The following is a guest post by Norm Bour of VapeMentorss. All opinions are those of the author.
There is a huge groundswell of activity in the east coast and southern part of the country and we see lots of inquiries. How many stores are too many? HOW can you compete in such a crowded market? Is there a BUBBLE looming? Some of these will be addressed in other reports, but for now let’s talk to those that have desires, dreams, goals, aspirations to own your own business. I have termed a name for you folks and this is the first time it will be in print:
Vapreneurs, which is a Smash up of Vape and Entrepreneur.
These folks (you) are becoming an army and will continue to grow. There will be victors and losers and some that may be devastated by this War of the Vape Space. The challenges that we face are NOT isolated to just this industry but come part and parcel of just BEING an entrepreneur or a business owner.
What states are “hot” right now? In order:
3. Florida and Virginia are neck in neck for #3 (BTW, notice the trend from the East and Southeast. We do.)
And new one is creeping up from the back: Missouri, who I guess want to be “shown.” Let’s see how many of you recall your state geography and state slogans and nicknames…
WHY do people contact us and what information do they want?
Opening a B & M location
Developing an on-line store
Making their own juice, though this is getting less common as many realize this is a huge litigation trap.
MOST of these leads/ contacts are still in the investigative stage, which can take from just a short time until forever, for those that never engage. Which will be the majority.
For the record, I am a published author, wrote a book about “overnight success,” and have called myself a “highly unemployable entrepreneur” for many years. Are entrepreneurs born that way (thanks Lady Gaga), are they made, and if so, why? Necessity? Some recessive gene that pops up at some point in your life?
MY/ our commitment is to help you regardless of WHY you are here. I support all entrpreneurs and visionaries and risk takers—especially in this Space. NOTHING would grieve me more than to see some of you open a store, fail, lose money and hope and your dream, and say, “Oh well, I tried, guess it’s back to Starbucks for me.” That would totally suck and I would feel like I let you down, so be warned if you try to go this alone.
The questions on people’s minds:
How many shops do we have in the nation?
How much does an average store make?”
And finally the Biggie, A#1: “How much do I need to open a store?”
The reality is most of the people that contact us do NOT have the funds to open a store. So what do they do? We hate to be dream killers or the messengers of bad news, but we do offer solutions, and that is what prompted this Blog.
If you do not have the cash—or any cash—to open your own shop, then the next options are:
Find a Partner
Find an Investor
Get a job at a shop (more on that in a moment)
They are each separate conversations to engage in, and each have their specific strategies, so here’s a step by step guide to doing that. Please note that these are conversations that should be “crafted” strategically and any agreements made should be in writing and enforced.
You have some or lots of experience in using the products, read the reports, share with your friends and are a good “technician.” That means you can dismantle mods and rebuild and rewire and do all those fun things some people like to do. You have skills, but no cash.
A great book you should read is “The e-Myth” by Michael Gerber, which talks about the difference between being a “technician” and being a business owner. They are not the same (usually) and each requires different skills. If you are a technician, with skills, the best way to open a shop is to find someone to compliment what you may lack: money and experience.
editor’s note – the affiliate link was added by me -SK
Engaging a partner:
Ask yourself: What’s in it for them? What can you offer them to make them feel you are worthy of their trust?
There are lots of people with money and they are always looking for opportunities. A partner will usually be hands on and have some participation in the business and you will negotiate a split or equity ownership. If they have the cash and experience this split will not be equitable, but is strongly in their favor. “He who has the cash rules.”
WHY would they do this?
They can get into the Vape Space and have a partner (you) that does most of the work. They may work there as well, but in many cases they’ll be more of a guide than a hands on partner. It’s possible they’re doing it for fun, but they do not plan on losing any money in this transaction.
These people are everywhere!
Network with anyone and everyone that has money, find and ask astute people, approach them with respect and not entitlement and you may find the perfect partner.
Engaging an Investor:
This is a different conversation and is based primarily on their expected rate of return if they lend you money. This will usually be a loan rather than equity in the business, but it could be both. The mindset of these people is that they are in it for the money. Helping people stop smoking and doing some of the things that we in the business call Passion, may be less important to them.
Is it more profitable for them to get involved in this booming business or buy boring stocks or real estates or whatever they may be in to? You never know till you try, and these people are everywhere, too.
Investors will be looking for security, i.e., is there something you have that they can take if you don’t pay? Think of it like a car or house loan. They still want to know “What’s in it for them?” but again, it’s all about ROI: Return on Investment. This venture may be considered risky so offering a 5% return or a single digit will not cut it.
NOTE: AVOID relatives and close friends and do everything in WRITING. Nothing destroys a relationship faster and with more long-term damage than money issues.
Get a job at a Vape Store:
No, seriously. It’s a good way to learn the business with minimal or no risk. Get a job even for no pay if you must, but absorb everything you can and observe what is working and especially what is not working at that business. You can be candid and up front with the shop owner about your interest and who knows, that person may end of being a partner, and investor or just become a good friend.
Even if it doesn’t pan out, when you pitch other potential Partners or Investors with a background of experience in working in a shop, how would that make them feel? Probably more comfortable, especially if you told them you did that intentionally as an apprenticeship. They love to see commitment and a willingness to work, and if you look and act like you got your act together that all adds in your favor.
Where are you in these scenarios? Where do we go with this information? Comments?
This article is supplied by Norm Bour and VapeMentorS, consultants to vape stores and others in the Vape Space. The full report can be viewed at www.VapeMentorS.com.