THEN:1993 Sales: $2 million
Talk about true love. Back in 1993, Carey Dean and his staff were working 12- to 15-hour days to get their rookie business, which organizes custom travel packages to classic U.S. sporting events, off the ground. The team's efforts were paying off, but Dean was running himself ragged establishing Duluth, Georgia-based Esoteric Sports Tours as a player in the United States and, at the same time, marketing the business' services to foreign countries. In short, playing the game of business didn't leave Dean much time to watch the sporting events he's so passionate about.
NOW: 1996 Sales: $3.5 million
Hiring a full-time staff of five and firmly establishing contacts as the business matured has given Dean more time to himself--exactly what this entrepreneur wants. "I didn't get into this business to see how much money I could make," explains the 36-year-old entrepreneur. "I fully intended to live an easier life at some point in time, and that's still my goal."
Dean attributes Esoteric's heavy-hitting sales to three things: lots of repeat business, a strong economy, and just plain getting his company's name out there. Dean has also scored on the international front, with overseas contacts selling Esoteric's tours to clients in Australia, England and South Africa--proving that sports truly is the international language.
What's his winning strategy? "We've matured in a lot of ways," muses Dean. "Our markets have become more defined, our relationships with contacts have matured, and we've learned how to say no instead of taking every piece of business that comes down the pike"--something only an experienced, successful business owner has the luxury of doing. Guess change is the name of this game.