Tuesday, November 6, 2012

'You really need 100 percent drive'

Our earlier blog post about small-business owners being passionate about what they’re doing struck a chord with two-time business owner Jana Vinke.

In that post, we talked about meeting Charlotte-area entrepreneurs willing to take big chances to launch their ventures.

“You really need 100% drive and positive energy to make it work. Money of course is a BIG issue. I’ve learned over the last year what to do and not to do,” Jana says via email. An edited version of it is recounted here with her permission.

She and husband Mike are co-owners of Vinkster’s Gourmet Kettle Corn

in Charlotte. With their mobile trailer, the Vinkes report making the rounds to cater at Belmont Abbey College, Charlotte Country Club, Torrence Creek Elementary School, and other places. Recently, their flavored corn snack landed in three local gas stations.

“Prior to owning this business we owned a landscape design company…We were very successful, but when times were getting hard customer(s) elected not to pay for services for landscaping…”

Clients not paying up is a common problem among small businesses. But instead of getting discouraged, Jana says, “we decided to start on a new adventure” – and Vinkster’s Gourmet Kettle Corn was born.

“You can start off small like we’ve done (working out of our house). Yes, I would love to have a store or be in the mall this holiday, but I don’t have the money to do that right now, so why not get your name out there and start one journey at a time?”

Now, Jana says, the Vinkes are invited to several places to “pop.” Her latest plan is to work with companies and organizations that have meetings or special events. “It just takes a lot of phone calls and showing up with samples to show people your product and offer your services.”

“There is a way to do your passion,” Jana says. “I never wanted to have any regrets saying ‘Man, I wish I would (have) started my own business.’ Life is too short not to die trying!”