After spending over 12 years in education, Andre Gregory knew that he wanted to do something different.
“I don’t think I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I have always been a servant leader,” Gregory said. “I enjoy the challenges of leadership. When done correctly, you have the capacity to create win-win opportunities for everyone involved.”
Gregory’s passion for leadership drove him to create Garnet Management, a company that will enable him to open a Smoothie King franchise in Greenwood, SC.
“Having just started a company from scratch, I felt going with a franchise would supply some built in infrastructure/support,” Gregory said. “I narrowed down my choices to either a smoothie business or Dunkin Donuts. However, after considering my waist line and active lifestyle, I zeroed in on smoothies.” After reviewing his franchising options, Gregory decided upon Smoothie King.
His desire to start his own business led Gregory to do some research on the SC SBDC. “In NC, where I was living at the time, the SBDC is linked with the community college system, so I was familiar with the concept,” he said. So when he was ready, Gregory visited the Greenwood Area SBDC where he met with consultant Ben Calhoun.
“Ben helped me to launch Garnet Management by showing me how to better organize my business plan, develop the financials and connect with local financial institutions,” Gregory said. “And his wealth of experience and connections to the local business community have helped to keep me focused and grounded.” With Calhoun’s assistance, Gregory was able to obtain a $325,000 SBA loan from CountyBank.
“Andre was truly a pleasure to work with. One of the things that really stood out to me about him was his ability to adjust and adapt quickly,” Calhoun said. “Whenever our research revealed the need to make a change, Andre asked all of the right questions and adjusted his plan accordingly. Those traits will serve him well as a business owner!”
With ongoing support from Calhoun, Gregory aims to open his Smoothie King franchise the 2nd quarter of 2020. Currently, Gregory is the only employee of Garnet Management, but he hopes to hire 8 employees once construction of his Smoothie King franchise is complete.
“Within two years of opening, I would like us to be in the top 25 percent of all stores in the [Smoothie King] family. Ambitious, absolutely. Unattainable, not at all,” Gregory said.
Starting his own business and opening a franchise hasn’t been easy for Gregory, who has faced many challenges throughout his journey. “From a personal perspective I have to hype myself up daily,” Gregory said. “Since this is a franchise, you have a specified amount of time to get open. Having that deadline in your head adds to the anxiety.”
Despite the challenges he has faced, Gregory remains motivated and believes that his prayers and his support system have kept him motivated the most throughout the process.
“When I feel like something is insurmountable or just not going my way, I think about a story J. John tells about David and Goliath,” Gregory said. “When David saw Goliath, there were two possible reactions: 1) He’s really big! Oh no, I better run away. Or 2) He’s really big! How can I miss? It’s all about perspective.”