Wednesday

Interview #8: Victor Ng: How to Grow a Sustainable Small Business from an Expert Business Launcher

Check out Victor’s responses to our Word Association Challenge under “Boxers or Briefs”
Click “read more” for Victor’s full interview
Owner:
Tonic Concepts (www.TonicConcepts.com - EZ-Pass covers)
YB Data Retrieval (Wholesaler of Foreclosure Data)
City Standard Data (http://www.citystandarddata.com/ - Title Search)
Connect with Victor:

Victor started out working for someone else and within 2 years was ready for ownership.  He had the courage to start his own business at 24 years old.  He saw the opportunity for a second business and seized it.  He has now been running both businesses successfully for over 4 years.  Now with a third business under way, Victor gives us some tips on building a strong business with high barriers to entry.



As a Leader:
  • Victor learned early on that you need to find people you can trust to handle tasks that you don’t need to be focused on on a daily basis.  Duplicate yourself.
  • He says that many entrepreneurs get stuck doing the busy tasks, or that one main business activity and never move forward.  You need to find people who can pick up those activities so you can focus on the bigger scope of things.
Building your Team:
  • Work with people you have known and trust (friends, family)
    • Even though there are horror stories about working w/ family he has found success partnering and collaborating with family members and close friends.
One piece of advice for young leaders (entrepreneurs)
  • Have a more long-term vision
  • Build something
    • of value
    • stable
    • long lasting
    • that people cannot copy easily
Starting a business
  • Victor started each of his businesses with less than $10,000
    • Don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a business
  • You need 
    • a solid idea
    • drive
    • unique knowledge that others don’t have -- then go out and exploit that 
  • Step 1: Decide you are going to do it
  • Step 2: Lay out a rough schedule and plan
    • Timeline (could be a few months, up to a year to fully get off the ground)
    • Tasks
    • Daily Action Plan (everyday moving forward toward launching or not)
    • Goals
  • Doesn’t always go according to plan
  • Don’t get too emotionally involved with the idea - this may not be the right business to start - many people get caught up in the idea and press forward even though they should just let it go.
  • Funding (do you need VCs)
    • Depends on the type of business.
    • Victor didn’t need funding for his first 2 companies (title search and foreclosure listings) - he is going to seek funding for his 3rd company because of the foreseeable demand and the low barrier to entry for competitors.  They need to get the product to market quickly and at a high volume.
We dig a bit deeper into his 3 businesses:
1. City Standard Data - www.CityStandardData.com 
  • 1st job he had out of college was in this industry (title search) 
  • Felt he could do a better job (was contributing at a high level)
  • At 24 years old Victor approached the owners and asked to become partner due to his contributions - they refused and within a few weeks we left the company to start City Standard Data.
  • Recently he is focused on creating a barrier to entry (hard for others to copy)
    • Hiring full-time employees instead of just contractors
2. YB Data Retrieval (Wholesale Foreclosure listings)
  • While working for the company he eventually left, a new product idea was introduced to the owners.  They didn’t see the value in this product and refused to get involved.  Because of Victor’s foresight, he was able to see the value in this new product.  “There was too much structure and they weren’t able to adapt.” So he started a business specifically focused on that product.
  • Victor brought in 2 family members as partners and now the business is 4 years old and a success.
3. Tonic Concepts (http://www.tonicconcepts.com/ - still in the start-up phase)
  • Entrepreneurship is all providing a product or service that solves an everyday problem
  • Recognized a problem (ugly E-Z Pass reader)
  • Creating a product to solve this problem (E-Z Pass reader cover)
  • Started selling online and is now reaching out to dealerships
Top 2 obstacles:
  • Age: people look down on you when your young
    • Overcome that by your actions and how you present yourself
  • Overcoming the initial fear of launching your own business
    • In Corporate America you have a steady paycheck, comfort
    • As an entrepreneur you have to take care of yourself and other people - if the business fails, it effects others (laying people off).
Keys to success:
  • Surround yourself with people you want to be like
    • Have mentors that you can learn from
    • Mentors are eager to share their ideas and thoughts with you - so go out there and ask
    • Nothing more valuable than learning from those who have done what you want to do
The perfect Leadership/Mentorship Program
  • Pairing up with someone doing well in their industry - get out of the classroom and into a real-world situation
Final advice:
  • Never be satisfied, but always enjoy the journey

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