Who is ProStrategix?

Brian Cairns' headshot

ProStrategix Consulting provides the guidance and business expertise needed to ensure that your small business has the best shot at achieving success and prosperity.

Your passion is your business, and our passion is business.

If you are like most small business owners, you probably started your business to follow a dream or passion, not because you were an expert in business. That’s what most people do, and it’s OK. However, sooner or later, running the business can start to interfere with that dream. It takes some of the joy out of what you do.

We’ve seen this first hand. It’s hard to see another small business owner struggle. Some are worried that they are on the not going to make it. Others are stuck, not sure what to do next. Then, there are those, who are starting to burn out. We started this business to make those issues go away. It’s incredibly satisfying when we see the relief on their face when we tell we have plan, it’s going to work, and we’re going to stick with you until it does.

Let’s face it, business isn’t easy. It can be stressful, worrisome, volatile and everything in between, but it doesn’t have to be this way, honestly. The stories below are proof of how small businesses can face their challenges and succeed. 

Small Business Success Stories

Examples of how other business overcame their challenges

Small Business Success Stories

Most of the issues that small business face cluster around 3 major areas: raising money, igniting or re-igniting sales, and managing growth. Let’s look at 3 people who faced one or more of these challenges

Ivan's Hangover

Needing Money When You Have Less Than Stellar Credit

Less than stellar credit image

Recovering From Having Less Than Stellar Credit

What do you need to do if you have less than stellar credit? If you would like the answer to that question keep reading. Every business has set backs. Each has to break free from their past in order to maximize its potential. This requires fixing past missteps and learning new skills.

We want to introduce you to Ivan.  This case is a good example of how to recover from set backs. In order to grow, Ivan needed to take a step back so he can move forward. He had to recover from a few early missteps and events outside his control.  This case outlines his journey.

Ivan's Story

“The business is doing fine and needs to expand, but banks keep turning me away. I’m frustrated and angry. I know that I didn’t always make the right decisions, but that was then. Why do I have to keep paying for it now?”

Ivan a boutique fitness studio that has been successful in recent years. To continue to grow, Ivan needed to expand beyond his current location. Ivan is a people person, who has a lot of friends and had a lot of fun. He wasn’t always careful with his credit, so he’d taken some hits. He got his current location from a friend, but when he came to us, he needed capital to grow. Banks weren’t willing to work with him, so he felt stuck and frustrated.

Many small businesses don’t realize that their personal credit can have a negative impact on their ability to get a business loan especially if they are new and do not  have sufficient assets to use as collateral. This was the issue that Ivan was facing.

How We Helped Ivan

The front of the tile describes the problem. Flip it to see the solution.

Personal Credit Matters

Ivan's case is all too common. Personal credit score impacts access to business capital for owners, an unfortunate truth in small business lending. Ivan wasn’t in terrible shape, but it was going to take a few years before he would be able to reach the magic 700 number. Why is personal credit such an important factor, even if the company has a good track record? It’s all about risk. Can the person be trusted to repay the debt.

Started Fixing His Credit

There are a number of things you can do to improve your credit score, but they all boil down to a few major themes: pay your bills on time, consistently and don't try to take on more personal debt until the old debt is paid down. This process takes time, between 6 to 12 months. Ivan need cash before then, but that didn't stop him from taking action now so he could show a positive trend.

Banks Were off the Table

Since Ivan didn't have a credit score that would be acceptable to major banks, he only hurt himself by applying. Each application will show up on your personal credit report. Banks will require credit check for anyone who owns more than a 20% interest in the company. These checks are hard pulls on your credit report. Hard pulls will lower your credit score.

Alternative Lending Was the Solution

Even if your small business has been denied a loan, you may still have a good chance of obtaining funding form alternative lending sources. These alternative sources of funding with less strict requirements. 54% of business with credit scores less than 700 are more likely to apply to an alternative lender, according to the Federal Reserve. Ivan was no different. The trade-off here is that while they accept these than stellar credit, the charge more in interest. They are usually don't the first choice, but they are not a bad choice if you have a rapidly growing business.

We Had to Make Tradeoffs

We needed to make some trade-off decisions so we could get the cash we needed at blended interest rate we could afford. We need to decide how much we could raise vs. how much was absolutely critical. Rent and labor were his two largest expenses. As such, we had to make some compromises. The first was to reduce the square footage he needed, and by doing so, it cut back on the labor costs as well.

Affordable Blended Rate

We got 1/2 the loan from an alternative lender. It was a steep APR of 17%. But, we could offset the impact of this rate through the peer to peer effort. We received 15% from 0% APR non-profit lender, and 35% from a 10% Peer-to-Peer group. The net rate was 12%, which near the upper end of the SBA range at that time. Ivan secured the loan and was able to expand.  He was able to grow at 50% over the time period, so he more than recouped the gain from the loan.
Was This Helpful?

More Stories Like Ivan's

Donna's Dilemma

Banker speak holds people back. No one likes to be confused. See how she overcame it.

of Small Businesses Struggle with Money

Art's Anchor

Art was struggling to get capital due to cash flow problems, and how we helped him get it

Dante's Inferno

How to Turnaround a Struggling Business

Tough Times. Business Turnaround

All business can hit some rough water sometimes. Even though it might not be smooth sailing right now, there’s usually a way to get to calmer waters achieve business turnaround.

There have been countless other businesses that have sailed these waters and found their way through.  We’d like you to meet one of them.  His name is Dante.

Dante's Story

“I started my business to follow my dream.  The business started out fine, but lately, we haven’t been doing that well. Sales are falling and bills are getting harder to pay. I’m spending so much time thinking about the business that it’s not as fun as it used to be.  I’m beginning to wonder if I made the right choice”

Dante owns a small upscale dining establishment in Manhattan. During his first few years, Dante has had great success with his restaurant. He had a good location. He had solid reviews. His cuisine was new, and the design of his restaurant was awesome.  However, during his second and third years of operation, that situation had changed.  He was losing money & customers.  He was having a tough time.

How We Helped Dante

Dante was referred to us.  When he came in, that initial picture had changed.  During his second year of operation, he noticed that he had more tables open than usual.  He thought he would change up the menu, spend some money on advertising, and push for more Yelp! And Google reviews.

The front of the tile describes the problem. Flip it to see the solution on how we helped Dante achieve business turnaround. 

Newness Wore Off

For his regulars, it was a comfortable routine. They didn’t mind if the service wasn’t the best. The loved Dante’s food and enjoyed the experience. For the reviewers, the loved the experience, but they felt that there wasn’t anything new. It was “been there, done that”. They were off to try new places to experience.

Satisfaction isn't Enough

If you've read a number of these cases, you'll see this a very common theme.If you only cater to you base you have no room to grow. And, that’s the first issue that was hurting Dante. People are driven by our emotions. The people who stayed were emotionally attached. Those who wanted a more varied experience were not. Unfortunately, his regular customers were not enough to keep the business afloat. He needed to drive more. We recommended that he keep the existing menu, but add either a creative special or a have a designate a themed day. This way he could keep his current customers while attracting new ones.

The Food Was Not Enough

The restaurant business is rife with turnover. It’s the nature of the game. Dante was a chef, not an HR manager so his hiring and screening practices were not consistent. Therefore, the servers he hired were inconsistent. This led to varying degrees of service and varying degrees of satisfaction. Dante’s food was excellent. So, the first time you go, you might forgive the service because the food was great. The second time it happens. You aren’t likely to come back..

The First Step: Getting Funds

We helped him to conduct a top-to-bottom review of his servers, outlining the specific expectations of the role. After secret dining a few nights, we had some immediate recommendations. Implement a consistent hiring process, plus institute a performance evaluation for servers at 1 mo., 3 mos., and 6 mos. to know if everything is remaining on the up-and-up. It's time consuming, but they were the face to the brand to the diner. If they underperformed, so did he.

Pricing Was Off

One of the most common mistakes that restaurants make is not accounting for overhead in the menu pricing. Dante was a master at knowing what was popular, and he knew the cost of his ingredients to the penny. What he didn’t factor in was the cost to prepare, serve, and the other fixed costs of the business. Why would he? After doing all the math, we found that a few of his most popular items were his least profitable.

Fixed the Menu Pricing Plus...

After showing Dante how to add the overheads, we helped change the pricing on a few of the menu items. We also trimmed spending a few other ways. We cut back a few hours, and cleared a few tables.Since his reviews were old, and he didn't have newer ones, we stopped advertising. Recency of the reviews is a key factor in Yelp! click-through. Instead, we offered discounts on the next order for Yelp and Google reviews.
Was This Helpful?

More Stories Like Dante's

Louis' Lagging Sales

 Sometimes we grow quickly. Sometimes we grow more slowly. The key is to determine if the current state is a temporary blip or if it is a warning sign.

of Small Businesses Negatively Affected by COVID

Jill's Slide

Even great businesses can hit a rough patch.  The trick is to catch it early before it becomes something bigger. 

Where to Go For More Help:

If you would like to learn more about what we do, how we work, and how we might be able to help you, please click below 

We’ve developed several free downloadable guides. Please take the Small Business Assessment to find the right one for you.

If you are seasoned pro or would like to try to take the do-it-yourself approach, please check out our free tools and templates.