Kona Impact is proud to be celebrating our tenth year in business. We started when the economy was robust in Kona, Hawaii, and then we soon suffered a recession that devastated our real estate, construction and tourism sectors. Those bad times are behind our community now, but not forgotten.
We’ve learned a lot over the years; we would not be here had we not. We’ve seen 100+ businesses come and go in Kona. We’re seen small startups become big and big business evolve and change to get even bigger. One thing is certain: in 10 years of business we’ve seen it all, including a strong earthquake and a tsunami!
Here sre five things we’ve learned:
- Start with twice as much money as you project you’ll need. I’ve seen many business that have great ideas, but they soon run out of capital and have to shut their doors before they reach a point of sustainability. I don’t think Kona Impact would be here today if we didn’t have sufficient reserves to make it through early years.
- Pick low hanging fruit, but keep your eyes on the higher-hanging fruit. We have always welcomed clients that may only make us $25 on a project, but we also know these small, low profit projects are not going to pay a lot of bills. Over the years, we have developed products and processes to help us identify and attract large businesses. They are harder to get, but they are essential to the long-term growth and stability of our business.
- The market is always speaking; listen to it. We like to tell entrepreneurs who seem to have a revolutionary idea: you are either a genius or an idiot. By that I mean, either you have figured something out that nobody before you has figured out, or you have solved a problem that doesn’t exist. Prolonged poor results are telling you something. Listen.
- Low price and high quality are incompatible. Customers want both. You need to convince them that they want high quality and reasonable prices.
- No business is an island. I see a lot of new businesses in Kona that suffer a rather quick demise. One thing I have seen common to these quick failures is that they have almost no community connections. They don’t buy locally. We don’t see the owners in our paddling and Rotary and Lions clubs. We don’t see them sponsoring fundraisers or donating to local non-profits. We don’t meet the owners at our places of worship. They don’t volunteer. They are ghosts to people who live here. The consequence is that we don’t visit their businesses and they soon perish. My advice: get as many of your supplies and services from local vendors; join a church; join a Rotary club (there are three in Kona); paddle; contribute products or services to non-profit fundraiser; get involved!
One more thing we tell clients: if we had all the answers, we’d be on our yacht today enjoying a cold drink. The above are just some ideas and worth at least what you are paying for them!