Guerrilla Tactics: H&K, Butters & Pudleduk

 Funding the start-up of your small business with almost no money

Perhaps you’re considering taking your skills or hobby to a profitable level after a sudden layoff. Or, you’ve decided to follow a long-held dream, but are unable to secure traditional credit to start your business. You have to be smart with your funding and spending, so take some tips from several successful small business owners across the country.

Pudleduk Family Farm
When starting your business, don’t think you have to do everything immediately. That’s the lesson that Becky Morse, of Maine’s Pudleduk Family Farm – makers of artisan soaps and herbal products for the home – shares. This family-operated business started with less than $500 and never took out a loan. They made a little, sold a little . . . and kept on going. The family puts in sweat equity with everything from sewing the soap bags to babysitting. Also starting out slowly was Ohio’s Milo’s Whole World Gourmet. Owner Jonathan Milo Leal perfected sauces as a caterer, then he began his business using a local food business incubator: ACEnet. Using their kitchen saved him lots of start-up money.

Butters Brownies
Though Texas’ Mary Louise Butters lassoed money through four mortgages, selling a prized ’57 Chevy, and waiting tables to start Butters Brownies, it’s ultimately her guerilla marketing that made her succeed. Sometimes, her initial advertising budget was built around giving out free samples at red light stops. Butters eventually garnered national publicity from the Today show, Rachel Ray, and Paula Deen.

H & K Products
Even inherited businesses have a “start” of sorts when the next generation takes over. They have to decide what to keep, what to innovate, and how to spend their capital. That’s what Ohio’s H & K Products – makers of Pappy’s Sassafras Tea – has discovered. Jeff Nordhaus, grandson of founder Herman Kerner, is frugal to the point of using both sides of paper in faxes, in order to keep prices down for his fixed-income demographic of customers. Today, they have made the conscious decision to sell the only “true” sassafras tea in the U.S. through the internet, to grocery store chains, and to Amish markets – but not to Walmart. [GI]

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