Miami Gardens Business is OnTrack to Sustainable Growth
Peter Agbeyegbe started PTRAYE in 2020, a Miami Gardens e-commerce business funded through the OnTrack Miami Gardens Business Loan Program from the Community Fund of North Miami Dade (CFNMD). We met with Peter where it all started, his garage, to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.
What has been the key for your business growth?
Peter: “Not quitting, because I wanted to quit numerous times, especially before you find the rhythm. It takes time. I’ve had many challenges. Getting funding was a challenge because I didn't have my numbers the way they were required. I knew that I was making money, I knew I was profitable, I just couldn't show it the traditional way that lenders want to see it. But I am glad [CFNMD] helped me find a bookkeeper to translate my effort to the required format of the financial statements, which helped me overcome this challenge.
Finding suppliers was a challenge, and prep centers because I was using my garage, and that is great to save money, but once you get good volume you need more help, and I needed to figure out how to get all the work done.”
Why didn't you quit? What made you keep going?
Peter: “I knew it could work. I knew it was difficult, but I believed in myself. I believe that there is a business opportunity. I did the research and I know that there's potential to make money, I just have to do the work. And also I'm a member of several seller communities with online and local in-person meetings, I've taken well over 20 different selling courses, I listen to industry specific podcasts looking to gather knowledge, and I see there is much potential and it can be done. It doesn't mean it's going to be easy, I'm just saying it's possible and you got to do the work. So I don't like to quit, I'm a hard worker and I know I can get the benefits.”
You spent well over a year of the business trying to figure out the suppliers, the products, the market, beyond learning the craft. Now, you are on a more stable path, matching your skills and knowledge with your experience. Tell us about your journey.
Peter: “It was more than just finding suppliers, but finding the right business model. There are many ways to sell in this business, and I tried several of them until I found that the wholesale model works best for me because I could be more efficient. I eventually found a fast seller product, one of the first items that helped the business cross the six figures in sales in one year, a humble toilet bowl cleaner. After that, I wanted to find other fast sellers that I could order directly, and I knew I could sell it over and over. I would order as many quantities as I could afford, let it sell, get the money back, buy some more. And I just did that over and over and over and over. I can make a larger order today than I could last year, and now the business has moved on to the snacks section which I buy wholesale and sell in different package sizes.”
When applying for the loan with CFNMD, you knew you were making money, but you couldn’t show that. Was it surprising that you had all this information but that others couldn't see how profitable the business was?
Peter: “It was frustrating at times because I have a software that shows me the sales, I keep track of everything I purchased so I know there's a profit. But I was a little surprised and sometimes disappointed when there is a bit of time or there's a translation that has to occur before I can get the small business funding. However I am grateful for the help that CFNMD provided in obtaining bookkeeping and accounting support, because it helped with that translation and ultimately with obtaining the loan.”
How did the Community Fund of North Miami Dade help your business?
Peter: “The CFNMD was vital for me to be able to afford simple bookkeeping and accounting. I didn't have the resources to pay for that at the time (I still work with the bookkeeper and accountant today). That was vital because it made it easier to present the numbers in the correct manner to acquire capital, which helps me to scale even faster. Without that capital, I'd still be going at the slowest pace, waiting for all my past sales before I can buy more inventory. Now it's easier for me to buy more all at once and I can increase sales.”
What advice do you give to new entrepreneurs?
1. Don't give up. That's very important. I wanted to quit so many times and if I had, I wouldn't be here right now.
2. Take advantage of free or low-cost resources. There's tons of free resources you might not be aware of. Check with the library and with your local small business organizations. I'm making money and still using many free resources. Just because you make more money, you spend more money. That's not business. You want to save more money and you want to take advantage of the resources available.
3. Watch your numbers. There can be a lot of waste because while there are many opportunities, there's also a learning curve and at that point you don't have all your efficiencies down packed, so be mindful. Watch out for overspending as it can add up to be waste, especially when you have a good bookkeeper showing you all these numbers. Be careful with the purchases as not every idea will work, and just because you have capital doesn't mean you want to spend it. You will feel regret when you're spending your money and the projects don't work out and you wish you had a little bit more money to do the next
About OnTrack Miami Gardens Business Loan Program
Just like Peter Agbeyegbe is placing his e-commerce business OnTrack to success, many other Miami Gardens businesses are following this path, accessing capital and business support for growth.
OnTrack is a loan program offered to Miami Gardens businesses or residents to help with inventory and equipment purchases, working capital or refinance expensive debt, among other uses that promote business growth. The loans are powered by Formula 1® and the asset-building loan enhancements are funded by the Truist Foundation.