Makers transform profitable hobby into sustainable business with help of mentor team
Almost by accident, Adam and Jamie Gatchel became business owners. When he wasn’t on the road as a touring musician, Adam was making lamps as a creative outlet, and soon their home was filled with custom designs. They decided to try selling their lamps online, and their first offering sold out in less than 45 minutes.
Adam continued making lamps, and Jamie started running the operations side while still working at a local nonprofit. “For the first few years, we were running in this reactionary model,” says Adam. “We were processing orders and serving people as best we could, but it wasn’t sustainable.”
After four years of running a profitable side hustle, Jamie and Adam decided to focus on Southern Lights Electric full-time.
“There were so many things we had to get in order,” says Jamie. “Sales and use tax, franchise and excise tax, renewing your business license – things they didn’t teach me when I got my business degree.”
After a bad experience with an accountant, the couple decided to take the business into their own hands. They initially came to Pathway Lending for financing, but enrolled instead in Pathway WBC’s six-month mentoring program – Ignite 360.
From profitable side hustle to sustainable business
Jamie credits Ignite 360 for helping them create the documents they’re now using to track production, monitor profitability and margins, and make major decisions. They also learned their way around QuickBooks and vetted more than two dozen accountants before hiring a new one.
“It used to be ‘we should make more money,’ but that’s where it started and stopped,” says Jamie. “Now we’ll say we want to make more money, this is why, and here are the goals we’re setting to get there. We’re way more efficient now, and as a small team, we don’t have time to waste.”
For Adam, taking their business through Ignite 360 shifted his entire attitude about being an entrepreneur.
“Now I devote more time to working on the business instead of in the business,” says Adam. “Ignite 360 was a shakeup program where all the biggest problems rose to the top. Now that we’re more stable, we’re looking at our quality of life, if we want to hire more employees, how much money we want to make, and these bigger, strategic questions that are so important for a sustainable business. We’re at the point where we can afford to be selective about who we work with and steering this ship where we want to go.”
“Ignite 360 was a gauntlet, but our business is stronger for it,” says Adam. “It’s super cool that there are all these people who actually care about our business. Pathway has become a huge source of energy for our us— we’re big fans.”
Learn more about Southern Lights Electric and see their incredible work at southernlightselectric.com.
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