Small business leaders talk shop, hopes for the future
Owner of Bug Zero in Cape Girardeau
Computer programmer, husband, dad, bug thrasher__
What made you want to start a business in 2008?
“I was a computer programmer for a fortune 500 company (Southwestern Bell today: AT&T). I had a child on the way, but found my current situation was not as fulfilling as I knew it could be. I decided to start a business out of my garage because I wanted a change. I knew inside it was the right decision to make.”
Why is humor important in your office?
“Because we try to make it fun. People are allowed to post on our meme wall and we frequently use characters from ‘The Office’ to bring laughter into the workplace. We try to make it a family here.”
What is something unique about your business?
“I think what we do is unique because we focus on protecting the outside of the home versus the more common inside. We don’t avoid inside, but knowing where the bugs start helps us be proactive in prevention.”
A message to the world?
“Always take care of your people first. Enjoy what you’re doing. Stand up and say good about others.”
2019 President’s Elite Agent
Jackson RII School Board
Caretaker, father and leader
What do you love most about what you do?
“I’ve been an agent in my branch now for 11 years. During that time, I have been able to use my love of solving problems to the betterment of my clients and myself. I’m always thinking about what I can do to fulfill their needs while also not giving them more than they need. I get a lot of enjoyment in helping others. In addition to my career at AAA, I also serve on the Board of Education at Jackson R2 School District. In doing that, I am given the opportunity to serve the next generation. I have found so many areas of growth in my personal and professional life in both.”
What is something that drives you?
“My faith. I try to use a faith-based aspect in how I treat people. My wife was diagnosed in March of 2018 with cancer. It made me take a step back and realize what was really most important in life. She is cancer free now. She is one of my main drivers in life.”
What keeps you up at night?
“Really, not much. I do my best to trust the good Lord to take care of my needs. If anything, it would be a concern for my family and that they are following Christ in their daily walk.”
What can we do to make our kids’ lives better?
“Think about your neighbor — we have to do it together.”
Owner of Link Electronics
Mom, friend, entrepreneur
What does your business do?
“We manufacture broadcast equipment, including products that automate closed captioning. Next time you watch the news or a good flick and see the subtitles at the bottom of the screen, think of us.”
What is something important you do as a business owner?
“I keep in mind, it’s everyone’s business. It’s not just ours (referring to her and her husband). We care a lot about our employees and try our best to treat them as family. This year they wanted a 3D printer, so we worked it into the budget. Making sure they feel supported helps the process of being a successful business. Every month we go to Sam’s and try to pick up snacks and other goodies to have stocked at the office. We want them to know we care about them.”
What advice would you give to other females or married couples thinking about starting a business?
“Leap. Don’t wait. My husband and I were running out of money before we purchased our business. I own 51%, but Dave and I communicate and make decisions as equal partners. Love your employees like they are family. I believe this is why we have been able to take our business from $1,000 in the bank to working with companies such as NASA, XBOX, Spotify, the FBI, and Fox News. We have fun and we respect our employees.”
Did you ever dream your company would turn into what it has today?
“I knew I had to trust God. I knew the company was going to be successful, we just had to figure it out.”
Patty and her team continue to work with local companies, though they recently moved the business to Branson. They had been located in Jackson since 1989.
Craft beer creator, pizza expert, guitarist, former soldier, runner
What do you care about in regard to your brand?
“Find people who are interested in what you’re doing. We don’t hire just to fill a spot. Hire to fit culture. We try to fit together a good group of people.”
Challenge and adversity. In business it’s unavoidable. Can you speak to that?
“When we shut down indoor dining, I furloughed all but three of my staff. We had to be creative in making curbside pick-up, which was successful and pretty popular. (Stuart and his team created a drive through system off of Spanish Street in downtown Cape Girardeau so people could pick up pizza and beer for contactless delivery.)
When you get caught up against the wall (referring to panic and anxiety from business related challenges) what do you do?
“Good bourbon. No, in all seriousness, when forced to slow down we decided to clean and improve our dining experience. We painted, refinished our tables, and took an inventory of what we can do to make it a better place for when our doors opened back up.”
What do you dream about for your business?
“I would be lying if told you I hadn’t thought about distribution. As a brewery we have an extra revenue stream (Minglewood also has a full menu and specializes in pizza). My product (craft beer) could sit on shelves. I have decided to start small. I just got a new canning line and filtration system. I think I’ve done my homework well. I’m not trying to rush it. I want to make people happy. I try to make them leave with a smile on their face. Unless people come through the front door and are happy when they leave you have nothing.”
What advice would you share with an entrepreneur thinking about starting a business?
“I can only give advice from my background in running a brew pub. I’m very pragmatic and analytical in how I think. 1) Multiply it by three (whatever you think it is going to cost). Have three times the amount of money you think you need. 2) It’s going to take you two years. Bare minimum. You might be able to get it open in 20 months. It takes a long time. 3) You better be more passionate about this than anything else in your entire life, and be willing to work over 100 hours a week the first six months or you will fail."
Message to the world?
“You can’t be afraid to fail. We get a short blip on this planet. You can’t be scared. Do your research. Take calculated risks. Everyone is scared by the way. You can’t let fear rule your life. You have to move forward.”
Sounds of Mind Counseling
Musician, 12-year veteran, clinician
**What do you want your future clients to know?
“You don’t have to be hurting to come here. Relationships, to me, are everything. We are not all that much different from each other. People just want to connect with people. They want to be heard.”
What is a story from serving in the military that impacted you?
“When working in Honduras I remember hiking up a mountain to help the locals unclog their water system. It’s a warzone there and it’s humbling when you know they are risking their life (local people) to work with me. Just by accepting us (American soldiers).”
Your wife seems to be your biggest business partner. Can you speak to that?”
“My wife always seems to be two to three steps ahead. She sees things in me before I see them. She gave me much of the confidence needed to start this business. She has a ‘yeah duh’ mentality when it comes to what I dream about. She keeps me in check, too. Especially when I have bad ideas, it’s not a blind confidence. She’s good about speaking things into existence.”
Executive Director, Old Town Cape
Mom, community-driven, New Yorker for a time
**What do you love most about Southeast Missouri?
“I love the folks that live here. They are down to earth, humble, and hard working. Southeast Missouri is very charming. I love the small towns. There is a distinct sense of place. Natural beauty. Rolling hills. Unobstructed views of the sky. Hiking, fishing, hunting, there is a lot to gain here.”
What do you dream about?
“I dream about exciting conversations with community partners. I dream about our vision we want to have for downtown Cape Girardeau. It excites me to work with movers and shakers in this community, people who aren’t afraid to think outside the box, many being fellow community leaders, downtown business owners, and members of the Old Town Cape board.”
Where did you grow up?
“Downtown Cape. I actually grew up in the Indie House. My folks, along with my brother and I had three businesses in downtown Cape. I say “we” because we were all very involved. My dad had a photography business. We had a dark room downstairs where he could develop pictures. We lived on the second and third floors. We had a bed and breakfast on our property. My mom started Annie Laurie’s before selling it to the current owner. My fondest childhood memories were right here on these streets.”
What is something you are looking forward to about the future?
“Thinking about the growth and momentum of the future. I am excited about how downtown is evolving. There are some really cool things coming down the pike. Some that people know about and some which are not public yet. It’s exciting to watch it happen even during a challenging year.”
What advice would you give to women thinking about starting a business?
“Go. For. It. Our communities really need your drive, talent, and abilities. Don’t doubt yourself, avoid the naysayers because there will be. It’s intense, it can be scary but also so incredibly rewarding. It’s empowering to be your own boss, but take it one day at a time. It takes a village so lean into the resources around you.” (Old Town Cape has a business development division to help entrepreneurs).
What are you hopeful for in our community?
“I think there are a lot of businesses who have struggled this year. Silver linings are important to look for even when hard to find. Some businesses have shared even though the shutdown challenged them they have also seen some of the most foot traffic ever and this year might be their best year. I think this means the community has rallied around them. I hope we continue to do this because shopping locally really is the backbone of helping the families who run those businesses put food on the table and pay for soccer and dance practices. I hope we continue to rally around each other.”
Owner of Suite 72
Master barber, cinema wisdom, father of five
**What do you love about Southeast Missouri?
“It’s home. I gravitate towards the small town, kind of Mayberry. You know everybody. At least for me, I’ve been in business quite a while. It’s non-threatening. I like the familiarity of noticing people’s faces whether I know them or not.”
Is there something about Southeast Missouri people you think is interesting?
“Hospitality. People’s personalities. Hidden history. There was a black cyclist (Major Taylor) who competed in Cape. He was really well known for his athleticism in the sport. In Cape they used to set up racetracks on top of the buildings. (Races were held atop the historic Riverview Hotel). As well there was the green book, which would allow Black families to know where they could stay or eat when traveling. Cape was a part of that during segregation and the green book let people know where they could go. The deep history of people here is something I find interesting.”
What are you looking forward to?
“Change is inevitable. Sometimes we have to believe and accept it may be something you do not agree with. I’m a believer in trying to turn problems into solutions. I lay pillars intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. I like to see how those things play out. My dad had a big impact on me. He taught me patience. I’m looking forward to seeing people really be kind and understand the importance of caring about one another.”
What advice would you give to someone or an entrepreneur thinking about starting a business?
“Align yourself with someone who is already successful at what you want to do. I have always tried to surround myself with someone who is doing what I’d like to do. I try to get around them and be a sponge. Try to understand and ask questions to find out why they are good at what they do.”
Do you have principles or routines you do over and over again?
“I like to work out. Pray. Self-reflect. I believe in the Bible. I like to watch movies and use what I have learned from them in everyday conversation. Using some of these concepts helps me communicate in the shop (Suite 72) with other barbers. We debate a lot. I also grew up with people believing TV or watching movies was an ‘idiot box’. So, sometimes I try to hide my love for movies. I think even kids who play video games can be looked at differently. Using their minds and connecting their hands while playing a game can be good for memory. I’m not any good at it, but I don’t always see it (video games) as a bad thing.”
What message would you share with the world?
“Try to become more unselfish. Obstacles will arise, but how we treat each other will always be a tool we can use. Be considerate and empathetic. Always try to do the right thing. Sometimes you may say to yourself you didn’t know what to do (in hindsight). But if you really ask yourself — you know what’s right to do. It should be relatively easy to know if you are mistreating someone.”
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