Kona Impact is proud to be celebrating our tenth year in business. We started when the economy was robust in Kona, Hawaii, and then we soon suffered a recession that devastated our real estate, construction and tourism sectors. Those bad times are behind our community now, but not forgotten.
We’ve learned a lot over the years; we would not be here had we not. We’ve seen 100+ businesses come and go in Kona. We’re seen small startups become big and big business evolve and change to get even bigger. One thing is certain: in 10 years of business we’ve seen it all, including a strong earthquake and a tsunami!
Here sre five things we’ve learned:
- Start with twice as much money as you project you’ll need. I’ve seen many business that have great ideas, but they soon run out of capital and have to shut their doors before they reach a point of sustainability. I don’t think Kona Impact would be here today if we didn’t have sufficient reserves to make it through early years.
- Pick low hanging fruit, but keep your eyes on the higher-hanging fruit. We have always welcomed clients that may only make us $25 on a project, but we also know these small, low profit projects are not going to pay a lot of bills. Over the years, we have developed products and processes to help us identify and attract large businesses. They are harder to get, but they are essential to the long-term growth and stability of our business.
- The market is always speaking; listen to it. We like to tell entrepreneurs who seem to have a revolutionary idea: you are either a genius or an idiot. By that I mean, either you have figured something out that nobody before you has figured out, or you have solved a problem that doesn’t exist. Prolonged poor results are telling you something. Listen.
- Low price and high quality are incompatible. Customers want both. You need to convince them that they want high quality and reasonable prices.
- No business is an island. I see a lot of new businesses in Kona that suffer a rather quick demise. One thing I have seen common to these quick failures is that they have almost no community connections. They don’t buy locally. We don’t see the owners in our paddling and Rotary and Lions clubs. We don’t see them sponsoring fundraisers or donating to local non-profits. We don’t meet the owners at our places of worship. They don’t volunteer. They are ghosts to people who live here. The consequence is that we don’t visit their businesses and they soon perish. My advice: get as many of your supplies and services from local vendors; join a church; join a Rotary club (there are three in Kona); paddle; contribute products or services to non-profit fundraiser; get involved!
One more thing we tell clients: if we had all the answers, we’d be on our yacht today enjoying a cold drink. The above are just some ideas and worth at least what you are paying for them!
One new client of Kona Impact is Hawaii Mold and Flood. We were excited to work with them as they truly offer a range of services unsurpassed by their competitors. We all see the franchise mold remediation businesses around town, but few people know that they are extremely limited in what they do. Hawaii Mold and Flood is different.
Hawaii Mold and Flood
We used to think that the national water damage franchises offered complete solutions for water damage, mold testing and repairs, but they don’t. Kona Impact found out the hard way.
When our old office had extensive water damage, the mold remediation company came in, tore out the walls, did their thing, and left. We spent two weeks waiting for the repair people to come in and fix the walls and flooring. We never did receive a mold report. That was very stressful and costly for us as a business.
If we had known of Hawaii Mold and Flood at that time, we would have made one call and received the following services from them:
- Mold testing, which would have been done on the spot with their Instascope Mold Detection Machine. We would have known the results immediately, instead of waiting for a sample to be sent to a lab, with two weeks to get results.
- Water damage removal. All the water damage we had would have been taken care of.
- Then, Hawaii Mold and Flood would have repaired our premises. No waiting for a separate construction/repair team.
We would have had everything done by one company: from mold testing to clean up to repairs. This, of course, saves the property owner and tenants considerable stress, hassle and time.
We hope that our clients and people in Kona, Hawaii never have flood or mold issues, but if you do, make your first call to Hawaii Mold and Flood: 808-345-2221
The Ironman World Championships are always a great time in Kona, Hawaii. The athletes, their families and the companies add a vibrancy and level of passion to Kona that make it one of the most exciting places in the world. It’s a great time.
Kona Impact has been providing displays, banners, posters and printing services for many of the companies that come here for years. We certainly appreciate the work, and we enjoy working with companies from all over the world as they set up and operate their booths and retail locations.
This year we would like to give something extra to the companies that get their printing and sign jobs to us early. This will allow us to plan our resources better and will ensure that the all the print and signs are done when they arrive.
We like to say that getting your jobs in early means you will have one less thing to worry about! We take a photo of all completed projects and send them to the client, so that then can rest assured everything is done to a high standard of quality.
So, for all orders over $250 placed for Ironman before 16 September, we will give you some custom bling from Kona Impact and a gift certificate for a lunch at one of our favorite Kona restaurants: Lava Java or Huggo’s. Both are on Alii Drive and close to all the Ironman action.
If you place your order between 17 and 23 September, we’ll give you a gift certificate for a few cups of coffee or a smoothie.
We welcome orders for Ironman event printing, signs, banner, poster and vehicle graphics at any time time. We even have been known to deliver products on the night before, the day of and the day after Ironman. If you have a last-minute need, give us a call; we can probably help.
74-5599 Luhia St, E-7
Kona Impact will soon celebrate its tenth year of business in Kailua-Kona. I remember very well the early days when the phone did not seem to ring very much, and we were not as focused as we are now. It took some time, but it was great to beat the odds: 50% of businesses don’t make five years, and according to this article, 96% don’t make it ten years.
So, we’ve obviously learned a thing or two over the years.
Here are five decisions we made that, I feel, were critical to our success:
- We kept expenses low at the beginning. A lot of new businesses look for prime office or retail space and spend a lot of money on newspaper advertising. We didn’t. Our first office space is now affectionately called “the dungeon” as it was a small, windowless space in a fairly run-down building. We spent almost nothing on print advertising and nothing on radio or television. This allowed us to have the resources to weather the inevitable financial storms we faced.
- We have done spectacularly well online. Even ten years ago, we knew that the best, most cost-effective place to be found was online. Over half of our initial clients came to us after finding us through online searches, and to this day, a large percentage of our new clients come to us through search (with the other biggest percentage coming through referrals).
- We knew when to throw in the towel. We had five pillars of our business when we started, and within a year, it was evident that two of these pillars were not working out. The demand was just not there, and, truth be told, there were other businesses in town more established and better at these things than us. We quickly stopped offering these services, cut our losses, and focused on what we were really good at. Failure was a great teacher!
- We identified inefficiencies in the market. After trying many times to buy local and support our local businesses, we gave up trying to send clients to some providers in town. Their customer service, products, and quality were horrible, so we saw an opportunity. Growing into the general printing, wide-format printing and signage businesses made a lot of sense, since we were already doing the design work. They were mostly unimaginable when we started; now they are a big part of our product mix.
- We have been active in the community. Kona is a small town, one that relies a lot of word-of-mouth marketing. For me, one of the best business (and personal) moves I made was joining the Rotary Club of Kona. Each week we have lunch and an outside speaker gives a presentation. The presenters are mostly community leaders, and their presentations are great ways to know what is happening in Kona and the issues facing our community. Another part of Rotary is the awesome community service projects we do like vision testing for our Keiki, building parks, planting trees, and fundraising. The connections in Rotary have not only provided me some business but also helped me meet some simply wonderful human beings. I highly recommend any entrepreneur at any stage of his or her business to focus on face-to-face connections in a service organization, a church, a sports team or any group of like-minded people.
Like any business, there are hundreds of decisions that we have made that have got us where we are. Some, have been disastrous, and others have been helped Kona Impact prosper.