Temoer Terry is the owner of Pure Remy, a company that distributes hair extensions through a distributor platform. The company provides everything from shipping to websites to customer service so hairstylists and beauty entrepreneurs can build a successful business selling hair extensions to their clients. Terry says he owes the company’s success to being frugal about overhead and focusing all extra funds on marketing to grow revenue. Here’s his story, as told to Nav.
Becoming an Entrepreneur
I went to college at the University of Nebraska. When I graduated, I went into the insurance business. In the insurance business, you’re really self-employed—I call it “eat what you kill.” I wound up writing insurance on some clients and we formed a partnership and ended up building a CRM platform for insurance agents. I sold what I had of that company and ran a logistics business for about three years. My partner and I split on that, so I was looking for something else to do.
My thought was that I was going to go to China and look around, find some products, build some websites, and do some drop shipping around the world. I was talking to a friend of mine before I left for China.
He said, “Hey, T, you should think about lace wigs.” In my mind at the time, I was like, “What in the world is a lace wig and why would I care?!” His wife was sitting there, and she said, “If you understood how much money I spend on hair, you would never say that.”
I started doing some research and realized how big the market was. It just went from there. I kind of bumped into it, and it took me down a path.
Funding the Business
I self-funded some of my business with some partners that we had. Then we went out and raised some debt from friends and family, which we paid back.
When you’re a small business, it’s really hard to get business credit. It sounds good, but honestly, most of the stuff you’re going to have to personally guarantee. They may put it in your business’ name, but at the end of the day, you’re the one they’re coming after.
The Challenges of Running a Business
The most challenging thing about running a business is being frugal about cash flow. There are so many opportunities that come at you. Some of them seem good, but you have to be disciplined about having a plan, having a goal, and staying laser-focused on that. If all of these opportunities don’t play into that final goal, you just have to shut them off, I don’t care how great they sound.
Also, hiring is difficult. A lot of times, you think you can do everything yourself. Technically, you can, because you know how to run all aspects of your business. But you need to realize that you can’t get anywhere if you do everything yourself. You have to take some of that money and hire somebody so you can get farther faster.
Managing Cash Flow
I look at every single thing that we spend. I focus all of the extra money that comes in on marketing. I’m a big believer that once you start a fire, you have to pour gas on it. That fire might go out unless you’re constantly feeding it.
I take a very minimal amount of money myself and I pay my employees, because I know they’re more important than I am. Everything else goes into generating more capital. I learned a long time ago that revenue can solve a lot of problems. As long as you have money coming in, a lot of things will continue to run as long as you pay for them!
In terms of trade credit, I’ve been very blessed that we have a couple of great partners that we work with. They give me terms. They’re not very long, like 30-, 60-, or 90-days, but I do get a small amount of time that I get to sell the product, get the revenue, and then pay for it.
A lot of what we do is online, so people pay with a credit card and we don’t get that money right away. It’s very hard because if a sale is made on Monday, I’m not going to see that money until Wednesday. If I have to pay for the hair on Monday, I have a problem. So, it’s been a huge blessing that our suppliers give us a few days to receive our money and then pay.
The Biggest Mistake
I’m still making mistakes! Probably the biggest mistake I made was thinking that certain marketing was a one-hit-wonder. When we first started, we put a bunch of money into people with big YouTube followings thinking that if they did a couple of videos for us, this thing would go viral and we would be rich.
It’s just never that easy. You have to have a coordinated plan, a strategy, and really understand that everything put together is what’s going to give you the home run, it’s not this one thing that you throw out there that’s going to instantly go viral. Does it happen sometimes and people get lucky? Yeah. But, nine times out of 10, that’s just not the way it works.
The Smartest Decision
I kept debt low. I attribute that to having good parents. My dad wouldn’t allow me to get a credit card in college. One of the things he told me, which I still think about, is that it doesn’t matter how bad things get, if you don’t owe a lot of people money, it’s never that bad. Most people get in trouble because they get a dip in their income, but it’s not just that, it’s a problem when you owe a lot of people money on top of that. So I’ve always tried to keep my overhead low, so it can never get that bad.
The Most Rewarding Thing
Freedom, without a doubt. I’ve always said since I left school that I would take a major pay cut to be able to control my time. I’m just not the kind of guy who can sit there and listen to people tell me when I have to go to work, when I have to clock out, and I only have this many weeks of vacation. That’s just not me. Even though I’m busier than most any employee is ever going to be, at the end of the day, I control my time.
In our business, one of the things we’re big believers in is that if you create an opportunity for other people to make money, you make money in the process. We’ve done a really good job of creating a platform that makes it very easy and affordable for other people to go out and make money in the hair business. It’s starting to really catch on. People are getting it. We’ve started to reel people in left and right. We’ll probably triple our distributor base this year.
Advice for Someone Starting a Business
As much as you can, fund it yourself. Though, I think it’s wrong to put you and your family in a hole without any kind of safety net. Be realistic and understand how far you can go. Don’t throw everything on the line. Keep your overhead low and pour any extra money you get into marketing, because the more you build that revenue, it will solve a lot of problems down the road.
More answers to pressing questions
This article was originally written on November 4, 2016 and updated on January 31, 2021.