The White House Business Council invited small business owners and entrepreneurs from across the country to a forum we hosted with Business Forward earlier this month. While they were here, we spoke to some of the people we met about the secrets of their success, and found out how the American Jobs Act will enable them to grow even more quickly in 2012.
Laura Zander and her husband Doug left San Francisco and their jobs as software engineers at the end of the dot com bubble. They first settled in a small California town and poured their savings into Zander’s store, Jimmy Beans Wool in 2002. “Jimmy” is Laura’s nickname from her husband after their favorite musician. The “Beans Wool” described the store itself: part yarn shop, part coffee shop. While the coffee was good, it was the yarn that became the hit, and Zander sold the espresso machine on eBay six months later. Knitting had been Zander’s hobby. It was now her business.
Now located in Reno, Nevada, Jimmy Beans Wool is taking off. Zander expects to sell more than $6 million worth of products this year, an almost 600 percent sales improvement over five years. Zander strives to make the online shopping experience like the real thing. Items ship within 12 hours of purchase seven days a week and customers can browse 1,000 video product reviews. Zander is also committed to corporate social responsibility. Jimmy Beans Wool sponsored six college scholarships last year and is an official sponsor of the US Snowboard and Freeskiing Teams. This summer Zander will release a book featuring celebrity-designed knitwear to launch the “Stitch Red” campaign against heart disease.
According to Zander, the President's plan to create jobs will further fuel her company’s success. “Our business is self-financed and debt free – we want to keep it that way. The only thing preventing our additional growth is the cash flow to purchase more inventory and sell more products. Through a reduction in payroll taxes, the American Jobs Act would help remove a roadblock. To put it simply, for every dollar that the American Jobs Act would save us in payroll taxes, we can increase our revenues by $2.”