More Success Stories
iCare - Repair Shop for iPhone and iPads
James Van Raden is not new to being around small business success. Both of his parents owned businesses and he, himself, owned a residential remodeling company. After breaking his neck, he returned to the workforce. James realized he did not want to continue in that line of work for the rest of his life, so he decided to venture into a new kind of business. He wanted to develop a company that provided services not yet available in the Fargo/Moorhead area, and something he could develop slowly. He came up with iCare; a repair shop for iPhones, iPads and other brands with similar products.
James needed some help with financial projections, and found the North Dakota Small Business Development Center online. Donovan (DJ) at the Fargo Center was able to generate a financial report that met all of the needs of lenders. James said, "without DJ, I would have had a tough time completing any kind of a sensible financial projection and he made it affordable and convenient for me. He was a true blessing in my walk toward funding for startup capital. Without DJ I can guess that I may not have pushed my business plan forward and also not have been able to secure the funding, hence, not being able to make iCare a reality."
For the first two months James worked alone and now has the area's largest repair facility and the largest staff (7 total, 5 full-time and 2 part-time). Great customer service is very important at iCare. They offer long warranties on their work and strive to have repairs done quickly, as they know that is important to their customers. To date, iCare has served about 3,200 customers.
With the heart of a true entrepreneur, James stated "I think the reason I became an entrepreneur was one, because of circumstances, but additionally, because I could be the master of my own destiny. I could decide how I would take care of my team, I could decide how I took care of my customers, and I could decide how I would lay my own bricks in my path to success. I could be the author of my own story."
Sky Zone - Indoor Trampoline Park
Over the course of two years, five entrepreneurs worked on starting a business that would be fun and successful in Fargo. Sky Zone is an indoor trampoline part that opened its doors in December 2014. They are off to a great start with 5 full-time employees and 57 part-time. The onsite business manager is also part owner, which the investors felt was an important addition. The ND SBDC helped transition their business plan into a format for bank loan applications and the SBA loan application. From toddler time to college night and birthday party packages, they are continually adding promotions for their community to enjoy.
Flower Central – Florist
Niki Brose worked at a local florist shop for over 20 years when the opportunity to purchase that business arose. Brose's husband Jeff suggested meeting with the Regional Director of Minot's Small Business Development Center, Mary Beth Votava. Jeff had past successes working with the ND SBDC when purchasing his small business a few years prior.
Brose elaborates on meeting with the SBDC: "[The role of the SBDC] was HUGE, especially with the business plan. My husband told me 'Mary Beth can help us!' I liked when she analyzed the numbers and said 'This will not go' and explained why. We began to consider the idea of opening our own floral business, after developing a business plan and a new budget based on plan "B". Mary Beth was confident in saying this plan can work!"
"We opened our doors April 16, 2012. I'm a designer, so I was scared. But between my husband and the SBDC, we were able to blow those original numbers out of the water in our first year of business."
In December 2014, Brose's florist shop, Flower Central, was voted #1 Florist in the 2014 Readers Choice Awards.
Brose emphasizes her customers are the most rewarding part of owning her own business. "I didn't know if customers would follow me to my own place, but I had faith in the relationships I had developed over the years and feel people came to my new business for a reason." Brose says, "That was extremely rewarding." She credits her relationships with customers to the uniqueness of her company: "my arrangements are different from [the other designers]. Customers know my style versus theirs, and they get to know what style they want."
Flower Central employs seven employees and enjoys a constant flow of customer traffic. Brose anticipates continuing building strong client relations via her shop's creative style and approach for years to come.