We opened Snow & Co.in November 2011. It's a frozen cocktail bar. But where a lot of frozen cocktail places use grain alcohol and frozen mixes, we use homemade syrups, fresh ingredients and premium spirits. My three partners and I were getting our MBAs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City when we thought of the idea.
We had talked to banks and thought we'd use a small business loan, but we got rejected within hours of submitting our application. We'd already leased the space. We needed money for rent, to build out the space, buy furnishings, get our opening inventory and train the staff.
My end of things amounted to about $120,000 that first year. I ended up pulling out $20,000 worth of equity in our house, putting $40,000 on credit cards and borrowing $14,000 from my 401(k). I also borrowed another $22,000 through a personal line of credit.
I definitely worry about money every day, some more than others. Between loans, credit cards and personal guarantees, there's the chance I could cost my kids their college savings and end up working two jobs for years to pay it off.
But, we've made it through two winters now as a frozen cocktail bar, which is no small feat. We're growing by leaps and bounds and we did better this year than we did last. I'm paying back the loans and I still have my day job. I think part of being an entrepreneur is being optimistic, and taking calculated risks -- that's what this was.