Here is a fairly large, but important update detailing a new era for our family. Don’t worry. It ends up being good news!
No Longer Fully Employed – The Short Version
In October of 2016 I found out that my hours at work were going to be cut in half starting in Jan 2017 due to budgetary constraints. Crappy news, if I ever heard some.
We were just at a point where I had put together a new budget and had just saved up money for us to throw into a dividend fund, so we could start preparing more for a more stable future. If you can imagine, that money never made it there. =(
Searching Web Work
For all of 2017 I had been looking for work off and on and have not found a new full or part-time job. My skill set is at middle ground which is hard to get out of. I am highly specialized with front end web development knowledge (HTML5/CSS) with little experience in working with it. I have over 7 years of experience as a Drupal CMS admin, but most companies are looking for developers who can create modules and themes from scratch. I have taken classes in this, but have no real experience doing it. =( Me sad panda.
Searching for Writing Work
I also want to transition to work in writing – specifically writing fantasy and science fiction novels. I have purchased courses in copywriting as a stepping stone and have purchased books on writing to learn both copywriting and novel writing. I have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), written some flash fiction, and have been planning a fantasy novel series off and on. I have applied for some work in copywriting and technical writing, but experience is needed for that too.
Fortunately, we were/are doing well enough financially and had money saved up so that if we were careful we have been able to get the bills paid and still do stuff. Not enough money to invest, but enough to live OK on, so no reason to cry for us. =)
A New Opportunity
The Entrepreneur Source
In October of last year (2017) I receive a call from an associate of a fellow named Jeff Marmer from The Entrepreneur Source who asked if I had considered getting into a franchise. Ummm… well, no… they are super expensive, but I thought “Well, let’s see what they have to say. I have been searching for work for almost a year. Checking this out cannot hurt.”.
I went through over a month of weekly talks, a personality profile test, income checks, and various other things. The leadership personality profile was crazily accurate. =O I eventually received a list of three potential franchises that may fit my personality and potential to afford. Of that list he gave me to start with I was really attracted to the one that he had mentioned earlier in our talks – Naturals 2 Go (N2Go) – a healthy vending machine franchise.
Naturals 2 Go Franchise
“What attracted me to Naturals 2 Go?” you ask. Well, we own and run a yoga studio and we try to eat as healthy as we can – organic everything, home cooked meals and so on. I I have studied diet and nutrition off and on, and have even done Caloric Restriction (CR) for almost 2 years. I harp on correcting your diet as a method solving many health issues.
So, for me, the healthier vending machines can be a company’s stepping stone towards healthier employees and my part time crusade in attempting to bring about a healthier world.
Their vending machines are AMAZING! They are connected to the cloud so I have a website to login to so I can get stats, trends, etc, as well as know exactly how much money and exactly what I have to bring in order to fill the machine up. The machines have a touch screen on them so you can see the nutritional info, request a refund, report problems, and even request new products. They accept credit and debit cards, NFC, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and even still accept cash!! They take everything!!! N2Go has their own refillable card to use in their machines too. =O
Also, and quite importantly, the N2Go franchise does not have massive franchise fees or even yearly fees. You buy your machines and then you are done. That is where they make their money. Their business is setup to support you after you buy the machines to help you grow and expand, which is in their best interest, since that is where they make their money – when you buy their amazing machines.
After awhile of researching them, watching their sales videos, talking with their Startup Consultant – Michael Hume, putting together a spreadsheet to look at the business feasibility and startup costs, talking to some or their operators including a man who has over 40 machines, researching the company, and so on I saw the potential and then saw myself ready to bring this opportunity up with the wife. I had Tanya watch the videos on this and showed her my spreadsheets and, to my surprise, she was excited by the opportunity. =O =)
Business Startup for N2Go
With the wife agreeing (and excited) I started the process to move forward. I contacted Michael who also has experience working with The Entrepreneur Source and began the process of becoming an Naturals 2 Go Operator! =O Jeff sent me over to some financing people and I started a more in depth conversation with Michael about moving forward with signing up.
With these early steps below, our new business was officially born:
- setting up the LLC – FX Vending LLC
- business checking account
- domain name – FXVending.Store
- Facebook Page – FX Vending
- virtual PBX through Phone.com – phone system – (608) 313-7320
Financing the business was the more hair-raising aspect of this process so far. With our income as limited as it was we did not have the cash to drop $10,000 to get an SBA loan, so we had to effectively sign-up for a bunch of credit cards with great introductory offers in order to pay for the business startup and purchase the franchise. Obviously, I am not wild about using credit cards, even with interest free for a year or more for most, but this is the way in.
I am hoping that I will be able to sign-up for an SBA or other loan before the end of the intro periods so that I can transition off the credit cards and into something more stable and cheaper for financing. That is the plan at least. Another aspect of this process to which I had not considered was the hit to our credit rating due to applying for so many new credit cards. This is really not a big deal for us, since I had a 797 and Tanya had an 830, but still it is something to keep in mind.
Naturals 2 Go
Working with Michael has been great. He has answered my many questions and has sent me interesting videos about the business. He also provided me with a list of operators to contact so I can ask them questions.
Also, after running the numbers, I decided to go with 10 machines. Why 10 machines? Well, the time to pay back everything for 5 machines (the minimum) or 10 machines is exactly the same (2-5 years). So, after 2-5 years, how many machines and how much income potential do I want? I will go with the 10 machines for the same payback period.
Where are we now?
Fortunately, during the financing process we raised the money we needed for startup and a little more. As a matter of fact, as of this writing, we are still finishing that process. Next week we will start the process of paying N2Go for 10 machines and their services.
The week after that (Mar 14-17, 2018) we will BOTH be in Richmond, VA for training. While we are in Virginia I am hoping to get a tour of an aircraft carrier in Norfolk where I was stationed on the USS Enterprise during Iraq, although it has been recently decommissioned, so another carrier will have to do.
Following training, the real fun begins, we will start the process of placing our machines and filling them up. Fortunately, N2Go provides a placement service. I don’t think any of the operators I talked to used the service, so we shall see how wonderful the service is. I plan on concentrating on factories and manufacturing plants or any place that is open 7 days a week and 24 hours a day to maximize the return. I will try to concentrate on placing them in Baraboo and Lake Delton and the Dells. I may place some in Sauk and Madison too. We shall see how things go.
We will also have to probably go to Madison – Costco or Sam’s Club – for stock. We shall see. I am also going to look online at places such as Vitacost and Thrive Market to see if I can get stock online so I can travel less. We shall see.
If you know of a place that would be great for an amazing healthier vending machine that is indoors and has over 50 people with access to the machines per day, then let me know and we will see if I can get you on my list.
At some point, sooner than later, I will get my website up and running. They have been wonderful enough to send me the theme files so I can try to convert their website theme into Drupal theme so I can do more with my business site.
The fun is just beginning to start. Wish us luck!!