“I launched the business 10 years ago, literally out of my apartment; just had the idea, went on Google, made sure no one else was doing it here”
This is exactly how 36-year-old Zalmi Duchman described his foray into entrepreneurship.
As Duchman narrated, he simply:
“set up a website, incorporated, came home, went shopping, had three customers and delivered to their doors,”
His business idea was to bring healthy, portion-controlled diet meals to people’s doorsteps daily in order to assist his customers to eat healthily and lose weight more easily. The then 25-year-old Duchman financed his business with $500 dollars from his credit card.
Today, the company with about 350 employees is one of the largest U.S. food producers in the fresh cooked, daily delivered category, delivering healthy, gourmet meal plans daily to consumers in 12 states and 44 metropolitan areas across the country, generating revenue of over $30Million yearly.
For people who aspire to become entrepreneurs, the executive recommended taking action immediately.
“Act now,” he said. “A lot of people have ideas. … The most important thing is to actually act on them.”
“I launched the business with literally $500 on my credit card, didn’t take any outside capital until I got an SBA loan about two years into it to make an acquisition” He said.
Still, the executive notes that the entrepreneurial path is not easy. After three months of working his day-time job and delivering by night, Duchman experienced the frustrations of being a small business owner.
“I called my wife and said, ‘I cannot do this anymore. I haven’t slept. It’s just too hard’,” he said. “She said to me, ‘You always give up; you never follow through on anything’.”
Because of his wife’s stern rebuke, Duchman forced himself to persevere through the trying period.
“As an entrepreneur, you need to have that persistence to follow through,” he said. “You’re going to face challenges. It’s really just about having that strength to get through your challenges.”
Duchman said success stems from being passionate about the work being done, even if not initially. The food tech CEO also suggests that business owners tune into the latest technology and market trends.
“Early on we focused on tech, and that focus on tech is what allowed us to expand nationally very, very easily,” he said. “Really make sure that you’re staying on top of trends and taking advantage of the trend while it’s new and not everybody knows about it because then you can actually benefit from it a lot more than later on when it’s too popular.”
Important Lessons to Remember
1. Take action today on that plan you have been putting off forever. Stop procrastinating because fortune favors the brave.
2. Start where you are, and with whatever you have. Duchman started the business from his home and with $500 credit.
3. Do not make the mistake of looking for huge loans to start a business you have not tested.
If you do, you might just find yourself with a huge debt hanging on your neck and lots of sleepless nights. Start little, make mistakes, learn and when you understand your market, then you can look for huge debt financing. This is a successful template followed by most top entrepreneurs.
4. No matter how wonderful your idea is, immediately you start executing it, shit will happen. This is when successful entrepreneurs will be separated from mediocre.
Perseverance is a critical quality you need to pass this phase, you also need to surround yourself with the right crowd (If not for Duchman’s wife, he would have failed after just 3 months), and you also need the wisdom to know when to change direction.
5. Use technology to leapfrog your competition.
If you neglect technology in this generation, your business will soon be overtaken by smarter and younger kids.
Do not fear the digital era, instead use it to your advantage. Embrace digital marketing and stay up to date, ignorance can cost you your business.
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