After a quick chat with Lowonna and Tracy Weathers, husband and wife, owners of Bounce World and Fort Pierce natives, you'll feel confident to do whatever you set your mind to. Whether it's rental properties, supplying entertainment for birthday parties or providing tents, tables and chairs for weddings, this power couple is determined to take their business to the next level. For Lowonna and Tracy, their entrepreneurial journey started around 2007.
"We started investing in real estate around 2007," Lowonna said. "We have eight homes that we currently rent out. It has it's challenges, especially when it comes to getting financing for more properties. For us, the key to success has been getting good tenants and keeping them in their rentals on a long-term basis. We started Bounce World in May of 2010. At the time, I was driving a school bus and Tracy was a truck driver. He was let go, after a major accident, and we were searching the Internet for other opportunities. Our search led us to entertainment. We discovered party rentals, bounce house rentals and inflatable rentals and decided to go for it."
The Weathers' started with four units, but paid close attention to what customers were asking for and, over time, added more and more units. For the past 11 years in business, they've grown every single year. Through advertising, word-of-mouth marketing, attending expos and networking, they've developed an excellent reputation as a business that delivers on their promises. As a result, they now have nearly 50 units and long list of satisfied clients. They've also added tents, tables and chairs to accommodate weddings and other events.
We asked the Weather's about early and ongoing challenges. "In the beginning, one of our major challenges was insurance," Lowonna said. "Different venues and events require difference insurance. We had to make sure we were properly insured for all the big events we wanted to do. Our ongoing challenges have mostly to do with finances. You need money in order to expand. That's always the first priority."
Looking ahead, the Weather's have big plans for the future of Bounce World. They'd like to create an indoor facility to allow for parties and events to take place despite inclement weather and for those situations where people, because of HOA restrictions or lack of space, can't have a bounce house at their location. Lowonna and Tracy are actively looking at getting that part of Bounce World up and running.
What advice does Lowonna have for folks who may be timid to jump into entrepreneurship? "It's just money," she said. "There's always more money. Before Bounce World, we went out to Vegas, met with a company about opening a franchise type dollar store, signed on the dotted line, handed over $15,000 and never saw the money again. It was tough, but I just had to tell myself, 'it's only money.' It certainly won't just fall in your lap, but it's out there if you need it. If you want to take the jump into entrepreneurship and you're tired of the nine to five, just go for it. Just make sure you're doing it because you want to do it, not because you have to do it."