Picture yourself as a freshly-minted graduate from the Entrepreneurship Program in WSU’s Carson College of Business who is chomping at the bit to start your own business and see a childhood dream “get legs.” What’s your next step? Most people in that position would get about opening their new business.
Why Open One Business, When You Can Open Five?
Zane Larsen isn’t “most people.” Over the last three years after graduating from WSU, he’d opened five businesses (College Cabs, Palouse Touring Company, Clear Vision Media Marketing, Evergreen Tire and Auto Repair, and Evolution Motor Sports and Auto Sales) and at one point was employing over 65 people. In 2015, he received the Palouse Knowledge Corridor’s “Entrepreneur Of The Palouse” award as part of “Be The Entrepreneur Bootcamp™”.
Why The Palouse?
If you ask Zane why he chose the Palouse to open his businesses, he has many reasons.
“Entrepreneurship is about figuring things out. You can’t possibly know all the problems or opportunities that lie ahead before you open a business. On the West Side of the state, everything takes so much longer. Travel time, getting an appointment to see the right person to answer your questions or sign-off on some form can take days or sometimes weeks. On the Palouse I can get so much more accomplished during my business day.
“Marie Dymkowski at the Pullman Chamber of Commerce opened lots of doors for me. I was able to meet governmental leaders, other local businesses and make connections that are essential to success.”
Our Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem on the Palouse includes Washington State University, the University of Idaho, Chambers of Commerce, regional economic development organizations, along with training and networking groups like the Young Professionals, Palouse Knowledge Corridor™, and the BTE Bootcamp™.
Running a business requires continually control costs, expanding your customer base, connecting with other business owners and improve your managerial skills.
Zane tries to find “business synergies” – situations where the combined value of two businesses is greater than the sum of the businesses individually. One example is Evergreen Tire & Auto Repair. Increasing costs in one of Zane’s early businesses, College Cabs, led to a search for additional equipment that would lower those costs. Trying to purchase a tire machine at Evergreen Tire & Auto Repair led to being offered the chance to take over the business, and receive help and training from the original owner.
Zane, a self-identified “Car Guy,” earned tuition money by finding, fixing and selling cars around Bellevue, Washington during WSU’s Summer break, and had a long-term goal of obtaining a Washington State Dealer License. Owning and operating Evergreen Tire & Auto Repair fulfilled one step in the process when he obtained his Washington State Dealer License.
Selling Cars Imported From Canada
Because of differences in the currency exchange rate between Canada and the United States, vehicles imported from Canada can be sold in Pullman for a much larger profit than domestically sourced vehicles. However, importing automobiles involves additional permits and developing “best practices” for the Pullman market.
Networking, “figuring things out,” and perseverance create opportunities for those willing to put in the work. Leveraging another “business synergy,” Zane now imports vehicles from Canada, and services and sells them in Pullman.
Free Internet Service
Another example of “business synergy” is how Zane lowered internet costs for his businesses. He contacted the Regional Director of Frontier Communications Retail Stores seeking to negotiate an exclusive deal for free internet service. He got the deal, along with the chance to manage five Frontier Retail Stores in three states. Those stores became the highest grossing ones on the West Coast, eventually selling all Frontier’s available internet bandwidth capacity in Pullman.
Zane contacted the president of Frontier Communications for help, and additional equipment was shipped overnight from Montana, along with a team of technicians. Within 24 hours, Frontier’s Pullman facility had extra internet capacity. A business need for Zane led to a key meeting with someone who could fill that need and Zane’s track record created a business opportunity filling that same need, for an entirely new customer base.
Business School Is Always In Session
As any successful business owner knows, the market landscape is in a continual state of flux that requires one to become a life-long learner. For Zane, that means visiting different countries and connecting with their business owners to learn how they overcome challenges. So far, has visited China, Thailand, and Vietnam, and plans to see Bali in 2019.
Evergreen Tire & Auto Repair
300 NE Stadium Way
Pullman, WA 99163