The most important thing to entrepreneur Brian Swendra and his wife Marina is family time. With young children at home, he wasn’t happy with the intense travel required by his corporate job. He solved that problem when he and his wife founded Enhanced Security Solutions, Inc. in 2010. The company provides security services to a variety of markets including executive protection, warehouse security, storefront security, parking lot management and more. Here’s how Brian and his wife Marina built a successful business and their plans for expansion.
“I was a Regional Loss Prevention specialist for Amazon.com. It was draining and I couldn’t spend time with my two little girls. My number one goal is to spend as much time with my family as possible and it wasn’t happening,” he says.
Brian’s in-laws, Marina and Jose, made the suggestion that he branch out on his own. “My wife said you already hire, train, do payroll and manage over 300 people. Why not just do it yourself?”, he says. With a degree in criminal justice, firearm certification and a deep knowledge of the security industry, Brian received funding from his in-laws to attain the permits required to start a business in California and they designed a logo and uniforms. The family chose the name “Enhanced Security Solutions, Inc.” because they didn’t want to be pigeonholed into just private security. Brian says, “The business would not have been a success without the help and oversight from not only my wife Marina, but also from my in-laws.
“We started simply,” he says. “We knew we wanted to do a service industry, not operate as a middleman. We get clients who pay a certain amount and we pay the employee. We thought that would be the easiest way to start a business.” They were able to launch the business on a shoestring budget. The required permits were about $1,700 dollars and they operate from a virtual office.
Marina and Brian make a great team. “She’s more of the people person with a background in customer service and healthcare,” he says. “My background is interrogation. I’m used to talking one-on-one with people who don’t like me. She listens more and forms relationships with employees.”
The couple operates like a well-oiled machine, handling business with a personal touch. “We are literally available 24/7,” he says. “Either me or my wife picks up the phone.”
Enhanced Security Solutions has a satellite office in Riverside, California used for interviewing and training. Marina does all of the hiring for the W2 employees paid per call instead of hourly. The company has grown quickly and currently employs 181 full time Security Officers and 62 part time Security Specialists.
The time came when Brian knew he needed additional capital to keep up with growth. “City National Bank dropped off a flyer for small business loans. I wanted working capital to grow and expand the ATM side of our business to other states. After three weeks of talking, they said they couldn’t help us.” He also applied for a line of credit but the bank wasn’t able to provide that either.
Brian ended up coming across SmartBiz Loans online and was approved for a low-cost SBA loan by a SmartBiz bank partner . His SmartBiz Relationship Manager Adam helped guide him through the application process.
“He was really great,” he says. Adam would call and text me probably 20 times a day. I felt that he was trying to help me, not sell a product. I liked that I could call him too.”
Now Brian and Marina are focused on growth and will soon be operating in Nevada and Oregon. The couple eventually wants to relocate from California and flexibility is key. “That’s the great thing, we can live anywhere, I dispatch everything from my cell phone.”
Like many business owners, his biggest challenge is time management and knowing when he needs to shut off. “The business is your baby and hardest thing is to turn off that switch. I’m up between 7 and 8 am and on the computer till noon. Sometimes I’m on phone till 1 am in the morning. I haven’t found the sweet spot of work/life balance.”
Brian has good advice for other entrepreneurs. “My best advice is to make sure to research. It’s the most important thing. Do you have a niche or a service that is better or different? Make sure that your business does something no one else does or does it better.”
He also knows that having loved ones behind him is important. “If you have a supportive family, you can do almost anything.”
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