We had a chance to spend some time talking with experienced entrepreneur and business creator, Ben Rines. He is the creator and developer of Balloon Training Institute the most comprehensive hands-on Classic Balloon Decor Training in the U.S.! Having developed and branded The Smoky Mountain Balloon Company for the last 12 years, Ben realized he wanted to provide this profitable opportunity to others, allowing them to work on their own terms with affordable start-up costs. Balloon Training Institute provides a 6-day hands-on intense balloon decorating course with technical, sales and new business start-up information. Ben’s team believes this to be the best value and return on investment in a new business opportunity.
BO: How does someone know if they have what it takes to own their own business? Tell us a bit about how you made the decision and why.
Mr. Rines: I took my journey into the entrepreneur world at a young age with the desire to continue the learning process, and the need to find an outlet for my creative energy.
BO: What was the biggest challenge you faced in your first six months in business? How did you meet that challenge?
Mr. Rines: Knowing my business inside out, and that we have an incredible business opportunity, I needed to define my market, depend on qualified marketing professionals to help me get to goal was a challenge. Frustrated at the performance, it was time to wear yet another hat learning the web development process.
BO: What do you think is the greatest challenge facing business owners today and why? Any suggestions for how to address those challenges?
Mr. Rines: Definitely lack of preparation and planning. Take the time and do a business plan, define your goals and target market.
BO: What is the single strongest piece of advice you would have for someone just starting out in business for themselves?
Mr. Rines: Commitment, continuing to work towards goal while overcoming challenges along the way.
BO: What would you say is the one thing that new business owners forget about or overlook when they’re just planning/starting out?
Mr. Rines: The true hard work, hours and commitment it takes to get successful.
BO: What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful in growing your business?
Mr. Rines: Local television has been a great branding tool for us. They usually have limited budgets and are more than happy to have our company provide visually pleasing local interest TV spots.
BO: What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?
Mr. Rines: Balloons are a very profitable fun way to create memories and add impact to corporate and non-profit events.
BO: After the initial start-up phase in business, what obstacles do business owners face as they try to grow their business and remain successful?
Mr. Rines: Any advice for how to overcome those obstacles? Social media marketing is an ever changing platform, yet is a great advantage to the small business. Take online mini courses and learn new ways to network and promote your business.
Mr. Rines: There are many software products to most any business, we provide students with starter software along with templates and contracts as part of our package. We recommend Serif software as it is user friendly, affordable and offers many in program features.
BO: What did you do before you decided to become your own boss, and how have those skills helped you in your current business?
Mr. Rines: I grew up in a family business. I worked a few jobs here and there but needed an outlet for creativity I could not get from a standard job. Business training is not an overnight skill, it takes a lifetime of commitment, constant learning and adapting to the changing internet marketing rules and requirements. Good customer service is the best asset I learned at a young age, do right and be fair to your customers is the best foundation for a successful business.
BO: What process do you follow to successfully close on a lead and make the final sale? Any tips?
Mr. Rines: Acknowledge the inquiry immediately, follow up with a welcome letter and send more information Start a dialogue with the perspective client, learning their needs, goals and providing a solution as to why they contacted you to begin with.
BO: If you work from home, what are the greatest benefits to doing so? What are the drawbacks, and how do you manage them?
Mr. Rines: Working on your own terms is a great benefit, however, to be successful you still have to define a work schedule, working at home allows me to multitask, doing laundry and running business errands when needed.
BO: If you own more than one business, how have you integrated your businesses to juggle it all successfully? Any suggestions?
Mr. Rines: We run three companies, using separate dedicated phone lines, I am able to schedule jobs and take orders and provide free consultations thru out the day. The customer – client – does not know because they all receive individual attention.
Ben says that being an entrepreneur is a wonderful journey, a lot of hard work and commitment. One has to know if it is right for them. There is no greater personal satisfaction than the creation of a successful business. The challenges are harder and the rewards are greater. I wouldn’t have done it any other way!
“When the ordinary just won’t do!“