Puffer Fish, Peacocks, Toads, and Owls all have one thing in common – they are great at making themselves appear bigger than they are.  Here’s where we as the small business entrepreneur can learn from nature’s great actors.  Be the puffer fish.

No matter the industry, people will experience your business in a variety of ways: website, social media, driving by, calling in, walking in, etc.  It’s important to do what you can to appear professional and established.  Obviously, the real answer here is money.  With enough money, you can buy the best of anything. Mission accomplished. But how do you do the same thing on a budget? Here’s some suggestions:

Professional Logo and Website Design on a budget
Technology has come so far, it’s so easy to do your logo and website right.  WordPress or Squarespace, Themeforest or TemplateMonster. There are plenty of resources for professional looking and available tools.  Don’t get me wrong, you will never do better than an expert. It’s why they cost so much.  But you can fake it until you get there.

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cpa-adviceI’ve dealt intimately with only two CPA’s during my journey.  Both operated equal part tax adviser, accountant, financial planner, and personal psychologist.  The level of involvement and probing into my personal life always took me off guard.  I think this is because if I’m not successful – mentally and emotionally – they lose a client.  It’s in their interest that I make a lot of money.  Problems in my personal life can be just as devastating as a poor marketing plan.  Here are 3 pieces of relationship advise that my CPA repeats to my brother and I every time we see him:

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Reading between the lines of some of my past posts, you can see hints of this topic throughout.  As the point of this blog however is to bring real world examples to you tangibly, I thought it appropriate to talk about our financial acquisition of Victory Gymnastics and the initial inventory funding for AirTrackUS.

Victory Gymnastics Academy was bought through seller financing. To sum it up, the seller is acting as the bank for you.

  1. Pros: Save on fees, save on time, ability to work-in creative repayment options.
  2. Cons: Little to no in-depth background checks on seller and buyer, risk of seller not paying their obligations leading to foreclosure, risk of buyer abandoning business/real estate because of low investment risk.

As it relates to Victory, the $ 175k deal included zero down payment 5 year repayment term with 2 $ 10k balloon payments at the 4th and 6th month.  We worked a sale price out and then my CPA back calculated a fair and IRS believable interest rate to optimize tax write offs (9% in our case).

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Success breeds complacency, complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive. – Andy Grove, CEO Intel

For the last few months, I’ve been battling a problem. A generally good problem but a problem non-the-less. Successs. See, I’m a simple man, I don’t need much. So it doesn’t take much to make me happy.  My businesses basically run themselves.  I play ice hockey 2-3 times a week.  We’ve moved into a nice 3 bedroom home with big backyard.  I splurged on upgrades to my home computer.  Life is great.  But that’s a problem.

Laziness and bad habits (eating, sleeping, drinking) have started creeping into my life.  The fire and drive that compelled me into this venture in the first place have dulled.  I’m not me. And I don’t like it.

Google “Complacency + Entrepreneurship” and you’ll get pages of results about this exact topic.  I have two takes on it.

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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.

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I recently came across an interesting podcast called “The Money Pillow.” The host, Sean Malarkey, ends each interview with asking the interviewee about his or her most favorite books.  That got me thinking that I should keep a list of books/videos – especially given my horrible retention ability for details like names and titles.

So here it goes (to be edited down and added to with time):


  • Something Ventured
  • 30 for 30: Big Shot
  • Jiro Dream of Sushi
  • Hank: 5 Years from the Brink
  • The American Ruling Class
  • Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer
  • Steve Jobs: One Last Thing
  • Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
  • Boiler Room
  • The Social Network


  • The Millionaire Next Door
  • Good to Great
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • Outliers
  • Start Up Game
  • Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, And Made A Fortune Doing Business My Way
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • The Lean Start Up
  • All Marketers are Liers
  • 4-hour Work Week

Board Games

  • Diplomacy
  • Risk
  • Settlers of Catan

General Stories/Research

  • Google’s Business Model – Never Afraid to Fail, Core Business with a Multitude of Products which Further Support Core Business.
  • Amazon’s Financial Structure – No Dividend Returns, Zero Profits, Reinvesting, Gross Growth is What Matters
  • Netflix’s HR Philosophies – No bonuses, No Vacation Limits, Hire Right People/Fire Mistakes

Credit Banner

Recently, my personal credit card from Bank of America was switched from a secured credit card to an unsecured card and the limit raised to $1500.  Now I know there is no way in a single blog post to cover everything there is to know about credit but at the very least I wanted to give some insight into my experiences to date.

Let me be clear, when we initially took over the gym my credit score was sub-600.  Which is odd (sort of) because I’m frugal.  I’ve been accused of being financially stingy. I prefer describing it as living simple, living within my means.  So why was my credit so low?

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