My goal with this blog is to give practical real life insight into being an entrepreneur and being an adult.  SD UNITED  Training Center has been in existence for 2 years prior to the start of this website.  A lot of the trials and lessons are in the past.  The beauty of AirTrackUS is that it’s a business that is being formed as I type.

With that in mind, I’ll do my best to outline the process and journey.

The Back Story:

Teaching gymnastics and selling gymnastics equipment often time goes hand in hand.  You have a built-in show room.  You generally have access to customers (other gyms).  It’s a perfect match.  Dan and I have tried to establish a relationship with a manufacturer since we took over SD UNITED.  This generally involved us googling manufacturers online in our free time, sending them a blind email, and crossing our fingers for a response.  Enter AirTrack Factory.  We stumbled across them because we saw their product at a local gym and wanted to buy their equipment.  As we always tend to do, we stretched/steered the conversation into more than just buying their product.  A couple emails back and forth and we have an import agreement in place.

To be completely transparent, nothing is written down or signed.  They are allowing us to pay for their equipment at 45% off and manufacture suggested retail price.  This isn’t exactly kosher but we will get this addressed in due time.

This was all decided less than 4 weeks ago.  Since that time a few things have happened: a website has been put up, marketing material has been created, sales leads have started to be formed, and a business partner was brought in.

Marketing Materials and Websites:

One thing that Dan and I have always done well, is make our business appear larger than it actually is.  In this day and age, it’s relatively easy to be able to do so by having quality marketing materials and a quality website.  Word of caution – social media can have the opposite affect.  If some one looks you up on Facebook and see’s you only have 10 followers, some first impressions are being made.  Use social media very deliberately and carefully.

In building AirTrackUS, Dan and I deliberately chose to leverage the SD UNITED brand that we already have.  We have a web presence, we have an active facebook community, we have a brand/look/feel.  This has made it easier to for us to create the illusion that AirTrackUS has been around a lot longer than it actually has.

If you’re going to be an entrepreneur you’re going to have to wear a lot of hats.  In my time running SD UNITED, I’ve learned a lot of skills.  Web design, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop are some of those skills.  While I fully believe in surrounding yourself with experts, inevitably financial priorities come in to play.  If you don’t have to pay $10k for a new website and can create a serviceable one yourself, you might as well.

Current website and product guide below.

Generating Sales Leads:

Now there may be more elegant ways to do this but this is how we started: Google and an Excel spreadsheet.  It’s not the most glamorous job in the world but with about 3 days work we were able to put together a starting leads list of about ~1000 leads.  For us the main source came form 3 different areas: A cheerleading database, a tricking database, and purchasing a membership list for $150 from USAG.

To be clear, I literally copied and pasted each contact into an excel file, separating contact name, contact phone number, contact email, contact website, etc, into their own separate cells.

Through our research we were able to find ~20 trade shows and conferences that we aimed at attending.

Entrepreneurs call exercises like these – sweat equity.

Bringing in a Business Partner:

This was perhaps the biggest decision Dan and I have made in the short time we’ve been building this new venture.   Let’s not sugar coat this, I believe that AirTrackUS can be a very successful venture in it’s own right.  We have a soft goal of $500k worth of sales in the first 6 months, multiple millions in the first few years.  However, we can only achieve this if we set ourselves up for success.  That means bringing in some help.

Two attributes that I believe have helped me get to where I am: 1) Knowing what I don’t know and 2) A willingness to share. In regards to number one, it’s fine to fake it until you make it but knowingly ignoring what you don’t know is a recipe for failure.  In regards to number 2, despite the American meme of the bootstrapped entrepreneur everyone has some one: a bank lending money, a wife lending support, an employee lending sweat.  Steve Jobs had Woz, I have Dan, we needed Elias.

As with everything, I’ll keep you updated with experiences (positive and negative) as we continue our journey into the world of logistics, sales, and manufacturing.  Stay tuned.