“Starting a new business is a giant leap of faith, but you still need to plan,”
Todd Layne Ofsink, Founder,Todd Layne Cleaners
Todd Layne Ofsink was a project manager in New York City at McKinsey and Company, one of the top tier consulting firms in the world. He planned to leave McKinsey to start a finance-related business with his brother, but he didn’t find it as interesting as he wanted it to be – his “heart wasn’t in it.” What he did find interesting were the two vacant storefronts he walked past on 77th Street every day with a closed laundromat in one of them. “That’s a business that could use some change” and Todd thought he was just the person to do it. He was right! Todd broke even before the end of his first year, very unusual for someone with no background in a new business. Today, Todd Layne Cleaners is positioned as a “Customized Cleaning Solution for Laundry and Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaning,” on trend with the customization that customers have become accustomed to in the past decade.
Todd didn’t automatically decide to be in the laundry business – he planned. Through referrals, he visited other dry cleaners in other cities and observed them at work, camping out with them for a week at a time. He also stood in front of the empty laundromat and watched the foot traffic go by, noticing that people tend to travel on the street where they exit the subway. Luckily, 77th street, where Todd Layne Cleaners is located, turned out to be a high traffic street. He recommends that every founder take the time to learn as much as possible about their industry before jumping in.
Working at McKinsey gave him the confidence to go off on his own because it was such an entrepreneurial environment. But Todd said “No business school could possibly teach you everything you need to know, even though I tried to cover everything in my business plan. In the end, it really is an enormous leap of faith.”
If you are on the Upper East Side of New York City and want to try Todd’s customizable laundry and eco-friendly dry cleaning services, visit Toddlaynecleaners.com and use code “TLC blog” for $10 towards your first order. To help prepare for your leap of faith, check out our Startups by Grownups resource center for information on business planning and other information.
Come hear Todd in person at the Stage2Startups “Transition to Founder” event in New York City on October 22.To get your 25% event discount go to https://bit.ly/2IN43Nz
Jeff Wright also planned for his leap of faith when he left his senior level position at Bristol-Myers Squibb to become CEO of Urban Ministries, Inc., the largest independent African American Christian media firm.
Jeff always had an entrepreneurial mindset, once even considering starting his own airline. After 10 years leading business development at Bristol-Myers Squibb’s consumer divisions, Jeff was ready to make the leap but wasn’t sure yet what he wanted to do. Then he came across a videotape produced by Urban Ministries, Inc. On an impulse, he called the number on the box and met Dr. Melvin Banks, Sr. the founder of UMI.
Jeff liked the business immediately and soon joined the board while continuing his corporate career. This enabled Jeff to start learning the business and evaluate the potential for growth. After 5 years on the board, Dr. Banks asked Jeff to take over the business. Jeff knew this a high risk career move but he also knew from his years on the board that the company had a unique niche with solid distribution channels.
Jeff took the leap, quit his job and moved to Chicago. But he didn’t stop planning for success. While the founder continued to manage the company, Jeff spent a full year working every part of the business. When he finally did take over, Jeff ensured he had a strong group of advisors, including the founder, who Jeff asked to stay around because having someone around who knows the business is invaluable.
Jeff’s advice to future entrepreneurs is to be bold and trust the skills and abilities you acquired in your business career. But when you do take that leap of faith, be prepared.
To learn more about Jeff’s media company, visit www.urbanministries.com.
Copyright© 2019 Emelie Smith Calbick and Betty Wong