How I Purchased My Pals Enterprise For $2500 And Grew It To $100K/Yr –

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Hi there! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?

Hello! My identify is Larry McGee, and I personal an organization referred to as Aquatic Designs, Inc. I design, promote, set up, and preserve fish aquariums in eating places, hospitals, medical places of work, and some other enterprise possible. I service aquariums within the central Arkansas space and journey the state doing aquarium system restore at massive field pet shops.

I have been doing aquarium upkeep professionally since 1995 and have 60+ aquariums that I preserve each month. I common round $100,000 per 12 months in complete gross sales.


Triple 200 Gallon Aquariums in a Restaurant/See behind the wall of those tanks

What’s your backstory and the way did you give you the thought?

I want I might take credit score for arising with the thought, however I am unable to! I had a good friend that began the enterprise virtually 30 years in the past and to be trustworthy, I do not even know the place he got here up with the thought.

We had been each working at a Walmart retailer again within the mid-’90s and had every simply ventured into the tropical fish interest. He began the enterprise in 1994 and I might assist him out once in a while, cleansing aquariums throughout my lunch break.

After a 12 months or so, he needed to transfer out of city so I purchased the fledgling enterprise for $2500 and ran it in my spare time. We had round 5 small accounts again then and solely made a few hundred {dollars} monthly.

I had at all times wished my very own enterprise however did not know what that even appeared like. I graduated school with a BS in Advertising however had no actual entrepreneurial coaching.

I did not even know the potential of this enterprise again then. I simply performed round with it to gas my tropical fish interest. It took me EIGHT years earlier than I noticed that I might make residing sustaining aquarium, professionally.

The web was only a novelty again then so there was nowhere to discover ways to develop this enterprise correctly. It took years of trial and error to lastly get it found out however I’ve now been doing it full time for the previous 20 years.

Over the past ten years, I’ve been on-line finding out enterprise to assist develop my upkeep firm and see if there have been different revenue streams I might add to it. As I learn and listened to totally different enterprise leaders, I might come throughout totally different traits of a fascinating enterprise. Every time I discovered about them, I discovered that my enterprise already had a few of them, corresponding to repeat prospects, low stress, and charging on a undertaking foundation as an alternative of buying and selling a greenback per hour.

It has been enterprise and pulled me out of a dead-end job, making round $12 per hour whereas elevating a household. It additionally gave me quite a lot of time and freedom that I obtained to spend with my household, particularly when my children had been rising up, plus it gave me the satisfaction that comes with proudly owning your individual enterprise.


375 Gallon Aquarium within the PICU ready room at a Kids’s Hospital

Take us by the method of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

The method of buying a buyer normally begins with a telephone name or electronic mail from a potential shopper. I’ll go to their enterprise to take a look at the world the place they want to set up an aquarium and can ask inquiries to get a really feel of what they need. I’ll present recommendation and can give you a few designs that can complement their decor.

It should both be a smaller setup that I should buy at a neighborhood pet retailer or a bigger system that have to be custom-made by an aquarium producer. Whereas many of the aquariums I set up and preserve are within the 50-300 gallon vary, I’ve had just a few that had been over one thousand gallons.

Discover good individuals to be taught from, make a plan and do it. Nobody goes to do it for you.

I had a 4000-gallon tunnel aquarium that you just walked beneath to view. It was in a catfish restaurant in Little Rock, AR, with over $250,000 price of aquariums. I must placed on a dive pores and skin and snorkel to do upkeep. Sadly, the restaurant went out of enterprise.


4000 Gallon Tunnel Aquarium in a Restaurant/See Extra Pics from thisRestaurant

Since launch, what has labored to draw and retain prospects?

This can be a area of interest native service enterprise. Most individuals aren’t satisfied they want an aquarium of their enterprise. They normally have the thought on their very own. I attempt to get my identify on the market and allow them to know I am right here to assist at any time when they’re prepared.

My fundamental supply of consumers is now my web site. It was the Yellow Pages which can let you know how lengthy I’ve been round!

I take advantage of quite a lot of photos on my web site of my totally different aquarium accounts and attempt to preserve the message private. There’s not quite a lot of competitors in my area of interest so rating will not be an issue.

I sometimes mail letters to potential purchasers whose genres are traditionally good prospects, corresponding to medical places of work, retirement facilities, and nursing properties. Once more, I attempt to preserve it on a private stage to allow them to know that I am only a native, actual particular person offering a service.

Do not get to the tip of your life questioning “what if…”. Simply do it.

I’ve tried Fb adverts however it’s actually tough to get in entrance of the individuals who make these choices, corresponding to enterprise house owners and managers. It isn’t cost-effective for me.

I’ll not get quite a lot of constant new enterprise, however what’s golden in regards to the prospects I do get is that they have an inclination to stay round for a very long time. I’ve a number of prospects who’ve been round for 15-20 years and one that’s nonetheless a buyer after 25 years. They had been one of many first prospects that I despatched a letter to once I repurchased the enterprise in 1995. That one buyer has introduced in over $50,000 and the price of acquisition was paper, an envelope, and a stamp. My largest account, which is a Kids’s Hospital, has introduced in virtually $300,000 over the previous 20 years with near a 90% revenue margin. My prospects pay me to wash their aquariums every month, so it’s a regular, predictable revenue.

Enterprise house owners and managers are busy individuals, so I believe they worth glorious service over worth. I attempt to present that service, so they do not really feel the necessity to store round.


125 Gallon Aquarium in a Restaurant

How are you doing at the moment and what does the longer term seem like?

So far as my enterprise at the moment, I am simply on autopilot with my upkeep enterprise. I like my steadiness of revenue and break day. I do not actively search out new prospects however take them as they arrive from my web site.

I’m dabbling with on-line advertising and have created an internet course on the way to begin your individual Aquarium Upkeep Enterprise. I’ve just a few college students and am at present engaged on advertising for that course.

I additionally wrote a ebook 20+ years in the past on the way to preserve your aquarium and have since turned it right into a digital model. Yow will discover it on the hyperlink above as effectively.

I additionally subcontract with a few nationwide firms the place I do retail aquarium system consulting and restore work for my state’s big-box pet shops. That additionally offers a pleasant aspect revenue for my enterprise.


75 Gallon Aquarium System in a Medical Ready Room

By way of beginning the enterprise, have you ever discovered something significantly useful or advantageous?

Wanting again on the previous 25+ years, I notice simply how fortunate I used to be. I knew completely nothing about proudly owning a enterprise. I simply occurred to fall into one which was straightforward to function, had repeat prospects, high-profit margins, and I might function myself.

I selected to not rent workers, however that’s simply my desire. One might in all probability scale the enterprise extra in the event that they did, however I do not wish to go that route.

I’ve additionally discovered that it is okay to say ‘No’ to work that you do not wish to do. Generally cash will not be well worth the stress that it might carry. I select to maintain the purchasers who’re prepared to maintain paying me month after month (with out drama) whereas eliminating those that do not. This enterprise could be low stress if operated appropriately.


90 Gallon Aquarium System within the Preschool space of a Church

What platform/instruments do you utilize for your enterprise?

The enterprise instruments I take advantage of are easy. I take advantage of QuickBooks for invoicing & accounting and WordPress for my web site, which I handle myself.

I in all probability have lower than $1000 in bodily tools and provides. I additionally work out of my home and car, which makes my overhead extraordinarily low.


125 Gallon Aquarium System in a Pediatric Dentist Ready Room

What have been essentially the most influential books, podcasts, or different sources?

The enterprise leaders which were essentially the most influential over the previous few years embody:

And numerous different books, podcasts, and blogs coping with an internet enterprise.


250 Gallon Aquarium in a Hospital

Recommendation for different entrepreneurs who wish to get began or are simply beginning out?

Do not get to the tip of your life questioning, “what if…”.

Simply do it.

Discover good individuals to be taught from, make a plan and do it.

Nobody goes to do it for you.


55 Gallon Aquarium System in a Medical Ready Room

The place can we go to be taught extra?

Yow will discover my aquarium enterprise weblog and course.

My native aquarium upkeep enterprise web site.

Comply with my day-to-day adventures as a fish man on Instagram.

Or see extra behind the scenes of aquarium methods.


300 Gallon Aquarium System in a Pediatric Medical Workplace

Ending thought:

There won’t have been so much that you just’ve discovered from this enterprise, corresponding to snazzy on-line apps, inventive financing, or slick advertising techniques, however that’s the great thing about this enterprise.

It’s simply…easy.

-Larry McGee

Aquatic Designs, Inc.


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Larry McGee,
Founding father of Aquatic Designs, Inc.

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