1. Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Michael D’Asti and I am a Mad Scientist. I started Mad Science of Windsor, a franchised location of The Mad Science Group.
2. Why did you start your own business?
I was heading into my 7th year of supply teaching and I could seem to get hired, so I decided to hire myself!
3. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge so far has been ramping up sales levels to cover additional overhead and expenses when my business made the jump from home-based to operating out of a store front.
4. What was the biggest mistake you made so far?
Mad Science is a service business and I got side-tracked trying to create a retail aspect to the business. I spent a whole lot of time, money and effort before coming to the conclusion that a retail science store is a whole separate business.
5. If you could go back and change something, what would you do differently?
I would definitely want to have more operating capital to run the business in the first few years.
6. Which has been your biggest achievement so far?
I think that my biggest achievement so far has been the fact that my business has just celebrated its 10th anniversary! Aside from that, I am proud of the fact that despite being one of the smaller franchises in our system, operating in a city with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, Mad Science of Windsor has earned corporate sales awards the past 4 years runnnig.
7. What’s the best advice you’ve been given so far?
Early on I was told to decide which Mad Science area of business I wanted my location to specialize in (Mad Science has 6 areas of business) and to concentrate on that and to do it extremely well. Following that advice has allowed me to grow my After School Program business to the 3rd largest in our system for like sized franchises!
8. What advice would you give a new business owner?
I would advise them to do something that they really enjoy, something that they are passionate about and do it better than anyone else! It also helps if your spouse or partner is also passionate about your new business. And make sure you have adequate operating capital!
9. Where did you go for business support and advice when you started up?
I participated in HRDC’s Self Employment Assistance program and found it to be very helpful. I also picked the brains of other Canadian Mad Science franchisees and my accountant. Finally, I read as many books as I could get my hands on relating to various aspects of starting and running a business.
10. Which part of growing a business do you find most challenging?
As my business grew from start up to where it is today, the most challenging aspect was balancing the need to recruit, hire and train new staff (finding good staff too!), acquire additional equipment and increasing program sales levels to put both to work. Currently, the challenge is to find new customers and cross-market to current customers, so that sales do not stagnate.