Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Veteran Owned Small Business Excels on $35 Budget

J’s Oil Supply & Accessories is a Veteran Owned Small Business, which was started in October of 2004 by Jerry ‘J.’ Higgins (USMC Veteran) as an Independent AMSOIL Dealer. I started this venture only after a few months of my Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps. I had been out of work since I was discharged in August of 2004 and had exhausted all of his savings trying to keep up on my bills, while living in the Washington, DC Metro area. With only about $100 left in the bank and thousands of miles from family, I had no choice but to move into my then girlfriends’ parents, which are now my in-laws, basement until I could get back on my feet.

I signed up as an Independent AMSOIL Dealer for annual fee of only $35. Once I received my start up kit and signed up for an e-mail address, I was able to start selling the products and my services. Of course, I was naïve and narrowed my market to a very select few group of people and refused to provide my services to anyone else, boy was I in trouble. After about a year of trying to sell AMSOIL to a very limited amount of customers, I spending more than what I was earning. With less than $60 to my name, I had to make the difficult decision and take in orders with payment being made up front.

Jerry 'J' Higgins (USMC/Veteran)

When asked why I started selling synthetic motor products, I always tell everyone “because I wanted to work for myself and had a hard time adjusting to civilian life. Plus I wanted to do something that I enjoyed doing, working with cars and getting dirty.”

After my realization of what I was doing wrong, partially wrong, I started opening up to other markets and I was bringing in a descent profit which allowed me start going to school at Northern Virginia Community College where I have been working part-time on my associates in Business Management. The best advice that I never received from anyone, is to openly advertise my business as a Veteran Owned Small Business, which was the second thing that I was doing wrong. I thought that I had made a mistake when I told a customer that I was a Veteran starting my own business, he signed up as a customer the next day and stated that he only signed up with me because I was a veteran. I didn’t think that other companies would prefer to work with Veteran Owned Businesses. That is when I realized that I needed to advertise as a Veteran Owned Small Business. I was partially informed that when a potential customer says no the first time around, keep checking in on them every now and then. I didn’t know that I should be stopping in every other day. So, don’t be over bearing or annoying and only stop in when you are in the neighborhood or if you haven’t spoken to them in awhile. Send out notices when new products or services become available. Just because you don’t have what they need or want at the moment, doesn’t mean that they won’t need it at a later date and the best way to ensure that they use your services, and not your competitors, is by you staying in constant contact with them and keeping them updated.

The hardest problem that I have had, since the Corps, is remembering that not everyone is a Marine and that I cannot treat everyone like a Marine. On January 01, 2010 I officially opened J’s Oil Supply & Accessories, where I specialize in helping over-the-road trucking and local commercial companies reduce the amount of time their trucks are in the shops and maximize their fleet’s fuel efficiency. I now offer my expertise to garages and dealerships that wish to increase their profits and lower their over-head costs and give advice to individuals that seek it. So, if you are in the DC area and see my Saturn VUE passing you buy, don’t hesitate to give me a wave or give me a call. I can be found on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/JsOilSupply) and LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/JsOilSupply).

To make my company more “successful” would be to branch out and add more products, such as that I have been successful at providing AGGRAND Natural Organic Liquid Fertilizers to landscaping customers and few private customers and ALTRUM Natural ‘Organic’ Vitamins to health facilities and vitamin shops that I have provided my other services to. Possibly to sponsor a little league sports team at the local recreational center or donate my services to a non-profit organization.

When asked if I would want to be acquired by bigger company or run it for a few years then sell, my answer will always be, “No, not in a million years. I would not want to by a bigger company nor would I sell mine in a couple of years because I am not out to get rich. I just want to work for myself and live a comfortable and happy life.

 

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