Last night, 1% of our membership of Club Entrepreneur showed up for our one-on-one roundtable. That's over 60 individual business owners from every walk of life, and it was powerful!
Generally, around 2 dozen invited one-on-one "alumni" show up, we introduce ourselves and then deal with one or two issues that need solving within the group. Next, we break for a social hour, usually joined by another dozen attendees for refreshments and conversation. Last night was very different.
For some reason, a whole lot more Club E members came to share last night. The group ranged from a young start up restauranteur to one of America's most recognized informercial personalities with over $1 B in sales. As I was listening to the individual business owners introduce themselves and what businesses they were in, I couldn't help but wonder what magic could be performed for our local economy by simply harnessing the energy and optimism within that room last night.
Think about it - 60 business owners averaging $700k in gross revenues (average small business statistic) represent over $40M in annualized sales. Commit that sum to one or two of our local community banks as deposits in Club E's "Bank Local" program and we could pump over $400M of financing into the economy through the Federal guidelines of matching 10 times a bank's deposits at 0% interest.
We had a husband and wife team whose company provides the successful step-by-step process of obtaining business credit based on a company's EIN number only, without the need for personal credit. For a very reasonable charge (and they'll even finance it) they guarantee that if you follow their steps, your company will receive up to $100,000 in business credit. In a room like last night, that means we could generate over $6,000,000 in unsecured business credit for those businesses. In an economy like this, that is truly outstanding.
A start-up utilizing a proprietary software that attached a bar code on the back of a person's business card debuted last night. The bar code, when accessed by taking a picture from a smartphone that had installed a free aplication, accessed the card holder's web site and video message, making that person's message much more memorable than a handful of other business cards we all collect each time we network. Imagine the effect to that start-up if all 60 businesses became their customers last night.
There was a lady in the ink cartridge business, who recently had a one-on-one with me. Her employer was the largest ink catridge manufacturer in the U.S. with prices far less than the normal providers of such products like Staples and Office Max. I introduced her employer to barter and we just launched a site where you can spend your barter dollars and not cash on replacing the "necessary evil" of print and ink cartridges. The average business spends over $700 annually on ink and printer catridges. Imagine if each of last night's attendees gave that business to the "ink lady." She would have booked a cool $40,000 in sales.
Speaking of barter, the founder of the area's largest and most longstanding (24 years) barter exchange was in attendance last evening. Club E works very closely with Sylvia and Tradesource and counts over 75 Club E members that are part of the 1100 Tradesource members. If all 60 attendees became part of Tradesource and utilized barter for only 10% of their sales, there would be over $4,000,000 in additional annualized business that Tradesource could have booked. This represents millions of dollars in freed-up cash flow for these businesses.
We had a talented artist there last night who produces wonderful paintings of classic cars, portraits and anything else that a client might want. Why not consider giving her your business and commissioning a family portrait for a unique Christmas gift?
There was a young woman who had created a number of products from a unique textile that she had discovered after much research. Who couldn't use the beach and athletic towels which were so much better and more compact than available products? There was a longstanding manufacturer's rep in the audience that started discussing his representation of her product after the break. Another product produced by another attendee, a biomass produced log for burning, also caught his attention and they began discussions last night.
A call center operator with state-of-the art technology which hired American workers and charged far less than even offshore competitors to generate leads and sales calls was in attendance. He will be setting up headquarters at our facility and what company doesn't need more sales leads? Many of the members were lining up to speak with this fella last night.
There was a database programmer there last night. He has engineered a number of software based products including a program that "remembers" all of one's log-ins and passwords for every account. This gentleman has created a CRM, email delivery platform and data base management system that will take all of Club E's thousands of members, classifying them by industry and other parameters for ease of use. What company couldn't use his services? Who couldn't use his "memory stick?"
Speaking of a perfect candidate for our database expert, we had a first time attendee, the founder of one of America's most successful product sales through infomercials, with over $1B in sales. This gentleman's database has over 18 million customers who have bought his products and he has come to Club E to see if there are any new products that he might be interested in promoting through his vast network and via his television celebrity. This man has spent over $250,000,000 in advertising over the years and his recognition factor is greater than former President Clinton's, I am told.
A couple of young men had a towing business and were looking for contracts from commercial property owners. They offered this service free of charge to the property owner and made their money in towing and storage fees. Our landlord was there and she offered them our building and four others that she owned to try out their service. What other commmercial property owners are there in Club E that could use their free towing service to remove unwanted cars that are illegally parked or abandoned?
A lovely young woman in the photography business was there. She specializes in weddings but is now branching off into specialized photo shoots and is even working towards producing an album cover with yet another Club E member who started his own Hip Hop label.
Two old friends of mine that I did business with 10 years ago showed up for a one-on-one a few days ago and shared what had happened since. They are starting a women-only racecar team and through a Club E connection, now have the first lady Indy car driver as their CEO. There are numerous sponsorship possibilities and PR plays for this exciting business starting in our midst.
There were dozens of other business owners with services and products that many of the attendees could use for their own businesses. If all we did last night was to open the possibilities of working together to become each other's clients and referrals, that would be great. But I have something much bigger in mind.
What if we formed a cohort of members from the group last evening and all worked together and acted to become each others' customers? What if we all worked en masse to drive business to each other, to pool our banking resources and to energize our community from within by throwing our collective weight to each other in an effort to jumpstart the local economy?
I can bring America's largest small business lender into the mix to loan $5k-$25k to each member with a 680 FICO score and an executive summary. This loan carries only a 6% interest, is amortized over 10 years and requires no capital. At a mere $10k per loan for the members of last night's gathering, we can generate $600,000 in fresh capital into the businesses there last night. Add the $6 million in new business credit obtained from our experts and you have some serious resources that could be generated from this group.
We could all come together again and again to brainstorm with each other and share the three types of capital that Club E professes in its "Open Source" credo: Relationship Capital, Knowledge Capital and Capital Capital. There could be a simple agenda prepared and we can break into smaller groups, offering each other advice, contacts and most importantly, business. Why dilute this extraordinary collective buying power when we could all throw our much needed business to each other? Like our forefathers once said when facing our British oppressors, "United we stand, divided we fall."
I woke up at 3 AM this morning, so excited with the possibilities that this concept offers all of us. What a model could be created that could be duplicated after proving it out. Sixty talented and motivated entrepreneurs and business owners from within the ranks of Club E can do some seriously great things. I am going to start putting this together right now and I am going to be reaching out to every one of you.
Expect my call!