When 34-year-old Greg King launched his marketing firm in 2000, he named it The Big Balloon Communications. He wanted to convey something that was larger than life, like the circus. But that wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of hard work — and homeownership.
King is the ringleader of a marketing company that had $250,000 in revenues for 2002. With three employees, its client list includes a number of nonprofit and for-profit companies such as Access Media, Inc., Showtime, Disney, Equal, Hollywood Black Film Festival, Home Box Office, Salon Sense magazine, and www.EURweb.com.
According to King, launching The Big Balloon Communications called for an initial investment of over $20,000. Major expenses that first year included technical equipment such as computers and Website design, creating marketing materials, traveling, and contacting resources. King also used his real estate portfolio to help with operating capital. “After spending more than $28,000 from my personal savings, I received a line of credit for $25,000 from my bank based on equity in my home,” he says. The other things that helped him secure critical financing were having an established relationship with his business banker and good personal credit.
“Thank God I had real estate. Otherwise, it would have been more difficult,” says King. He also attended a number of seminars and got involved in entrepreneurial programs. “Getting involved in these programs helped us in gathering a lot of information on how to be certified [and] how to stabilize and build the business,” said King.
Moreover, King met other entrepreneurs who were going through similar challenges and they formed a support network. “We were able, for example, to get better rates on different products and services we needed to maintain the business. Through those entrepreneurial platforms, we were able to meet with bank executives and build good relationships.”
The biggest challenges for King were gaining all of the capital to build his business and making time for administrative tasks. “Putting time into managing the administrative aspects of running a business takes away from the day-to-day operations,” he says. Seeking clients was another hurdle. According to King, he would target nonprofit as well as for-profit companies and then research them to see how he could help in their promotion. He did some pro bono work in order to establish a relationship with potential clients.
Future plans call for the company to hire two more account executives and to seek product-driven companies to join their list of clients. They also propose to work with new technology in developing platforms from which they can promote their clients.
The Big Balloon Communications; 4183 6th Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90008; 323-291-0516; www.thebigballoon.net