Andrew Magnus, Owner/President of the thriving BTC Envelopes and Printing, LLC, recently attended a Lunch & Learn program for minority entrepreneurs. He shared his views on small business ownership.
“I call running a business ‘synchronized swimming’. The routines look so smooth and easy above the water. But go below to see just how much work it takes.”
It’s thoughtful insight like this that has led SmartBiz customer Magnus along his successful entrepreneurial journey. Here’s his story and his plans for future business growth.
Magnus learned about sales working for Harris/3M. One of the businesses he visited was for a headhunter who immediately recognized his drive and talent. Magnus was set up on an interview that led to a position with Clinton Envelope and Paper where he worked for 25 years.
“I worked my way up from sales rep to sales manager and learned all about print and paper. Unfortunately, I saw the writing on the wall.” The company, in business 60+ years was going under.
Magnus decided that the time was right to start his own business. “I was up late at night to set up a company I could be proud of. A customer who was a CPA printed out a list of things to do – I looked everything up online and did it all myself.”
His drive to start a business didn’t come out of the blue. “I’ve always been competitive,” he says. “I wanted to create my own destiny. That’s the personality type I am.”
Used to getting a weekly paycheck, Magnus had a little trepidation about going it on his own. “It’s all on me – my motivation, work ethic and results. I knew I could do it.”
Magnus established BTC as a certified minority business. “I only knew one minority business owner. He asked me why I was working for someone else and told me that I could make my own paycheck. That always stuck in my mind. A big part of my push was to create a greater minority presence in a multi-billion dollar industry.” Magnus targeted companies and institutions with a diversity spend initiative.
In 2007, Magnus filed his charter of incorporation with the state of Pennsylvania. “I was still working full time but I made a deal with my boss. I said that I would keep my numbers but I’ll service any business with a diversity spend.”
Magnus put in the hours needed to get off the ground. “I was up till 3 am many nights working on bringing in business on my own. I was learning the ins and outs by taking notes, meeting everyone I could and going to workshops.” When the company he worked for went under, he was ready to go.
BTC Envelopes & Printing now has 20+ years of experience in business solutions. The company supplies innovative, on time and multifaceted solutions for customers seeking quality products and stellar customer service.
“Today our whole mission and goal is to be customer service oriented, provide the best product and focus on quality,” he says. “We have budget friendly prices to help our customers market and operate their company through print and promotional products.” BTC has an impressive list of clients from the transportation authority in Pennsylvania to major universities in the community.
A big factor that contributed to his company’s growth was being accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in 2014. The 8 week course provided entrepreneurs with a “soup to nuts” program that covered a broad range of topics like reading and interpreting financial statements, HR rules, how to grow your business and more. “I saw business mistakes I had made and learned from them,” he says. “One of the biggest things I learned was “managed growth”. Don’t go out there and grab the biggest and shiniest equipment until you know you can support it. It’s a mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make.”
Self-funded at first, Magnus did utilize a line of credit for additional funds to grow his business. After speaking to a loan officer about different funding products, he realized that a low-cost SBA loan would work best for his company. He ended up with a $150,000 SBA loan through a SmartBiz Loans preferred SBA lending bank partner.
Magnus worked closely with a SmartBiz Relationship Manager during the online loan process. “She was awesome,” he says. “Every time I needed answers, she was there. I would give you guys 10 stars.” Magnus has advice for other small business owners seeking an SBA loan. “When it comes to working on your loan, take a deep breath and do what you’re asked. I blocked off time and dug through everything with a fine tooth comb.” What other advice did he have for budding business owners? “Respect your credit rating. It all starts with that – do not abuse it or you’ll have trouble down the line.”
Magnus has solid plans for the SBA loan. “It’s all about growth now,” he says. Magnus will use the proceeds to restructure high interest debt, upgrade his computer system, purchase a van for deliveries and hire a new employee. “Be very goal oriented,” he says. “Understand that once you hit a plateau, you have to make another plateau of attainable goals. Reaching for the stars can get you in trouble. Instead, focus on the gains.”
Magnus says that he was taught two great lessons for life and work early in his career, which he continues to use as motivation, and achieving success 1] Whatever you do in life, make yourself the OBVIOUS CHOICE, and 2] An executive does not leave until the job is complete. “These are forever etched in my mind and really are my core beliefs.”
What’s next for Magnus? “My oldest son works with me now. I’m developing a legacy I can pass on,” he says proudly. “And I recently became a grandparent twice.”
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