Learn about Florida Entrepreneur Mike Ruckdeschel:
After a long career in corporate healthcare, Mike Ruckdeschel, owner of Fast Signs - Pembroke Pines, was more than ready to scratch his entrepreneurial itch. Born and raised in Tampa, Ruckdeschel relocated to Broward County while working for American Medical Response, an ambulance service provider. After AMR, he spent three years as the Airport District Manager with Avis Budget Group before spending five years with Baptist Health where he served as Regional Director responsible for the expansion of outpatient centers throughout Broward County. When Ruckdeschel decided the time was right to be his own boss, he put in his two weeks notice and never looked back.
"I always wanted to do my own thing," he said. "I didn't want to wait too long either. It was hard to give up a good job, but I knew that if I didn't do it, I'd regret it for the rest of my life. Once I made the decision to do it, I worked with a franchise consultant to identify opportunities. I looked at enough businesses to make your head spin. I ultimately decided on buying an existing Fast Signs franchise for the support from the franchisor, brand name recognition, good hours and working conditions and because no experience in the sign industry was needed. I took over as owner in 2012."
According to Ruckdeschel, the first couple years in business were rough. At the four month mark, production figures dropped significantly. He had some HR issues that eventually got resolved. Not having a steady paycheck was also a significant adjustment. Despite the ups and downs associated with owning and running a business, especially for the first time, Ruckdeschel weathered the storm. With the right mix of confidence and skills acquired from earning an MBA, with a concentration in entrepreneurship from Nova Southeastern University, Ruckdeschel stayed focused and remained optimistic.
"Once we figured out the right mix of products and services to offer and to what type of customers, the business started to grow," he said. "Today, we have a solid team that includes graphic artists, production staff and inside & outside sales reps. We do business with property management companies, hospitals, malls and many other businesses. The nice part about this business is you can hit a home run in any industry. You're not limited to working with certain industries."
Ruckdeschel thoroughly enjoys being his own boss. He likes the fact that he can decide what's important and what to focus on. With the ability to offer a variety of products and services including, Digital Kiosks, Displays & Menu Boards, Vehicle Graphics, Yard Signs, Trade Show Displays, Banners, Promotional Products, Content Development and Installation, Ruckdeschel is optimistic about the future of Fast Signs - Pembroke Pines. His goals are to double the size of his business, payback his SBA loan and to remain up-to-date in the face of changing technology.
What advice does Ruckdeschel have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "In general, don't be afraid to follow your dream," he said. "If you fail, that's okay. Failure doesn't define you. What does define you is your ability to get up and do it again. Entrepreneurship is not a walk in the park. It's full of incredible challenges, but you'll enjoy it more than the corporate world. I'd also advise aspiring entrepreneurs to highly consider buying a franchise. You'll receive a lot of support and franchises have a much higher success rate than businesses that are started from scratch. If you decide to go the franchise route, do your due diligence and talk to other owners. Lastly, success doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes it takes years to make a profit. Make sure you have plenty of working capital through the early years. If you think you have the capital you need, multiply it by 20 to get closer to what you'll actually need."
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