For many entrepreneurs, a local trend can spark a business idea.
That’s exactly what happened for Peter Kinslow in the South Carolina Lowcountry outside of Charleston.
After being laid off from his 25-year IT career, Kinslow knew it was time for something new. He began to renew his love of home brewing, and after a career of “working for others,” he says, “I wanted to try my hand at running my own business.”
The craft-beer scene in Charleston had exploded, and he thought it only natural that the homebrewing hobby would surge alongside it. “It was really the perfect time for a dedicated homebrew supply shop here in the Lowcountry.”
Yeast - Everything Homebrew is a specialty retail store selling equipment and ingredients for homebrewing beer, wine, cider, mead and soda. The shop provides introductory homebrewing and winemaking classes.
Planning on paper supports small business success
Kinslow had experience with business development, planning and proposal writing in his previous career, so he knew the value of a solid business plan. He turned to SCORE “to see if the idea worked on paper before I spent any of my family’s money on this venture,” he recalls. “This was going to be self-financed, and we would be putting a lot at risk. I needed to show my wife how it was going to work and get her to buy in.”
He first attended “Are You Ready to Start a Business?” a local seminar that covered all the basics of business ownership. “This workshop exposed me to the resources available through SCORE as well as those that partner with SCORE,” he says.
SCORE mentor Rick Norman served as a sounding board and cheerleader as Kinslow explored his business options. Norman listened to each of the small business ideas Kinslow was considering, and supported Kinslow’s development of a homebrew supply shop business plan in the months to come.
“My mentor was instrumental in helping me complete my business plan — being a good sounding board, checking for omissions, reviewing the financials, etc.” Kinslow says. “Once my wife and I decided [we were] committed to the business plan, it was less than a month from getting the lease to opening the shop.”
Kinslow also took an introduction to QuickBooks workshop that “was very helpful in clarifying my understanding of the accounting side of my business,” he says.
When being CEO means Chief Everything Officer
“As a sole proprietor and only employee, keeping up with all the details of running a business is never ending,” Kinslow admits. “Partnering with a bookkeeper took a giant weight off my shoulders. You have to know when to rely on others and when the cost of having someone else is worth it in time, money and stress.”
Kinslow’s wife and college-age children help when they can, but Kinslow knows he can’t always rely on them to lend a hand with the business. “I have had to close the shop a couple of times due to illness or other issue,” he says. “This year’s goal is to add a part-time employee or two I can rely on to cover for me.”
Even after several years in business, Kinslow is still learning how to sustainably grow his business. He realized, for example, that homebrewing slows during the hot summer months. Kinslow met with Norman to discuss cash flow challenges and potential new revenue streams, which led Kinslow to add beekeeping products to Yeast’s lineup in 2016.
Notice a local trend you’d like to adapt into a small business? Contact your local SCORE chapter to meet with a mentor and talk about your ideas!