Sunday, August 11, 2013

Your Own Small Business - An Interview With Nick Sotos

Since changes are afoot in my own Massage Therapy practice, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the ins and outs of starting, operating and living the life of a small business owner.
It has not escaped notice that our children have had the somewhat unique experience of having two self-employed parents.  My husband Nick and I opened unrelated small businesses when our daughters were very young.  It all began for him with Carver Plastics in 2004, which got its name by taking the first 3 letters of each daughter’s name.  Carver focused on moving virgin and recycled plastics to various manufacturers.  In 2005, a separate company (iD Additives) was started, which deals in the colorants and agents added to the materials to change their properties.
While I have no aspirations of taking on employees or growing my clientele beyond what I can personally attend to, Nick has been doing just the opposite.  This is iD Additives’ 3rd year on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing U.S. small businesses, and currently he has 5 people that work with him in different capacities.
What prompted you to leave a stable job and jump into opening your own business in this field? 
A.       Believe it or not, it was something of an epiphany.  I was at a business meeting in Montreal, when an associate of the company I worked for asked in all earnestness, “So, as a salesman, every year your net sales and worth in the company go back to zero?”    I realized in that very moment that the way the company was structured, there was nowhere for me to go, no true security in that position.
Two weeks later I put in notice at the job, and began planning Carver Plastics, which was our first company.
What were the start up costs, and biggest challenges the first year or so?
A.       Start up costs were very minimal.  I didn’t take out a loan or anything.  I kept my same office rental and relationships I had with suppliers and customers afforded me credit to buy what I was selling. 
The biggest challenge of the first year, was the sheer volume of paperwork necessary to keep things moving.  Before hiring office support, things like payroll and invoicing ate up a huge chunk of time.  I was literally working all weekend just to be ready for Monday.
Is there something that surprised you, positively, or negatively, about being your own “boss?”
A.      I was surprised how very difficult it was for me to be alone in the work environment.  I enjoyed being part of a team, even though it had its frustrations.  I am quite sure that was one of the driving forces in growing this business.  Now I again have a team of my own making, and it is great fun.
What would you say to someone who has an idea they would like to take to the next level?  What are some traits they should possess?  Any advice?
A.       Remember that it is a job.  You have to love it enough to “work” every day.  There IS more time involved in working for yourself, so be sure you are 100% committed from day one.  Be sure to be a creative problem solver! 
Nick has told me that he subscribes to the old adage “love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life”.  I am proud to say, he does indeed walk the walk.   
Have a great day!

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