Small Business and Franchise Success Stories

Since he was a teenager, Scott K. knew that he wanted to own his own business. He just didn’t know what kind of business, where it would be, or when he would make it happen.

He was content in his role as an insurance broker with The Graham Company (where he’d worked for eight years) when as a result of the economy, his biggest client went bankrupt. That set off what he calls a “chain of events” that made him think about how he wanted to spend the next 25 years of his career.

“I started brainstorming and put together the draft of a business plan. Over the course of several months I had something that I thought would work out well,” he said.

“I wanted to stay in the insurance industry and continue working with the people that I’ve spent so much time getting to know. If possible, I wanted to cooperate with, rather than compete with, my former company. I settled on the idea of putting together insurance solutions for niche industries to be distributed through other insurance brokers.” Shortly thereafter, Wahoo insurance was born.

So where did he come up with the cool name?

“A ‘Wahoo’ is a game fish found off the coast of New Jersey. It’s fast and aggressive, sort of like a barracuda. I want our business to be fast and aggressive. ‘Wahoo’ is also a popular model of fishing boat that was made in the 70s. I bought a carefully restored 1978 Pacemaker Wahoo from an engineer who, coincidentally, works for one of the best infrastructure contractors in New Jersey.”

When asked about how he found Guidant’s services, he explains that he just “couldn’t get comfortable” with the idea of giving up so much ownership to investors to get the cash he needed to start the business. He says he explored the idea of going a more traditional route using debt financing through banks, but that “wasn’t very attractive.”

Scott noticed an ad from Guidant while reading an email about businesses for sale and spent two weeks doing research on the 401(k) rollover concept. He says that in the end he was willing to risk losing his retirement savings in order to start his business, and he believes that’s the true test of how much an entrepreneur believes in his or her idea. He states, “If you don’t believe [in the idea] 100%, it’s going to be hard to convince anyone else to believe in it.”

Describing his Guidant experience, he says it “has been great.” He goes on to note, “It’s allowed me to start a business and have some operating capital without taking on crippling debt or suffocating investors.”

As for the difference between being someone’s employer and being self-employed, he says “When you own your own business, it’s all up to you. No one’s going to tell you what to do or how to do it—that’s the biggest blessing and challenge.”

In this spare time, he enjoys surfing, fishing, playing the guitar, basketball and even yoga. He claims that yoga helps him reduce anxiety by “letting go of that which does not serve me.” (By the way - he credits that mantra to his trusted yoga instructor, Nicole).

Up next for Wahoo is stabilizing the Infrastructure Contractor segment and then adding solutions for the Human Services niche.


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