New Ideas New Solutions

In today's business environment, entrepreneurs must develop a flexible business model to gain financing, contracts, and market share

and make contacts with sources she wanted to network with. As a result, she was able to sign several deals, including one to provide services to Ewing Moving Co., a $20 million, Memphis, Tennessee-based moving company. More importantly, Holmes said by making connections with businesses that Ewing Moving dealt with, Holmes Pest Control signed deals with six other companies, each worth about $5,000 to $6,000 a year. The two-year contracts go into effect next January. She also landed three out of four entities that she wanted to service, including one deal that resulted in seven new contracts worth about $35,000 annually. “That’s not bad for about two hours of networking,” Holmes says.

Moreover, Holmes established “primary vendor” status with the state of Tennessee Dept. of General Services, laying the groundwork to serve hundreds of agencies tied to that group. Since May, Holmes’ firm has done work for the Tennessee Highway Patrol Dept. and Tennessee Dept. of Human Services, garnering $1,200 to $1,500 in extra monthly revenue.

Holmes also met with an executive from American Airlines and is in talks for a deal to service American Airlines’ planes at its hub at the Nashville Metro Airport, as well as to secure a contract with the regional airport itself. She hopes to provide pest-control services to other airlines — including Southwest Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and Delta Airlines — that also use the hub. Holmes estimates that the American Airlines deal could bring a two-year contract worth $40,000 and eventually swell to a $1 million project over time. “That’s the power of networking,” she points out. “Having an agenda and aggressively going after new business.”

Raymond P. Lewis, 40, was doing well in 2001. The owner of RPL Consulting, a New York City-based event marketing and public relations firm, had several events in the works and was on track to generate $50,000 in revenues for the fourth quarter alone. One of those events was a dinner party for the president of Ghana to take place at Windows on the World, an upscale restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center.

“I told the banquet director at the restaurant that I’d be there first thing in the morning,” recalls Lewis, 40. “I was literally out my door when the first plane hit [on Sept. 11].” As the fires continued to burn amid the rubble of Ground Zero, Lewis knew he was in trouble. “By the next day I was literally out of business,” Lewis laments. As the cancellations mounted, Lewis knew he couldn’t make a go of it strictly as a public relations business. He had to explore alternatives.

Lewis still had some events planned for early 2002, but he needed to weather the storm and generate income until then. “I went back to catering,” says Lewis, who had opened a catering business back in 1993 and later abandoned that venture to focus on event planning. “I figured people still have to eat and I had to continue to live.”

The strategy worked. The catering business kept

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