I realized I had limited time and budget.
– Nancy G. Vinkler
Name of company: Vinkler Internet Enterprise, a licensed franchisee of WSI Internet Consulting & Education.
Owner’s name: Nancy Vinkler
Location: 50 Casselberry Drive
Audubon PA 19403
Description of company: In the age of the Internet minute where the marketplace is changing so swiftly, business owners are frustrated because they have to spend most of their time trying to keep their heads above water. They have read the books that say they need to stay focused on their business, rather than working in their business. However, they don’t have the time to stay focused on their business since they are diligently working in their business.
A WSI “Internet Solution” is more than a Web site. It includes many services: consultation, design, development, hosting, optimization, site registration, review of connectivity, training and marketing support. A WSI Internet Solution is a package of services tailored to the unique requirements of a client; it is designed to ensure a return of the client’s investment. Additionally, WSI supports Internet accessibility and multilingual environments.
Age of company: Vinkler Internet has been in business just over two years.
Owner’s education: B.S. in education in 1977 from Pennsylvania State University and an M.B.A. from Villanova University.
Owner’s prior experience: For the past 25 years, I have lived in the Philadelphia area and worked in the technology industry. For 17 years, my focus has been in telecommunications, data networking and the Internet. I’ve played a major role in helping businesses translate and map their processes and problems into solutions that help them make or save money.
I serve as the technology chair on the board for the National Association for Women Business Owners, Greater Philadelphia Chapter. I also serve as vice president/marketing chair on the steering committee for the Montgomery County Women’s Conference.
How did you first perceive a need/opportunity? I knew the Internet, e-business and e-commerce were and still are in their infancy. My desire is to work with companies to leverage the Internet and bring their products and services to the Net marketplace.
What made you decide to start your own business? I have wanted my own business for many years now. While working with corporate companies, I began to see the untapped potential of the Internet. I then started to look for opportunities in this arena and this led me to WSI. I saw that WSI offers the wealth of Internet expertise and resources that companies need.
How high was your anxiety after you made the decision? For years, I have been tailoring my career and learning the skills I would need to run a business. So it was a matter of timing of when should I start and not the question should I start a business. Making that timing decision was the hard part. Once I made the decision there was no looking back.
What was your first source of funding? My savings.
How are you funding operations now? I am funding the business through its current revenue stream.
Give an example of how your network of people, including friends, family and acquaintances influenced your decision and launch: I definitely gathered everyone’s (family, friends and e-business experts) opinion about starting my own business and the responses varied from caution to go for it.
In addition, I relied on two mentors who have helped me throughout my career. Lastly, I created an advisory board of people who were successful entrepreneurs.
What was your biggest hurdle? I underestimated the need for a formal sales process. I thought I could leverage my marketing and sales support skills. I ended up hiring a sales coach.
What turned out to be easier than you thought? Building my credibility as an Internet consultant through seminars and establishing my company through networking.
What lessons have you learned about controlling costs and deciding in which areas to invest resources? My initial strategy was to attend events for as many groups as possible. I realized that I had limited time and budget, so I had to come up with a better strategy. That plan is a simple mechanism that tracks the results of my activity, and if I do not get desired results (sales, leads and referral partners), I invest my efforts elsewhere.
Was there I time you thought you wouldn’t it? There was one quick moment one afternoon when the phone wasn’t ringing, my sales pipeline was weak and external comments were coming in from family and friends asking, “Was I sure I was doing the right thing(s)?” For me, quitting and giving up on my business was not an option. I got over it and quickly got refocused on the strategic activities that I knew would eventually turn prospects into new clients.
Has your role changed? Yes, the first year was fine-tuning my market niche. As my client base has grown, I have had to make sure that I also focus on bringing in new business on a regular basis.
Was there one moment when you thought, “Yes! This will work!” Yes, my “aha” moment came when the telephone rang from a potential client looking for me to help them, versus me proactively searching them out. I knew that the seeds of my marketing, networking and direct sales had worked. What a great feeling.
What is your long-range outlook? I will continue to follow my business plan/strategy, earning one new customer at a time. Tactically, I will hire key individuals as my business plan dictates.
In your dream of dreams, how big would you like to get? As my dreams turn into reality, I see my business growing to $1 million in revenue by year five.
Any words of wisdom for others? Even with the best-laid plans, growing a business takes longer than one would think. Be prepared to temper exuberant enthusiasm with objective guidance from people you trust.