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Sassa Akervall (CEO)
April 07, 2016

Small Companies, Small Problems - Big Companies, Bigger Problems


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When I think back at the time when my kids were little, when the doggies were puppies, even when I was a little girl - things seemed to be so straightforward, so simple, so… easy (well, this is a little exaggerated of course, because there is nothing simple about raising kids and dogs).

Starting a company is a lot like raising a child. You have no clue what you are doing, but somehow days come and go and your kid miraculously survives. You will figure out how to change those diapers, what the different screams and sounds mean, how to brush your teeth and change a load of laundry while not missing a beat on rocking that cradle. You just do it.

So if you have decided that you do want to start a company, that is what you do. You find a way to get it done, maybe not in the smartest and most efficient way, but nevertheless it gets done.

When we first launched on the market in May of 2009, I sat in front of my computer staring at a very modest site, built on GoDaddy’s platform. The feeling of pure joy when the first order came through is something I will never forget. Even if that first 7 months on the market landed us a mere 100-some orders, I was thrilled. I’m sure those of you that are even the slightest bit of entrepreneurial thinkers will recognize that it doesn’t take much for such a soul to thrive.

So running out of space at the kitchen table just meant that the basement would be our new home for the next couple of years. As we grew, we started to look for a more permanent solution, leading us to our present facility in the small and quaint town of Saline, MI. Here we have room to grow.  small business kitchen tableOr so we thought.

Back in the basement, we dealt with where to get the brochures printed in small enough batches, perhaps in the range of 2-300. Now we have to skim through proposals from printing companies in the range of  2-300,000 brochures.

In the the basement days, we piggy backed on our family’s internet service, electricity, phone etc. Now I’m getting heaps of bills every week including cable, phone, alarm, insurance, water, electricity, contractors. This is of course only to run the administrative parts of the business.

Needless to say, everything is much more complex - but also so much more rewarding. I say this because I have seen our customers rave about our products, unprompted. I have seen an Olympic silver medallion freestyle boarder give an interview with our mouthguard in her mouth - unsolicited! I have read customers emails thanking us for a superior product that has saved their teeth. The list goes on and on and on.

Sure, a small business has its advantages like less accountability, more freedom and much better sleep. Still, I wouldn’t want to miss out on the satisfaction in seeing the growth of this company creating both great products and almost 20 jobs here in Michigan. That was something I couldn’t imagine being a part of when the company kicked off on the kitchen table just seven short years ago.

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