Million Dollar Monday

Blueprint for Your Business: Part 1 with Terry Brizz

August 02, 2021 Greg Muzzillo /Terry Brizz
Million Dollar Monday
Blueprint for Your Business: Part 1 with Terry Brizz
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

“You have to have a good business plan. A business plan is like a blueprint. If you go to start a house, what are you going to do? You're not just going to buy a bunch of lumber, buy a bunch of bricks, dig a big hole – you need to have a plan. And this plan is your blueprint,” shares Terry Brizz. Tune in to Million Dollar Monday as Founder of Galaxy Balloons shares valuable advice for building and growing your business.  

Chapter Summaries

Key Takeaways 

  • Have a competitive Advantage.
  • This is so important when you talk about starting a business. Why is somebody going to buy your product? What’s going to differentiate you from the competition? You have to have your elevator speech and be able to tell in a minute or two why exactly your business is better.
  • Build your credibility. Your word is everything. 
  • Let them know you have a problem right up front and be forward about it. Let them know what the new solution is that you’re working on. It’s much better to be proactive than reactive. 
  • Develop a really good thorough business plan. Be a visionary and see the big picture, understand your market.
  • Be a good communicator. Have integrity. Be open, honest, and trustworthy with your suppliers, customers and employees.
  •  Celebrate Diversity.
  • Steer the Ship. If you find yourself down shoveling the coal, then who is steering the ship? So as a business owner, you have to learn to delegate things, just take it back because you need to be up top and you need to be okay. Where are we going to be in six months, in one year, five years from now and steer the ship. 
  • I think the number one reason why most people in business don't get wealthy is because they don't learn how to delegate because not all work is created equal. 

Resource Links

Terry Brizz mentions the Hit TV series, Shark Tank. Kevin Harrington, one of the original “sharks” was our guest speaker on Million Dollar Monday – check out episode here

Interested in learning more about having a competitive edge? We suggest watching Your Competitive Advantage with Eric Nashbar here

Stay tuned for Part 2, which goes live on August 9! SUBSCRIBE  to receive a notification once episode is available.

Terry Brizz:

I always say you have to have a good business plan. A business plan is like a blueprint. If you go to start a house. What are you going to do? You're not going to just go buy a bunch of lumber You're not going to buy a bunch of bricks and dig a hole, you need to have a plan. And a business plan, is your blueprint.

Greg Muzzillo:

Hello and welcome to Million Dollar Monday. I'm your host, Greg. Muzzillo bringing you real successful people with real useful advice for people with big dreams. I understand big dreams. I turned an investment of $200 and a lot of great advice from some really successful people into my big dream Proforma. That today is a half billion dollar company. Well, we have a very interesting guest today. I'm excited to introduce to you interesting, because not only is he a successful entrepreneur, having started a balloon company of all things, and we're going to learn a whole lot more about that 30 years ago, starting Galaxy Balloons. But additionally, he has his doctorate in business management and is a professor of entrepreneurship having taught at both case Western Reserve University and Baldwin Wallace University. So he has some great insights for us, both from the viewpoint of a successful founder and entrepreneur and professor of entrepreneurship. Please join me and welcome Terry Brizz. Terry, thanks for joining us.

Terry Brizz:

Well, thank you for having me, Greg.

Greg Muzzillo:

Let's start at the beginning and tell us just a little bit about your growing up years, your parents, your education and the experiences that you had that gave you the work ethic and maybe the desire at some point to own your own business.

Terry Brizz:

So I came from a family of nine kids. I always joke about that. My mom would throw out eight pork chops and we had to fight who got fed, but no, she was really good. And so we had nine kids in our family. My dad used to work for a company called Moen Faucets. He was actually one of Al Moen's first salesman. We moved, I was actually born in Chicago. We moved here when I was seven years old going into third grade. We moved to Chicago to Lakewood, Ohio, and Stanadyne Moen faucets sold to Stanadyne which was a company in Elyria . So we moved here, came here. I attended a Catholic grade school here in Lakewood and went on to a Catholic high school in Cleveland, Ohio. And then I went to two years , with another story maybe , I ended up going to Adrian college up in Michigan for two years. And I spent a semester in Rome, Italy, which was really awesome while Loyola University has a place there. And I met my wife there, our youngest son went there also. And then I ended up coming home. My dad, he had colon cancer. So I ended up staying, got my degree at Cleveland state, then went on and got my MBA at Cleveland state and got my doctorate at Case. So that's kind of that background.

Greg Muzzillo:

Now bring us to your career path. Right? So you graduate from school, what was the career path that led you to starting Galaxy Balloons?

Terry Brizz:

Okay. So when I got out of school, so college, you know , we're, we're talking about 1978, '79 in Cleveland, as in the Midwest. So if you think about Erie, Pittsburgh, Detroit, was the big industries were automotive and steel. So I was in the steel industry about the mid eighties. The steel industry was really in trouble. It was really going down , companies like J and L steel, which is no longer around LTV, things like that were going chapter 11 bankrupt and things like that. So I happened to be in Pittsburgh of all places. So, you know, working and I'm standing in line to get a room. You know, we didn't have the internet back then nothing like that instead you have to stand in line to get a hotel room and started talking to this gentlemen , and we started talking and I was kind of bemoaning the fact that I'm in the steel industry. I don't see the future in it. You know, these companies are going under and I'm not sure it's something I want to do. I just got my MBA and he goes, Well would you ever want to sell balloons? I said, what? balloons? you know , I was like ok right. Yeah . The guy goes, we've got a guy retiring out of Chicago , so I said what kind of money do you make? He s aid, i t's a $100,000 A year. this is in 1985. I m ake a 35,000 and thinking I'm doing well y ou k now, but anyways, so he gave me his card and y ou k now, we t alk next day, literally Greg. I'm driving b ack from Pittsburgh to Cleveland. LTV steel goes chapter 11, I'm listening to the news. It's oh my God. So I pull in, everybody's like, I don't know what we're going to do. They owe us this money. We have layoffs . So I'm reaching around where's this guy's card I find it. And I call him up. I go down, it's a company called National LATEX and they are down in Ashland. Ohio had a great interview talk to t hem. And they, they were talking about, I f ind out that it was a commission only job. You know, you have t he 10 99 commission. So I said, Hey, can I get a draw on the commission? They said sure. What do you want? I said, how about 5,000 a month? No problem. So I just doubled my pay roughly. I said, okay, I'm on board. So they moved me to Chicago and it was really one of the best decisions I ever made. I will look back, I got into the promotional products industry. So basically what I, my job was to do with sell, imprinted balloons, imprinted sport balls. So promotional products distributors through the Midwest. So I had Ohio, Northern Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and part of , St. Louis, part of Missouri, Eastern part of Missouri. So it was great, you know, and I was traveling around every week, calling distributors and I did extremely well. Within a couple of years, I was their top salesman doing very, very well. And I was happy. I just loved it. I loved the industry. It was so much fun. So wide open to you, you could be so creative. How do you do this and that ? And I just, I just really fell in love with it. And so I was happy 1989 I'm rep of the year doing very Well. In 1990. So the beginning of January, I'm in, St. Louis making calls and I call the office work to my national sales manager. He goes, what are you doing in St. Lois? And they can call us, well, we change your territory. Let me take a step back. The dad retired and the son took over and that was the end of 1989. And so 1990 January, I'm sitting there and I said, what do you mean? You've changed my territory. Yeah , we've taken away, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and in Missouri. And we couldn't be north and South Dakota. They, they took away about, you know , 50 you know , half of my income or more, and gave it to one of his buddies. The owner gave it one of his buddies . And I said, well, let me talk to him. You know , let me talk to him . So he put me over to him and , and his son said to me, Terry your our best salesman, thus far if you don't like it in a couple of months. You can find a job someplace else. Really. Wow. I can't make that. It's funny. Wow . There was a guy sitting across his desk when he was talking to me. He ended up starting a company, a balloon company. I turned out to be one of my suppliers, but he sat across the desk to her and say that to me. So I'd sit there going, okay, what do I do now? So I'm starting to look for a job, you know, looking around in our industry and living in Chicago and then a friend of mine. So I remember at a waffle house in Indianapolis, we're doing this trade show and he says , I got to talk to you. And basically put me aside and he goes, why don't you start your own company. He said, you know, you guy from Chicago, right. You know, where the bodies are buried. In other words, you know, where the customers are, you know, you're hardworking . You should think about starting your own company. And he goes , I , you do, I would be interested in investing. So I started thinking about that. And, and so I reached out and I started putting together a business plan and looking, and my original business plan, I was going to have , five investors, myself and four others. And I just looked at that and I was starting to put together. And part of the business plan was what was going to be my competitive advantage. What was, why what's. And that's what I tell every entrepreneur. And I , work a little, actually the business planning clinic at I 'm, a f aculty a dvisor, a nd I've worked at, and some of my students have come back to me a nd started trying to start companies up. I always say, you have to have a good business plan. A business plan is like a blueprint. If you go to start a house, what are you going to do? You're not just going to buy a bunch of l umber and your not going to buy a bunch of bricks and dig a hole, you need to have a plan. And t he business plan i s, your blueprint. And so I took some time and really put together. I thought it was a really good blueprint and, o r a business plan. And so I put that together. I contacted, you know, investors. They all a gree verbally I'm on board. We'll do this. I even found the company that, which happened ironically, happened to be i n Ashland, Ohio, or National Latex who were making this new type of p rinting equipment, that printed balloons, and these were done with s ilkscreen. And if you don't mind, just show a quick video of that. Yeah.

Greg Muzzillo:

I'm sure everybody really wonders how at the end of the day, do you print on a balloon? So yeah. Let's take a look at how, how balloons get printed.

Terry Brizz:

Yeah. y eah, all balloons are i nflated and this is a silk screening process. So you could see a balloon being p rinted there. So, and, by the way, currently we have the capacity for about a quarter million balloons a day. So that gives you an idea. So also to the next slide here, you'll see the difference. And there's two different logos t here one says Flexo. A nd one says Zenith p rinting, which w ith our name f or screen print, but you c ould see how the difference in p rinting is, and it's so much nicer, so much better. So this new technology was coming out. So i t was really on the cutting edge with that. So I contacted the company that was doing that, and they told me how much the equipment c osts. And they got m e in touch with t he leasing company. So I talked to the leasing company, s end t hem my information, and I talked to the guy and he said, yeah, you should be good. No problem. So, two days later, the leasing company calls me up and says, guess what? Or didn't they guess what he just said, sorry, the committee turned you down. You're not going to your meanwhile, I had already ordered the equipment and I called the manufacturer , the equipment. I said, you know, and he was, you know, he was bringing it up in a day or two. And I said, and I remember I wrote him out a check for $50,000. And I said, listen, here's the deal either. this check is going to and I post dated it at 30 days. I said, either this check is going to cash in 30 days, or you can come and get the equipment, you know, one or the other , and lo and behold, he left the equipment little did I know And I find out later, if I bounced the $50,000 check, I probably could have gone to jail. That's what, I didn't know that. So anyways, so then my investors now , the five investors. So I had Ken Buck who was , you know , another woman from our industry. And then I had my brother and my roommate from college. So I had myself , well guess which two investors backed out at the last month? Oh, no, no, go for it. I worry it's family, but it was family that taught me the other thing. Don't hire family, be careful with blood. So here I was, you know , 5$50,000 left . When I thought I was going to have to start the business. Meanwhile, I'd already signed the lease. I had this equipment here so away I was going. So I was in a panic mode and I'm trying to find out, okay, what do I do now? So I ended up contacting a group called cozy community, smaller enterprises. They hooked me up with a, or lined me up with a bank savings and loan. Okay . Then just for our secretary ,

Greg Muzzillo:

The council of smaller enterprises cozy is affiliated with the SBA, the small business administration. Is that right? Okay. And they help facilitate those small business administration, SBA loans. Right. Just for the people that are listening.

Speaker 1:

Okay. And then they contacted me with a , with a savings and loans here in Cleveland. And , and so I remember the officer came out or the loaner came out and you wanted to see, okay, what are you doing? And fortunately , I had the machines up and I was one in a couple of words , he's watching the balloons print. And he goes, do you have a business plan? And so I don't know if you could see this, but I had already , I I had this business plan that I put together, I get , he was like, well , this looks good. You know, he just so little surprised I actually had a business plan. It , so he , yeah, that's my original business had . So he went back Monday morning and he calls me, he says, okay, we'll give you a loan. Now we had a wife and I had to go out and put our house up as collateral, but he gave us a loan so away , we were often going. And , so that's kind of how, you know, it's interesting to all entrepreneurs, you know, you talk to anybody starting to come in , I'm sure you can relate to some of these things too. You always had some interesting challenges when you start , start your business u p.

Greg Muzzillo:

And so were you able to get a loan that replaced the need for some of the investment capital that you were looking for?

Terry Brizz:

Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. Wow.

Greg Muzzillo:

There is a huge l esson there for, and I talk about this a lot, T erry, and I think you and I have had these conversations, about how in today's world. It seems like a lot of entrepreneurs, especially in school are sorta taught because i t's, there's a lot of business plan competitions pitching your plan. And it almost seems like they're taught that step One is to have a business plan. Step two is to raise money and slice up the pie. And then step three is to get going and growing. And, you know, I b ootstrapped my business and s tarted it doesn't seem like schools talk about that as much anymore. And I love the thought that you didn't have to cut up the pie as much as you thought you might have to b ecause y ou w ere able to bring on debt.

Terry Brizz:

Yeah, no, that's, that's correct. You know, it's, it's, I think the idea though, you know , with the bootstrapping though, too, is , you know, success rate of entrepreneurship, you know, is, you know, I think you're, you're better off with a well thought out business plan, like we've said before , there's so many successful entrepreneurs that just, Hey, go here and let's give it a try and they go along the way and, you know , find somebody . Yeah . Oh yeah. I,

Greg Muzzillo:

I agree in having a business plan. Uh, it's just some of the people wanting to slice up the pie before they even try to get started. Right. That's a good point. And I think sometimes that's the right thing and I certainly wouldn't want to discourage some people but I think some people should really take a hard look at, is this something they could sort of bootstrap together with some of their own money in with debt , including debt. We had a guest on not that long ago, especially from the equipment supplier , and the cost of goods, kind of the products you were selling suppliers, you know, sometimes, and you know, this Terry in our business, the suppliers who sell all of the balloons and pens and hats and mugs and shirts and all the other stuff that promotional products, distributors . So sometimes become unwitting and maybe unwilling venture capital kind of people for , the distributors that are getting started because they get an order. They place the order with the supplier. The supplier takes the order with little or no money down, especially back in the day where that was a whole lot more popular. And then everybody's hoping the customer pays on time so that the supplier can get paid. In other words, the person that printed the products, the distributor hopes that the customer pays so they can pay the supplier. So , not that I'm trying to say that there are other sources of capital available, but to a certain degree suppliers, you know, Terry, you were a source of capital , not necessarily willingly for a lot of distributors that got up and running. And yet probably when they, when you look back, a lot of them probably had a big, huge debt of gratitude and have been great and loyal customers of yours for a long

Terry Brizz:

Time. Yeah. And I also think you bring up an excellent point too, about suppliers. I remember going to a, our latex balloon supplier a couple of times, and Hey, I got this big order. I made these balloons, but I pay you like in 90 days because it's going to be going to do this and stuff. And they were good , but I always made sure that, that, that check was sent out on the 85th day. Yeah. They got there a little early, so then next time, you know, build your credibility. But yeah, that's one way that you can do, you know, working with your suppliers, but, you know, I would, you know, you can do that. And then, which is great. And I get , I've done that with my suppliers, but I've always made sure when I gave my word, you're going to get that money on that day . They got it. You know? So in the future they would open up your word is

Greg Muzzillo:

Your word is everything. Sometimes though. And here's where I find a lot of people fall down. Sometimes even when we give our word things happen and we can't do what we said we were going to do, but some people run and hide when they can't do what they said they were going to do. And that is such the wrong way to go. The right way to go is to call up whoever you told you were going to do something, let them know you have a problem right up front and be forward about it and let them know what the new solution is that you're working on. Because eventually you're going to get that phone call. Anyhow, eventually you're going to have the conversation. It's much better to be proactive in having that conversation rather than reactive. When somebody's chasing you down.

Terry Brizz:

That's actually a point or being transparent with your partner. You know, you say, Hey, you know, here is situation, you know, please work with me. I appreciate all that. You've done. I'll do that . You know, and yeah, I agree. 30

Greg Muzzillo:

Years ago, over 30 years ago, you start galaxy balloons you're very successful. You even won the entrepreneur of the year award and congratulations on all of your success , as a successful entrepreneur. Do you have any other advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Terry Brizz:

Well , one of the things that , that I would say as far as, you know, upcoming entrepreneurs, what I would do is , uh , so we've talked a little bit about, is develop a really good thorough business plan. I don't mean to beat that horse to death, but yeah, I would think that I would say visionary and try to see the big picture, try to understand your market, try to see where, where everything fits in. I think that's really important. I think being a communicator, you know, you , you know, you mentioned before, we just thought integrity. You know, that to me is really important. You'll be open, honest, trustworthy, you know, with your suppliers, with your customers, Hey, Greg, you know, this order, I'm having a struggle. You know, this order is not going to get out on time and let you know ahead of time. I can send you out or whatever it might be being upfront and trustworthy with your employees. I think also too, with value in your employees, appreciating them and letting them know that, you know, so we have cooked out, you know, I cooked out for everybody a couple of times a year, we did, we have birthday meetings. We do, we try to do things we reward, you know, we have a point system and you can, you know, get bonuses and stuff like that. So we really appreciate it . I meet with the employees frequently. I'm always asking their advice, voice, and I want your input I want them to feel apart of our company. You know, part of the part of the company. It's funny, you know , we have done in our, our , cafeteria area there, we have all these flags from these, from flags, but from countries that our employees were born. So we really we've celebrated diversity for , since I almost started the company. So the day before Thanksgiving, usually on Wednesday, you have to bring in a dish from the country you were born at . We have a big celebration, but I really, we really appreciate that. And you know, really. So I think, you know , it's important as a business owner to value your employees and be able to communicate with them. I also think, going back to that , the visionary, I remember Ken Buck telling me something, and this is something also too . I found in my research when I did my , uh, thesis is, you know, is you need to be able to steer the ship. And he told me, you know, he says , if you find yourself down and he talked about the ship, you know, shoveling the coal, who's steering the ship. So as a business owner, you have to learn to delegate things, think about it because you need to be up top and you need to be okay, where are we going to be in six months in one year, five years from now and steer the shifts. That's I talk about being a visionary, had that in mind, guys, it's easy. And that's one thing. And that is a fault that you read about a lot too , entrepreneurs, not willing to give up stuff, you know, they , they don't want to . And I think that's something that, you know, you need to do that too. So those are some of the things. And also to think it's important to have fun, to be able to laugh at yourself , admit mistakes. You know, I think that's, that's important too. If you're not having fun, you know, you could Emily me running a business sometimes You go through some rough patches, but you got to try to have fun

Greg Muzzillo:

Going back to that, learning to delegate thing. I think the number one reason why most people in business don't get wealthy is because they don't learn how to delegate because not all work is created equal. Terry , I know, you know, this there's work that you could pay somebody $25 an hour or whatever to do, but there's other work that if you focus on the business development stuff, you could be making $500 an hour. You could be getting wealthy. And some people don't realize that they just have a, to do list. And the to-do list has a lot of stuff on it. And a lot of it's what I call "do -do" on the to-do list because they shouldn't be doing it. And if they continue to do it, even if they're great at it, they'll never get wealthy because you can't make $500 an hour doing $25 an hour at work , so I think your point about delegating is, is humongous.

Terry Brizz:

Yeah. And again, that's what the advice, you know, and everybody's still think of that today. You know , you out there shoveling the coal, or are you steering the ship and you should be steering the ship because it needs to go. So sorry ,

Greg Muzzillo:

This has been a great session learning from you about how to print balloons, about your successful entrepreneurial path and , lots of great advice. I want to thank you for joining us this week, and I want to make sure our guests know to look forward to next week when Terry joins us to talk about some of the advice and experience he has for aspiring entrepreneurs that he has from his years of being a professor of entrepreneurship and a doctor of business management looking forward to next week. Terry .

:

Me too Greg. Thank you so much.

Introducing Terry Brizz
Selling Balloons
Competitive Advantage
Business Struggles
Your Word is Everything
Key Advice