Lisa and Dave Burns live in Myakka City with their "furbabies." That's one horse, two dogs, two cats, two bunnies, two pot-belly pings, three ponies, four goats, five ducks, eight cockatiels, nine turtles, and "too many Koi to count."
And that's where Lisa and Dave run their pond business, Backyard Getaway, which they started in Bradenton in 2004. Like many local entrepreneurs, work isn't just work, but rather an extension of who they are, says Lisa, 46.
The Burns have two grown children (David, who works with them; and Carrie, who attends The Art Institute in St. Pete) and four grandchildren, ages 4-17.
When & how did you start your business
October 2004. We sold rental properties we
owned for the start-up capital. At the time we had a successful drywall
contracting biz for over 15 years. Dave was helping friends/family create
water features as a hobby. He loved doing it & would talk about
changing careers. We took almost a year to find the perfect location for
the retail brick & mortar.
One thing you'd change if you could go back in time
To not be so trusting and to get everything in writing. We were told
over and over by the property owner that he was not interested in
selling the property. A week before our lease was up, he told us the
property had in fact been sold and the new owners had plans for the
building. We had a couple of months to find a new location. We were lucky
& found a place quickly, but we had to move four in-ground working water
features & we had put a ton of our own money into the building to
make it perfect.
Your proudest achievements, one each for personal and business
Business: Winning the 2011 Manatee Chamber education/business
partnership for our donated water feature & class at Haile Middle
School. Dave & I are both very community-oriented. We have donated a
water feature each year since we opened the business to either a local
school or local animal shelter.
Personal: That's a bit tough. To me what we do for our
business is personal. Backyard Getaway is an extension of who we are
and what we love to do. If I had to choose one thing I would have to
say my kids.
How do you imagine your life in 5 years
I imagine it will be similar to my life now. Hopefully our property will be completed and maybe more time to enjoy it.
Advice for entrepreneurs
Research! Be sure to check out who your competition will be. Be patient;
it takes time to grow a small business & be ready to spend money to
grow your business, but most important be open to change! A good business
plan is essential, of course, but you should be willing to make changes
to that plan.
Would you sell your biz for $1 million?
At first thought I would say
YES. But then I would have to think a bit more, We've spent the last
seven years of our lives building our business name as a respectable
business. I would be concerned that whomever we sold to would not live
up to my expectations. When we decided to retire our drywall business, we
had a couple of offers to buy the name and customer list (it wasn't
for $1 million). We decided to retire the biz instead of passing our
reputation on to someone who may not give the same customer service we
What did you do before you had this business? When and what was your last corporate job?
We owned a drywall contracting business for over 15 years. Before that I
managed a hallmark store & USPO substation (both in the same
building) for about 10 years. Dave was working for a local drywall
Do you have a role model or a mentor?
Biz role model would be my father. He owned his own business for most of my childhood, showed me that it is possible to do what you enjoy & work for yourself.
If someone gave you $5,000 to spend on your business, how would you spend it?
Another tough one. We have so many things we would like to do. I think I
would use 2/3rd of it to finish up the display water features on our
property & the rest for advertising.
Lisa and Dave can be reached through Backyard Getaway, www.backyardgetaway.
net, 941-752-POND (7663) or Lisa@backyardgetaway.net.