When Chano Zavala asked his former boss for a raise and was denied, he decided to look for other options. He had a small family to take care of, and wanted to control his own destiny. He decided to save up his money and open his own business, Peninsula Party. They do balloon décor and have a full line of concession rentals and staging rentals. This is their story.
How we got started
I worked as product manager at SF Party. That is where I gained experience with balloons and rentals.
I had a growing family to take care of, and I didn’t want a limited income job.
Banks would not help me. I used all my life savings; I used all of my credit cards.
I took a small business loan of thirty thousand dollars. There is a nonprofit organization in San Jose (Opportunity Fund) that offers loans for community development. They review and change your business plan before you present it to the Small Business Association. They offer loans with flat 10% annual percentage rate, which does not change. Their loans are accessible.
I took a class at Renaissance Entrepreneurship in East Palo Alto. They also helped with my business plan.
Running the business
Time investment. You can become a slave to your own idea. It can be a 24/7 undertaking.
Money. You control what you make. If you want to make more money, you work more.
Freedom to make your own schedule is a big plus.
Also, helping others with employment.
The amount of money it takes to operate a business. Taking into account all the unexpected expenses.
It is challenging dealing with cash flow and assets, mostly because you have little to no control over them.
A walk in. I bought this small store front on January 2nd, 2005. It was an old customer looking for the previous store.
We use Google ads, Yahoo advertising, the online Yellow pages, and Yelp. We used to advertise in Parents magazine.
Word of mouth is how we claimed about fifty percent of our customers.
Having a solid brand name is very important.
Yes. We are planning on opening two new warehouses, and we are waiting on the third to become available.
Frustrating using the house if there are kids. They require one hundred percent of body and mind.
We had to lock the garage to not look at the work that we had to do.
What I’ve learned
You learn as you go. The first year, I learned specifics to my industry. I learned that in the rental business, you need lots of capital to start. A small inventory will drive away clients.
I would have saved more money. I would have borrowed less, so there would be less to pay back.
I would have taken more accounting classes. It was a NIGHTMARE to do accounting initially. We had to outsource to many different accountants because they would not prepare the reports that I wanted. I could have done it myself. Also, taking some more business administration classes would have been helpful.