Ready, Set, Grow - Black Enterprise

Ready, Set, Grow

Luam Keflezgy, Marc David, and Traci Copeland are designing a plan for growth. (Photo by Lonnie Major)

We all know that entrepreneurs rock to the beat of a different drummer. That’s how most got through this hard-hitting year. As the economy goes into recovery, some business owners are looking to turn the volume up on their efforts, to move beyond mere survival and grow their venture. To ensure longevity, their efforts need to be organized, thorough, and realistic.

S is for Success (and Strategy)
While some fault a lack of resources, and others, an inability to access opportunities, the overall (and often unacknowledged) reason that companies stagnate is their principals have neither a comprehensive outlook of their business nor a strategic growth plan. And strategy is as much about figuring out what not to do as it is about determining what to do. “Most people make the mistake of being reactive,” says Leonard Greenhalgh, professor of management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. “They wait for opportunities to come to them. But that’s not strategic, that’s just opportunistic.” Also the author of Managing Strategic Relationships: The Key to Business Success (The Free Press; $30), Greenhalgh urges small businesses to rethink their practices because strategic growth is all about identifying and understanding the following: how the market operates; the business’ role within the value chain; who the competitors are; what the customers need; and what products and/or services the business is capable of providing.

Call of the Wild (Child)
Admittedly, small business owners have little time to work on their business, because operating it takes precedence. “We’re limited by sleep, not by opportunity,” says Marc David, 30, who is one-third of Wildchild Nation (, a Bronx, New York-based retail and wholesale apparel company started in September 2006. His partners are Traci Copeland, 30, and Luam Keflezgy, 31.

Available in some 25 boutiques and dance studios as well as online, Wildchild clothes are hot: Revenues for 2008 were $280,000–nearly double what they generated the first year out. And they expect to close out 2009 with revenues of about $425,000, quite a feat considering Wildchild is in an industry that has seen better days. Contributing to its growth are retail deals, social networking, and increased exposure (product placement on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew and Made series, and in the dance film franchise, Step It Up).

Digging deeper into this niche, Copeland, Keflezgy, and David launched Threader ( five months ago. Designed as an online marketplace, Threader currently offers a selective group of clients like notable dance crews and choreographers production and/or distribution channels–the same ones as Wildchild’s–in which to produce and/or sell their merchandise. Orders are added with Wildchild’s current production line, which provides their clients with a centralized, reasonably priced portal to bring their products to market. As the parent company, Wildchild receives a percentage of Threader’s sales; in its first three months, Threader generated $5,000 in revenue.