Featured Entrepreneur – Dane Ferguson

By | March 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm | No comments | Featured Entrepreneur, Featured Member

A little bit about how and when you got started

I recall a time in my business class at Concordia College where my advisor asked the class who would ever want to start their own business. I remember NOT raising my hand that day. It wasn’t until after a short stint with an insurance company where their training program focused on the concept of ‘business ownership’ and reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, that I really started getting interested in perusing my own business. I knew I had great ideas, especially in the realm of marking, but had NO IDEA what I could use them for. After my last term of ‘real employment’, I realized I was destined to start something. I had all these good ideas, but my employer did not wish to work with me on any of them. It wasn’t too long where I started looking for the best opportunity at the time. I soon started picking up on cues from the community wanting a real bookstore! At the time, Barnes and Noble and Borders were restructuring, pulling back on their smaller mall shops and focusing on larger ‘superbookstores’. Grand Forks lost two of their smaller shop chains, B. Dalton’s and Waldenbooks. A few years earlier, the University decided to not renew a contract with Barnes and Noble. Here was my shot! So I took a leap of faith, resigned from my management position after the 2010 New Years and by June 2010 we opened our doors for the first time and never looked back! After just a few short months of opening our first store—we expanded to a Kiosk in the Columbia Mall, mainly to pick up out-of-town traffic and to tell shoppers about our store. It soon developed into a great relationship with the local mall management, and by April 2011 we had our second store! Since then, we have grown into a strong staple in the retail sector in Grand Forks. Yet, I didn’t want to rest our idea just on the fact ‘we exist’ or we are the ‘only bookstore left’. I wanted more. I wanted to be competitive with the new technology—ebooks and online booksellers such as Amazon. We did this with extra added values we implemented in our business plan such as our second-to-none service, our very unique promotions, diversified product lines, our book trade policies, our streamlined ordering process, and the granddaddy of them all our free book program—where you get a free book everyday you buy a new book even if we didn’t have the one you wanted in stock. To our knowledge, we are the only bookstore in the country that offers such a deal. This has become very popular, and we have a established a very loyal customer base because of it. We aren’t even done quite yet with 2 stores…we plan on being in Fargo, ND very soon, Bismarck, ND shortly thereafter, and even keeping an eye to other markets in the North and South Dakota. Our long term vision for our business is to be the ‘half-price book’ market of the Dakotas—similar to the popular half-price book franchise in the Twin Cities.

What should people know about your business

I hit a lot of areas on what I’d like others to know about our business, but I also wanted to take the opportunity to stress the importance to patronize locally owned businesses—your money STAYS in your own community, where it is spent and invested on a much higher level than anything national etc. And I don’t mean to take anything away from any successful nation franchise or chain—they are obviously doing something right! But if a local competitor can offer you a great value they are worth a look J I often get asked if we are a national or regional chain—I always say not yet!

What tips do you have for other YPs that are looking to start their own business

Some major tips I have for any young professional wanting to start their own business are twofold. 1, network, network, network, network, and oh yea, network! Getting to know as many successful people as you can, and truly getting to know some on an even deeper level can help you immensely. Not only for the advice level, but also on the financial level. They themselves have connections, maybe even angel investors they can introduce you to so you can get your project started, because let’s face it, the biggest hurdle any new business has is capital. Whether it’s advice seeking, funding possibilities, or just to spread the word about your new endeavor, networking and connections are essential to getting your business where you want it to be. Secondly, on the topic of money—find sources of it, both on the investment side and financing side—and get more of it! A well balanced approach will keep your business healthy, and more importantly sustainable. The biggest problem every start-up has is undercapitalization, even ours! Everyone tries to lower that number that they’ll need to start. It’s always more. Find ways to make sure you have accounted for every extra hurdle or dollar you might encounter, early operational costs, fees, many are hidden, and the only one that’s going to tell you about them…is YOU! Overcapitalize versus undercapitalize. At the end of the day, if you ‘took’ too much, you can always pay some of it back.

Where can people learn more about your business

Others can learn more about my business on our website www.fergusonbooks.com or even better on facebook at www.facebook.com/fergusonbooks for up-to-date info on our stores!

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