Ever wonder how successful businesses get started? Do they start with a structured business plan and stick to it or do they evolve over time? BusinessNewsDaily asks small businesses to take us behind the scenes and reveal the truth about the struggles of starting and running a small business.
Josh Neblett turned a college project into a successful business. Four years later that business, GreenCupboards, offers more than 15,000 eco-friendly products online. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with Neblett about the inspiration for his business, the business plan he followed and his advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
BusinessNewsDaily: Please tell us on a simple paragraph or sentence what your business does.
Josh Neblett: GreenCupboards is an e-tailer of certified organic, fair trade, cruelty free and environmentally friendly products and foods for low-impact and healthy living. We’re a mish-mash of vegans, athletes, tech gurus, and gluten intolerant shoppers on a mission to create the most extensive, yet easy-to-use website for an eco-friendly lifestyle. Headquartered in Spokane, Washington, we work with more than 600 suppliers.
BND: How long have you been in business?
JN: The idea for GreenCupboards was born out of a college homework assignment in the spring of 2008. We incorporated that May and launched the website later that fall.
BND: Did you have a formal business plan or did your business just evolve naturally?
JN: GreenCupboards started out as a business plan. When I was a senior at Gonzaga University, I created a business plan for a website that sold environmentally friendly products. We entered the project in a regional business plan competition and won. That was the momentum we needed to get going and we haven't looked back since.
BND: How close has your business stayed to what you originally envisioned it to be?
JN: We originally sold bundles of products. For example, we sold a bundle of cleaning supplies you'd find in your kitchen cupboard. Eventually we realized customers liked to pick and choose what they put in their home so we stopped selling bundles and sold individual products.
BND: How did you finance the business at the beginning or at any time you were in business?
JN: We are definitely boot strappers at GreenCupboards. We did some fundraising at the beginning and received a total of $288,000.
BND: How much did you invest?
JN: I invested the winnings from the business plan competition and a bit from my savings, more meaningfully I’ve invested more than 70 hours a week for the past four years.
BND: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently when starting your business?
JN: Hindsight is always 20/20 and if I knew what I did today back then we certainly could have avoided some sleepless nights in the early days trying to get the business model to be sustainable. However, those mistakes made were vital to our growth and understanding of ecommerce.
BND: What's your best advice for someone with a great business idea who wants to give it a shot?
JN:Now is the time, watch every nickel and don’t underestimate the value of surrounding yourself with advisors/mentors that have scars on their back and relevant successes under their belt.