small town of Venango back on the map. Learn how they helped rebuild the community so it could reinvest in itself by watching their client testimonial video. 

Angela Berger

Angela Berger is the proud owner of Laurelwood Community Preschool in Waxhaw, North Carolina, about 12 miles outside of Charlotte. We learned from Angela that the school utilized the “Reggio Approach,” which supports literacy development and cognitive growth through a rich academic curriculum and plenty of outdoor play and exploration.

“What I want everyone to know is that you don’t have to wait until you retire to follow your dreams and do what you’ve always wanted to do,” said Angela. “CatchFire Funding assisted me in using my retirement funds without penalty to open an amazing, forward-thinking Reggio-inspired preschool in Waxhaw, North Carolina.” Watch Angela’s video on how she funded her preschool with CatchFire Funding’s self-directed 401k after a conventional bank load didn’t work out. 

Tom and Pattie Macari

Several years ago, Tom and Pattie Macarie visited Cripple Creek, Colorado, a small town situated along the majestic slopes of Pikes Peak in the Colorado Rockies. At the time, Tom was a police sergeant in Arizona and Cripple Creek happened to be looking for a police chief. The couple not only began looking at property in Cripple Creek, they jokingly discussed the idea of buying the Cripple Creek KOA if it ever went up for sale.

“Last June it came up on the market, so it was either put up or shut up time,” said Tom. In March 2014, the couple fulfilled their dream and purchased the Cripple Creek KOA, located 10,000 feet above sea level – the highest KOA campground in existence. “My advice to somebody who wanted to go out and start a business is to look into your ways of financing it, and paying the least amount of taxes,” said Tom. And that is exactly what he and Pattie did. Watch Tom and Pattie’s video on how they’re playing happy campers in retirement. 

Vince Medina

Vince is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, whose naval career was dedicated to the military healthcare system. He developed a passion for caring, which carried over into a civilian career working for the largest Catholic health system in Virginia. After more than 30 years working for someone else, he wanted to go into business for himself. With CatchFire Funding’s self-directed 401k, Vince was able to buy an Age Advantage Senior Care Services franchise in Virginia Beach.

“CatchFire Funding made that dream come true, because now I am financially independent and I own my own company debt-free and cash-rich,” said Vince. He continues, “Most importantly, I get to work with my family day in and day out.” To watch Vince’s testimonial video, click here.

Dave & Dawn Petty

Dave and Dawn Petty are husband and wife, business partners, and rodeo fanatics. After spending 25 years in the corporate world, Dave wanted to return to his roots and build his electronic scoreboard business, Double Rafter D Enterprises, Inc.

“I’m still a fairly young man – 50 years old – and plan on living another 25-30 years and wanted my money to still be there in some fashion. That was my biggest deal – I’d worked awful hard to accumulate what I had and didn’t want to lose it…but I’m also confident in the business that we’re doing, that I can probably make more money – we can make more money, each year, than what it was making in the stock market,” said Dave.

Watch Dave and Dawn’s full video on mixing marriage, business and the rodeo!

If you like what you’ve read (and possibly watched) so far, I invite you to contact CatchFire Funding. Will 2018 be the year you realize your dreams of entrepreneurship? Don’t wait another day – I’m just a phone call away.

One Client’s Exit Strategy Story

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Back in 2010 when R&B Contract Manufacturing (a business that specializes in custom circuit board assemblies and control panel manufacturing), located in Eyota, Minnesota, went up for sale, Dan Knak, now 67, was eager to seize the opportunity. Given the fact that Dan’s professional background dealt with technology and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), R&B was a good match. All Dan had to do was figure out the funding…enter CatchFire Funding.

Three years after the former corporate warrior utilized CatchFire’s self-directed 401k program to buy R&B, we did a feature on Dan Knak and his company, R&B in the Client Stories section of our website. When we asked Dan how CatchFire Funding was able to help him, he said, “I understood the manufacturing business and some of those things; but wasn’t really sure how to put the funding together to meet all the requirements and government regulations – [CatchFire] helped me with all of that.”

R&B had been in business for nearly two decades when Dan took over in the middle of the recession, which forced him to get creative about marketing and finding ways to grow his business despite economic uncertainty. “In the past two-and-a-half years, despite a rather tough economy, we’ve been able to expand our customer base and we’ve also been able to grow our business within our existing customers – we continue to look for new opportunities and new ways to apply our talents to help your customers,” Dan said in his original interview.

Dan Sells R&B in 2017

A lot has changed in Dan’s life since he first spoke to us about how he used CatchFire Funding’s self-directed 401k program to fund R&B. This year (2017), Dan was able to accomplish his ultimate goal when he used a business broker to sell R&B to a man in Wisconsin who had a larger company. Like many of CatchFire’s clients, from day one, Dan’s plan was always to run R&B and sell it for a profit so he could retire comfortably.

Years after our first interview, we caught up with Dan and asked him if he had any advice for fellow entrepreneurs about running a successful business. His advice, “It’s key to hire good people. Figure out what you’re good at and hire people to do the other stuff.” Dan told us that he didn’t want to be an accountant at R&B, so he hired someone to handle profit and loss and amortization – all the accounting stuff.

Dan said that he also hired people to handle the manufacturing end of things. But, what about legacy employees? When Dan took over R&B, he was able to inherit some employees, but he had to go out and hire some more to fill in the gaps.

Dan Wasn’t Done Yet 

After selling R&B, Dan used CatchFire Funding to roll over his 401k again so he could start a real estate investment company, Tierney Investments, which owns and rents out townhouses. Already, his real estate investment company has acquired three properties and he’s close to closing on his fourth. He hired a property manager to handle the rental properties, and as far as R&B, in the sales deal he agreed to remain a consultant until May of 2018.

As Dan reflected on his experience buying and selling R&B in the last seven years and now using his 401k to invest in real estate, he had this to say, “The key is to have CatchFire Funding involved in all transactions so you remain compliant – they have been helpful all the way along. Make sure you do it right and work closely with them [CatchFire].”

To learn more about using a 401k to invest in real estate, click here. If you’d like to hear more about CatchFire Funding’s self-directed 401k program to fund a business or franchise, don’t hesitate to contact me directly. I’d be happy to answer your questions!

To partner, or not to partner. That is the question.

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If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, you may be asking yourself, “Should I strike out on my own, or should I get a business partner?” If you’re leaning toward the latter, you’re probably wondering, “How do I find a trustworthy, reliable business partner, and how do I form a partnership?”

You have every right to wonder. Surely, you’ve heard cautionary tales about nightmare business partners over the years, but you’ll hear horror stories in any endeavor. There are also plenty of stories about thriving partnerships that were a “match made in heaven,” whether they were with an outsider, a co-worker, a family member, or even a best friend. The important thing is to evaluate your options carefully before acting.

Examine Your Options

Let’s take a closer look at your options for partnership:

  • An outsider. This refers to a partnership with someone who is not in your circle of friends or family. Ideally, you’re looking for someone who brings capital to the partnership, while being able to help with the day-to-day operations. Whether your partner brings money or sweat equity or both, you want to make sure you conduct a thorough background check. Ask around. Get references. Learn about his or her character and reputation. If your gut tells you no, it’s time to start looking at other candidates.
  • A friend. Conventional wisdom may tell you that money and friendship don’t mix, but that’s not necessarily true. Whether you’re partnering with a friend or a stranger, look at it as a long-term commitment. According our client, Michael Schaul, it should be treated as seriously as a marriage proposal, and I have to agree.
  • A family member. It’s not uncommon for couples to go into business together. Sometimes, however, it’s better for one spouse to work full-time until the business is off the ground and profitable. Less commonly, an entrepreneur may go into a partnership with a parent or a sibling. Family partnerships can be great, but it all depends on the personalities involved. 

Pros and Cons of Partnership

Clearly, there are many benefits to partnership – one of the biggest attractions is the “shared financial burden.” Beyond that, you’re doubling your manpower. Since there are partners, more work can get done, which means more cash flow, especially in the early days when you may not have the capital to pay employees competitive salaries.

Companionship is another bonus. You’re not alone on a deserted island; you can bounce ideas off each other. Being in a partnership, you avoid the feeling of loneliness that can come with solopreneurship, and that can be comforting. Risk aversion is one of the appeals; since each partner invests their portion of capital and/or sweat equity, they’re in turn minimizing risk. Then, there’s the issue of having the “energy” of two different people, who ideally have complementary skills. This can be HUGE; when there’s the right chemistry, two partners can accomplish more in less time than one person, and it can be magical.

For example, one partner can handle the accounting while the other partner handles the customers face-to-face. This works great too when one partner is an extrovert and the other is an introvert; their opposite personalities can actually work for them, not against them.

The benefits of partnership aside, of course, there are cons to one degree or another. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Here are some cons to consider:

  • You have to share the profits.
  • You have to share decision-making responsibilities.
  • Misunderstandings about each other’s roles can lead to blurred lines, resentment, and even a falling out. So, it’s important to have these roles clearly outlined in writing from the onset.

In Chapter 10 of my book, Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur, I go into detail about the pros and cons of partnership, even providing a “partnership checklist” to help you decide if going the partnership route is right for you. In Chapter 10, the basic takeaway is this: “Partnership is a long-term commitment that requires as much work as a healthy marriage, before and during.”

If you’re considering a partnership, you want to ensure you make a fully educated, informed decision as you would with a life-long partner. Just like a marriage prospect, you want to conduct your due diligence before making a commitment and putting your investment, your business, and your happiness in this person’s hands, and that’s what Be Your Best Boss is all about – helping you make the right decisions about your business!

If you need more advice on partnership, choosing a business, or funding, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly for assistance. I’m always glad to help.

5 Things I Learned from the Small Giants Community

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I’ve been in business for years and I recently joined a community of business owners that made me feel like I had “found my family” in the business world – the Small Giants Community.

The Community has made such an impact on me that I wanted to share some of what I learned with you, but before I begin, I’ll give you a little background on what led up to me attending the Small Giants Community Summit 2016 in Denver…

Almost a year ago, my wife and I took a week off to spend time with friends in Michigan. Always on the lookout for fun new places to eat, I asked our friends if they would recommend Zingerman’s Deli–a place in Ann Arbor I’d heard about–and they said, “Yes, absolutely.”

I had gotten wind of the deli via an article by Bo Burlingham, and had more recently learned that “Zingerman’s Community of Businesses” was profiled in Bo Burlingham’s book, Small Giants. After experiencing the deli in person I was curious so while still in Ann Arbor, I went to Barnes & Noble and picked up a copy of Small Giants.

In early 2016, I was working with a PR company to launch my book, Be Your Best Boss. The owner of the PR Company is a friend of Bo’s and mentioned that this year’s Small Giants Summit was going to be in Denver, which is near where I live.

The owner of the PR company said that I was already attached to Bo’s book, so I might want to attend the Summit and introduce myself, and he was right.

Attending the Small Giants Community Summit 2016 was an eye-opening experience. It was chock-full of great conversation, ideas and feedback from fellow Small Giants. I particularly enjoyed listening as Small Giants took the stage in the “My Company Story” series.

Listening to all the great conversations, I was inspired to create an internal set of values for CatchFire Funding, such as putting my employees first. Here’s a sampling of what I learned so far from the Small Giants Community.

1. Engaging Employees

Nowadays, I’m engaging my employees more and finding paths for them to get involved, and helping them learn more than just their job responsibilities, teaching them a bit about how the business works. I found that giving them the opportunities to provide input and make suggestions has been an invaluable piece of the engagement process.

The opposite of that is where you have a hierarchy and you assign specific limits for each job role. In that structure, there’s no communication up and down the chain. If an employee has a suggestion, management may or may not pass it on. Ultimately, communication begins to break down.

As a business owner, how do you get around that? By not allowing the erection of these barriers within your organization. At CatchFire Funding, I try to keep us all working as a team.

At some level, you want to enable people to make decisions. Not everything has to come to you; you want to encourage that. Things just happen, and it’s beautiful when it all works out. Still, there has to be balance, so there are some aspects where you need to be involved.

Since the Summit, I’ve been having vision talks with my employees. By learning their goals, they see that I care and it helps me focus on what I can do to help them achieve their long-term goals with the company.

2. Customer Funneling

Another aspect of the Community is business operations: Providing the best experience to a limited number of folks is the Small Giants way of doing business. Executing that plan in great detail and being successful vs. trying to scale and meet everybody’s needs, but with a watered-down experience.

“Customer funneling” means to provide a great experience to a limited number of people vs. delivering a watered-down experience to the masses.

3. Employing the Triangle Cornerstone

The triangle cornerstone refers to: 1) employees, 2) clients and, 3) the community – all in tandem.  Of course, economics is always there, but it’s not the primary focus. It’s got to be right for the employees, right from the economic perspective, and right for the market. And there’s a focus on the community.

4. Growing Your Business Responsibly

Growth is part of the plan of the Community, but outside of the traditional process of duplicating. A non-growing business will die, but Small Giants are doing it in a responsible way. Even though we call ourselves Small Giants, it doesn’t mean we’re running small businesses.

As people try to grow their business, they ask, “How do we grow the fastest?” Do we acquire the most subscribers, or maximum market share? They’re looking for investors for the next shot of capital to go to the next level.

In contrast, the Small Giants’ approach is to grow a business and do it in a meaningful and sustainable way. It’s got to be right for employees, right from an economic perspective, and right for the market. 

5. Focusing on the Community

Small Giants strive to be good corporate citizens. We believe it’s our responsibility to help strengthen the educational, economic, cultural, and social fabric of the communities where our businesses are rooted.

Small Giants recognize that there are many good causes worthy of our support, and by being community-centered, we’re able to run businesses with a greater sense of purpose.

If you’re building a great business, there’s no reason for you to have to do it alone. The Small Giants Community allows you to be surrounded by like-minded leaders who will challenge and support you along your journey. If you think you might be a good fit, check out their website for yourself!

If you’d like to learn more about my company, CatchFire Funding and how we help people fund their business or franchise with our self-directed 401k program, please give me a call!