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The Client: The Neck Hammock
Dr. Steve Sudell has spent most of his career as a physical therapist helping professional athletes in well-known sports organizations such as the Atlanta Falcons and the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was in this role that he also found another calling as an inventor.
Sudell typically treated patients in his clinic, but he also knew the importance of home-based remedies. When a growing number of his patients started to complain about neck pain, Sudell began thinking of a product that would help his patients alleviate neck pain in the comfort of their own home. “I can do the best that I can as a clinician while I’m seeing my patients,” Sudell said. “But the majority of their day is spent not in my clinic. So I wanted to create a product that they could use to supplement our services and potentially allow them to improve their spinal hygiene, flexibility and reduce their pain without even seeing me.”
That led Sudell to invent The Neck Hammock, a portable FDA-approved medical device that can attach to any door, rail, or pole, and promises to provide professional-grade neck pain relief in 10 minutes or less. Sudell came up with the idea after tweaking his own neck while exercising two years ago: “I grabbed a band wrapped it around a pole and the back of my head and 10 minutes later, my neck pain was gone.”
Wearing two different hats
Sudell is now the owner of a physical therapy clinic and CEO of the Neck Hammock. He soon realized that they’re two different types of businesses, especially when it comes to financing. “With my physical therapy practice, I had a consistent cash flow forecast from patients I saw every week,” Sudell said. “With e-commerce, there are many moving parts involved. I turned more into a manager than a technician.” While Sudell devotes about 60 hours a week running his business, he still practices part-time, which helps cover expenses incurred from the Neck Hammock.
What The Business Needed
Sudell’s cash flow from the Neck Hammock is stable, but he wanted a cash cushion to keep his business afloat in case of financial emergencies. He embraced the principle recommended by many financial advisers: the best time to look for business financing is when you don’t need it.
“You’re in a position of strength when you have money to ask for money versus when you’re out [of money] and asking for money,” Sudell said. But Sudell eventually encountered a hurdle.
Alternative to Traditional Banks
Although the Neck Hammock was doing well, most traditional banks appeared to be unimpressed and were not inclined to offer him financing. “Going to traditional banks was extremely difficult,” Sudell said. “Because I didn’t have the traditional two year records, they wouldn’t even talk to me.”
How BlueVine Helped
Sudell found BlueVine through Quickbooks, an accounting software aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. He immediately signed up for a Line of Credit and got approved within 20 minutes of submitting his application.
For Sudell, the straightforward payment terms made it dramatically easier to manage his finances and run his business. “Doing the weekly payments is nice because there’s consistency,” Sudell said. “You know exactly what you’re going to be paying per week. There’s no surprises.”
As the Neck Hammock became more popular, BlueVine financing helped Sudell deal with a typical problem for any small business that sells a product, running out of inventory. “There are periods where there will be no money coming in but we need money coming out,” Sudell said. “That’s where the Line of Credit really comes in handy.”
While it’s easy for a small business owner to get excited about scaling as fast as possible, Sudell says “the smartest thing to do is to stay as lean as possible and build based on growth.”
“Taking a step back, I think I would’ve done things a little bit more slowly,” he added. He also recommends that business owners learn basic accounting skills, such as cash flow forecasting and analyzing financial statements. “If you want to run a successful business, It doesn’t matter if you have a great product. If you don’t know where the cash is going, or how much is flowing, then you could be out of business soon.”
About Growing Business With BlueVine
Our clients grow with us. They use BlueVine financing to address everyday funding needs and to pursue opportunities to take their business to the next level. This series aims to highlight the stories of small and medium-sized businesses that have grown and continue to grow with BlueVine.
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This article was first published on July 24, 2018. It was updated on
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