How did you come up with your business idea?I considered starting my own business in the branded product and apparel space for the last 5 years, but it was hard to leave a successful finance career where I had an opportunity to win sales awards! One morning I was driving to work and was “t-boned” by a driver who tried to beat a red light at an intersection. I was sent me to the ER on a stretcher, followed by 3 months of Physical Therapy. The car accident made me realize that life is short, and “someday” can turn into “never.” I incorporated Race Ahead 4 months after the accident! During my commercial lending career, I saw that all businesses have 4 common needs: To Brand, Communicate, Motivate and Reward. Race Ahead thrives by supporting our clients to meet these goals!
How did Aviatra make an impact on your business?In multiple ways! Aviatra helped me to reshape my pitch. We all need to be able to effectively communicate the value proposition of our businesses in 30 seconds or less. Sometimes your first chance is your only chance. Better make it count! The mentoring, instruction, and volunteer contact and interaction was outstanding. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are work hard and innovate. One of the Aviatra volunteers is now our client, and two more are on Race Ahead’s prospect list! To be successful, you have to constantly learn, change, and adapt. I’m excited to continue the journey by participating in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in January 2018.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?Building a business organically, brick by brick with new client acquisition over the first 6 months was incredibly challenging. It’s not for the faint of heart! I have 100% confidence in how Race Ahead helps our clients to improve their branding and engagement strategies. That confidence must shine through, as in July Race Ahead expanded to an office suite in Midtown and have begun to scale with part time employees!
What gets you excited about your business today?I’m passionate about learning about the needs and strategic goals of our clients and creating ways to provide support – both collaboratively and competitively. Online competitors such as 4 Imprint, Marcos Promos, and Walmart are welcomed. Race Ahead can compete with online competitors on pricing, and we can squarely beat them with quality, servicing, and proactive recommendations. Products, trends, and needs keep changing. We see that as an opportunity, not a threat. We can support our clients with products ranging from trade show giveaways to power banks to YETI ramblers to Carhart and North Face jackets – how fun is that???
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?Cleveland, Ohio – operating a seven figure business and leading a team that is committed to supporting our clients with our core values of Integrity, Client Advocacy, Collaboration, Accountability and Innovation. Race Ahead wins when our clients win. If we continue to support clients where there is a value driven partnership and commitment to be creative and responsive – Race Ahead and our clients will continue to grow and thrive.
Any advice for future Aviatras?Don’t just “attend” Launch or Explore: make a personal commitment and fully embrace the opportunity. Recognize the amazing resources that you have received to learn from talented mentors and instructors, and network with others who are either starting their journey or who have already climbed a mountain or two. Guess what? People want you to be successful. But you have to dig down ask for help along the way.
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