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Matthew Tanner | Alabama | Leveraging and Savings

My journey in entrepreneurship started when I found my passion for it early in life. I watched my dad grow up become a successful Auntie Anne's Pretzels franchisee. Although I went to school for four years, I dove right into it directly after. Being a 23 year old with little capital, it was difficult to get into my first opportunity. With that being said, and my biggest piece of advice to all entrepreneurs, is if there is a "will" there will always be a "way."

I "leaped" into entrepreneurship after getting some small business management experience for 12 months outside of school. I felt like I was very well polished compared to kids my age because I was able to learn in both the "real world" and school simultaneously.

My biggest hurdle initially was capital. I negotiated my way into my first deal when purchasing my first franchise - Auntie Anne's Pretzels in Tuscaloosa Alabama. I put all of my savings, which was very little, as a down payment into the purchase and did an owner based financed deal without the bank involved. I grew that business so quickly that I was able to use it as leverage to get into my next business deal. I purchased the Tropical Smoothie Cafe which was in the same geographic. I was able to do this by structuring it very similarly to the previous deal. Sharing infrastructure and employees between multiple businesses in the same geographic is very beneficial. Most businesses have seasonality so when one store is busy and the other is slow - I could use the stronger pieces of my infrastructure to absorb labor at the busier of the 2 locations. After growing this business extremely fast (up almost 80%) I was able to use that store as leverage towards my third business - Philly Boyz Cheesesteaks. All of these locations would have been substantial cash investments if I didn't negotiate them properly. Without the owner financing in all 3 locations, I wouldn't be where I am at today (just opened my fourth business which is a media agency).

I never dealt with "contention" from family or friends. The negotiations have been the single most important factor in my success to date. I know today that saving up a lot more money earlier in life and not wasting it on cars, clothing, partying, etc has tremendous upside because that money you are saving compounds over the years if invested properly.


I think its very important to take calculated risk when looking at deals. It's important to figure out where your downside and upside are and look at how the operation is being run currently (if you are buying something existing).


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