My family’s business, Ballantine, has been around since 1966! We started out as a printing company. Over the past 5+ decades, we’ve added a full suite of other services from mailing to creative to digital marketing services to help expand the business. Most recently, Ballantine decided to branch out into a completely different industry–roofing services.
Huh? I’ll explain why.
But first – the goal with telling this story is that I want to share with you how we’re handling entering a new industry to get your wheels turning. As an entrepreneur, you will likely invest in many different endeavors over the years. And you’ll likely run many entrepreneurial experiments in your lifetime to test different ideas.
This is a live example for you to peer into of what it looks like to start a new business (through our lens…take what I share below and adapt it to your situation).
Choose an Industry and Business Model
The first thing you have to do before you start a new business is to explore which industries and types of businesses are most interesting to you. For my family and me, roofing seemed like a good option for these 4 reasons:
1. Fast Project Turn Around
Roofing projects generally only take a day or two to complete, unlike other types of construction that can drag on for months. Also, it’s a very needed service. If someone’s roof is old or leaking, they need it replaced or fixed…and they need it done right. It’s not the type of decision that can wait such as a home addition or remodel.
This type of project also bills out nicely. So, it’s a needed service…you can charge well for your expertise…and the completion of the work is quick, which also means you get paid quickly.
2. We Can Use Sub-Contractors to Handle the Work
This is a great industry to contract out the work. Of course, you have to find reliable, experienced contractors…which we have…but you don’t have to be the one doing the actual work. It works out really nicely for contractors too because they don’t have to go find customers – instead they can focus on doing what they are good at.
The contractors we are using were recommended to us by our material suppliers. We also vetted them ourselves because it’s important the subs we give work to are reliable, friendly and skilled, especially because they are representing Ballantine.
3. Our Company Can Focus on Marketing
Ballantine is a marketing agency that is highly experienced in sales and project management…and we know how to generate leads. Also, we know how to close potential leads into customers–so our company can focus on what we’re good at while our contractors focus on what they are good at. Win-win!
Doing it this way also creates a business that is very scalable.
4. We Believe We Can Do It Better
As a marketing agency that has generated leads for other home improvement and service type companies, we have seen some holes in the market that we think we can fill. We started thinking about the things our company could do as a differentiator between our company, Ballantine Home Improvement, and others in our area here in New Jersey.
To come up with our differentiators, we brainstormed things we thought would set us apart from most competitors based on business best practices and things we’ve seen or heard. For example:
- Show up in clean, professional and branded clothing.
- Come to give an estimate during office hours.
- Same day quotes using professional web-based proposal software.
- Use only the best materials for the project.
- Competitive pricing.
- No shortcuts when performing the work.
- Solid warranty on our work.
- Insurance that covers our company AND our subs.
Ultimately, we believe we can offer speed, quality work and professionalism in the roofing projects we take on here in New Jersey.
Get Your Wheels Turning
I hope that what I’ve shared above about our current entrepreneurial adventure of starting a new business is getting your wheels turning about what you can do. Think about the problems you can solve for customers, how you can create a scalable business model, what will make your service or product different, how you will advertise…and then take action to make it all happen!
This is the process we followed:
- Determine an industry to pursue.
- Source materials and contractors.
- Get licensed and insured.
- Divide roles between the owners of the business.
- Build a website and start marketing.
- Start doing quotes, and tweak sales process, based on feedback.
- Complete projects with professionalism.
- Ask for reviews and referrals.
What will your process look like to start a new business? It’s ok if you don’t have all of the pieces figured out right away…just get started.
And as we continue down this path, building and tweaking, I’ll create new content around any lessons we learn that I think would be worth sharing.
- Research industries you are interested in.
- Come up with a business model that is scalable.
- Figure out what makes you different.
- Determine your role in the business.
- Aim to provide a high-quality service to your customers.
- Take action and be willing to make mistakes.