If you have ever started a new business you know the adrenalin rush of ideas that swirl within your mind. So much to do, so little time…and often not enough money.
My business coach told me early on, “Plan your work and work your plan.” So I wrote my CruiseOne franchise business plan. That plan was to reach out to my extensive database of organizations and groups and book multiple cabin trips as the mainstay of my business.
One of the reasons I chose to purchase the CruiseOne franchise over other travel franchises was their marketing department. I came from an pr and advertising background and I felt that the direct mail co-op programs, website and other marketing opportunities they offered fit my vision perfectly. So I poured a lot of marketing dollars into my budget.
Also in my business plan was a real, physical office space…not a bedroom converted to an office. I wanted a place to entertain potential clients, visiting cruise line reps, and hopefully an employee or two. I wanted to feel legit and my ego needed it. (damn that ego)
So I rented space in the business condo development right around the corner from my own condo in Cherry Hill. I had always loved that complex and now I was a bonafide resident. And guess what, my office backed up to the parking lot of the Coastline Restaurant. I got such a kick out of telling people that my CruiseOne office looked out on the coastline…
I rented two offices; one large and one small. I asked a friend of mine to come in and work with me to handle administrative duties and would pay her a portion of my commission on any sales she brought in.
Big mistake. It basically ruined our friendship. Five years later we are friends again, but it will never be what is was and I miss that.
And this is also the start of the bigger problems. There wasn’t enough revenue coming in to pay me, let alone an employee. I used my credit cards to pay for new furniture, new computers, for marketing, for subscriptions, for memberships and sometimes for electric and phone bills, too. I had to cover the rent, health and business insurance, and pay myself out of the business account. Oh yeah, and taxes.
I found I was really good at spending money. And I realized quickly that working only part of the plan will lead to failure.
My business plan was developed with group cruising as the base of my sales. But mostly all I was selling was individual cruises…and let me say a huge thank you to all my friends and family that supported my individual cruise business.
So I decided I needed more money to do this right. I approached a bank for an SBA loan. Straight up I gotta tell you, there was NO WAY I should have been approved for this loan. But I was.
And it kept my business afloat for 3 more years.
Look for the next installment, “When Life Supersedes Business”