Hi, this is Scott and welcome to grow smarter. Today on our show, I’m joined by Peter Klamka, a serial entrepreneur who has started, bought, sold and failed at a variety of businesses over the past 20 years. You may know him from his cryptocurrency days with the MORE coin or the famous restaurant, the blind pig on the Las Vegas Strip. Today he’ll share how to make a smart pivot. So stick around
SCOTT: So Peter, could you please tell me about some of your experiences with raising money?
Peter Klamka: 1:33
Raising money can be the easiest thing in the world. It can be the most difficult thing in the world and usually it’s somewhere in between. The best place to raise money is usually from your own pocket. But if the pockets not available, I’ve raised money in private placements with friends and family. I’ve taken companies public, I’ve done cryptocurrency ICOs, so I’ve just seen a lot of different ways and vehicles to raise money. And it just depends on the situation. It depends on your need short and long term. But if somebody wants to write you a check, I’m usually in the the mindset for an entrepreneur or startup. You should take the check. the good the bad news? Yes, yes. It’s the old saying about, you know, no one likes how to see how sausage is made, but everyone likes to, to eat it. It’s the same with raising money.
Exactly. Can you share some insights on growing a business?
Peter Klamka 2:36
growing a business, I like to always when I start out, I want to have the exit in mind. And because if you don’t have the exit in mind, then you’re gonna fall in love with it. And some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is not hitting the bid, not hitting the sell button when somebody shows up and says, I want to buy the business. So you’re starting out and you have a your laptop coffee and a legal pad. And that’s the start of your business, you should always put the end when you start out in the beginning. Now today growing a business, it depends. Social media runs everything. And, and that’s really where growing a business where a business should, should focus on, but it depends on the type of it really depends on the type of business. I’m assuming you’re talking about a consumer facing business, retail or some type of services, things like that.
Right, like the B2C verticals for instance.
Peter Klamka 3:36
Sure. A b2c play
is run by Instagram influencers these days, it’s run by giving away free product to somebody to a kid with 40,000 followers or a million YouTube subscribers. That’s who runs the world now.
Kind of a digression. It’s almost borderline sad.
Peter Klamka 4:00
That’s just look, you know, the guy who started out selling typewriters who said, This fax machines never going to take over and the fax machine guy who said, Hey, this, this email stuff is never going to go away. Who knows where they went, I had a very good friend was a little older than I am, who was in the video tape duplication business, and he swore that these CDs were never going to replace old fashioned VHS tapes. You know, you the times change the markets unforgiving and if your hand isn’t near the pulse, you’ll be left behind.
Exactly. So if you were able to go back in time to say 20 years, what type of advice would you give to your younger self as a budding entrepreneur?
Peter Klamka 4:50
Um, so the key with using influencers using social media using places like that is you have to be able to to quantify The value. So we are businesses in cryptocurrency in the restaurant business. We actually start out very conservative, very small, free dinners, free tables at an events, things like that to see what impact if any, the influential hap some of them are great. Some of them are awful. You know, we’ve written checks and the influencer disappear. We’ve written checks and the influencer said, Oh, the event was postponed. So we take a very just because somebody’s got, you know, 500,000 followers, a million followers, 10,000 followers, doesn’t matter. You really need to make sure especially when you’re starting out that you can see some quantifiable results and that takes time. takes a week, takes a month sometimes takes two months.
Totally agree. We definitely have to do our due diligence these days.
Peter Klamka 6:00
Now my friend has 35,000 followers. He’s a local Las Vegas legend. He and I are partners in a few businesses. And his list is responsive. He posts a, a, an event, he posts a video and he gets an insane response. So it all depends on the quality. He doesn’t have 3 million followers. He’s got 35,000. But he gets a huge bang for the buck. So that’s another thing to keep in mind. You’re better off than somebody who has 10,000 rabid fans than somebody who bought a million followers and they’re all in Pakistan.
Peter Klamka 6:40
And I have fallen victim to that. Oh, I have a million followers. Oh, I have this many YouTube. viewers. Okay, here’s $1,000. Here’s $2,000. Here’s $3,000. It doesn’t work.
So, as a business owner for 20 plus years, I’m sure that you’ve had your fair share of hiring and firing of employees care to share any stories or experiences?
Peter Klamka 7:10
I have many horror stories and positive stories about hiring and firing for sure.
I’d love to hear a couple.
Peter Klamka 7:21
Well, in the restaurant business, my previous manager kept saying, Oh, we don’t need to start breakfast so early. We don’t need to start breakfast so early. And I eventually found out that he was running his own online catering business with one of the employees and my inventory. And the reason why he didn’t want to start breakfast so early was because he was using that time to prepare all the catering meals, which he would then go deliver and collect the money directly. Double Dipper Yes, yes. And it finally took me after. And we’ve had you know, then just we have bartenders who serve their friends and don’t pay, you have all kinds of.. I mean we’re in Las Vegas. And Las Vegas brings a very transitory workforce and everybody looking for the next thing that ship to jump off or to jump on. And so you really have to in a big city like ours, you really have to focus on quality and you really have to referrals are a better way friends or a better way roommates or a better way. You know, job listing posting, sometimes we’re okay, but sometimes just brings you nightmares.
Right? I totally understand i’ve had my dealings with that over the years to as a business owner.
Peter Klamka 8:52
and there’s really no way, resumes can be faked. You don’t have all day to check them. Couple of good references can be their cousin, and that sounds good So the old saying about hire quick and fire quicker is not a bad strategy.
Scott: It’s a great model these days. So with the marketing and PR experience you have, what would you recommend to an up and coming entrepreneur to start with?
Peter: You can live and die by free PR. And that’s the way so, you know, the world expects everything for free. And I think that some of the biggest, biggest and best opportunities are on the local level, local news, local blogs, local, Twitter, local radio, that still draws I think that and that’s free. You know, there are so many opportunities to do local PR and when it’s when it goes when a local station publishes a story about you. It shows up on Google the same as if it was the Associated Press and for business that’s building, you just want to have as many precedents as you possibly can. And over time, depending on your story that will get picked up, it will get picked up by bigger blogs, it will get picked up by bigger podcasts, it will get picked up by bigger media. So I think that be happy if it is the school newspaper that writes a positive review about your restaurant and posts it
for sure. There’s definitely something to starting where you are.
Peter Klamka 10:28
And I was previously married to a journalist and they love free stuff, send them over some free cookies, send them over a free gift certificate, but they’ll be right over. Yeah.
Haha yeah that’s funny but so viable.
Peter Klamka 10:44
And it’s far cheaper and far more effective than if you go post an ad somewhere. Which again, no way to quantify may or may not work. And the other thing that’s worked for me on small and large scales, build a mailing list, a simple email list. Esper cards as per website, signups we will give away a free drain for a cheaper email list. And that builds, I mean, and then we use it for discounts. We use it for events, we use it for just different things. And that’s the cheapest way to go. It’s not
funny how some of that old school stuff still works.
Peter Klamka 11:20
Simple email list. And for example, in the restaurant we have, we’re showing a pay per view of the UFC. We show that all the time. The best way for us is we will just send out an email and take reservations. So we know half the restaurants committed three quarters of the restaurant committed and then we can move on as opposed to just guessing and we open the door on Saturday afternoon.
Scott: Oh, yeah,
that’s smart. Pre booking, pre selling…
Peter Klamka 11:47
pre booking, pre selling give away something for free, a free drink a free soda, free appetizer and, and pricing competitively. But an email list is cheap, cheap to maintain. cheap to start. And as long as you don’t abuse it by sending out emails every day, it will be a huge source of customers.
Speaking of that, what would you suggest the maximum amount of emails to send out per week?
Peter Klamka 12:18
So in one of my businesses, I have a membership club, a cryptocurrency based membership club called more, and we send out an email once a week to our 1500 members, and we will tell them what’s going on in our Las Vegas location, our Los Angeles location, merchandise opportunities, events that are coming up, and that’s once a week. there if there are special events or special opportunities will break the once a week strategy for the restaurant. It depends for holiday time will send out three, four special events things in the restaurant business will do more Because people eat every day, and you know, people are coming for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And so we’ll have a dinner special and send out an email, we’ll have a lunch special and send out an email, we’ll have a wine tasting and send out an email. And there hasn’t been much pushback or unsubscribe. But that’s a local audience that’s committed and that our fans, they want to hear from you. And our cryptocurrency business. They’re a little bit they’re a little busier, a little more educated and they like that once a week, bite size, keep in touch with the club.
Peter, can you tell me with all the businesses you’ve had over the years, How do you not get stuck? What’s the sign, the signal to move on, to cut away?
Peter Klamka 13:49
that depends on where you are in your initial plan. So if no one’s coming in the door, no one your product and your there’s no more money left in the bank account might be time to close the door. Don’t take on personal debt, don’t borrow from your grandma there might be time to move on. And moving on sometimes is the absolute best thing moving on sometimes leads you to significantly greater, greater opportunities. And then other times, you might just have the wrong product you might just have, it might just be a timing thing. So some of that is you’ve got to assess where you are in the in the market. And some of it is the old story about you’re an inch away from your your success. And so, stay on an extra month, borrow the extra little bit of money, but you’ve got to kind of get a feel for okay and get advice. Go find somebody smarter than you go find somebody older than you. There’s plenty of older people, plenty of successful people that will be happy to tell you why how they did it and how to Smart they must be and what you might do to fix it. There’s some problems you can’t fix. I had a business that was in the wrong location. You can’t fix the bad location. You can fix bad employees. You can tweak your product, you can tweak your menu, you can tweak your product, your offerings, but if your location is bad, or your product is outdated, or the idea just didn’t work, time to go.
Absolutely. I could not agree more with that. So Peter, I understand that you currently have some new businesses that you’re working on. Correct?
Peter Klamka 15:36
Correct. So I have my membership club. I own a restaurant in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip. And I have a company called cordia kitchens, which we have started to provide coast kitchen services to busy restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, aspiring entrepreneurs that want to open their own restaurant that don’t want to talk about don’t Want to go raise a million dollars, which is basically what it would cost to own it. And brands that are interested in getting into the restaurant business as a way to either they have a strong brand and they’d like to expand this through food licensing, or it’s it’s a interesting concept that ties in with their other business as a way to engage with their fan base.
Peter, that’s pretty ambitious. So if our listeners, and I’m sure they’re more than interested in checking you out, how can they find you?
Peter Klamka 16:36
So the easiest way to find us is through our website, which is cordiakitchens.com You can find us if you’re interested in the cryptocurrency business, it is MOREcoin on Instagram, and get More coin on Twitter.
Well, that’s all for today’s episode of grow smarter. Thanks for listening and thank you to Peter Klamka for joining me today and sharing his tips to grow your business smarter. Join us again next week when we talk about movies and marketing with Jeff sass, aka the Toxic Avenger. Make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify, so you never miss an episode.
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