It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, and amidst all the events taking place in our hometown of West Palm Beach, we at Halo wanted to share our experience as West Palm’s newest 3D printing startup.
We’ve come a long way since our grand opening in August of this year, but that wasn’t the beginning of the Halo journey. Halo has been around for a while. Even before John Calloway founded Halo Technologies, our company was a long time coming.
Ever since age 4, John Calloway wanted to be an astronaut.
This dream was how he pushed himself to achieve every day. Even though he was below average in math until middle school, he worked toward his dream — eventually graduating from high school at age 16 and achieving a pre-engineering associate degree at 18. That same year, John enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
At Embry-Riddle, he immediately jumped into responsibilities. He joined Aquila, a liquid propulsion project, and ERPL, the Experimental Rocket Propulsion Lab. Along the way, he also work in various non-engineering jobs, always learning and making valuable industry connections along the way.
John went through several iterations of company ideas before landing with Halo. Though many people never see an entrepreneur’s failures because they’re eclipsed by success, trial and error is a vital part of the journey. Before Halo Technologies was even created, John encountered many setbacks, and made sure to learn from them every time.
Cuts to Aquila and ERPL
The first setback to hit John in his entrepreneurial journey was the severe cut in funding that led Embry-Riddle to shut down the Aquila Project, and dealt a deep blow to ERPL funds and membership.
Not long after these two losses, John decided to put his academic pursuits on pause. He left Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and began pursuing his own entrepreneurial path.
Straightline was John’s first attempt at starting an aerospace company. He devised the business model and was bent on starting the company, but then gravity hit. He and his business partner realized that they were starting an engineering company, but neither was an engineer. It became clear that this would make it near impossible to start a business like this, so that was the end of Straightline Aeronautics.
Beamed Energy Dynamics
This was John’s next project, and it was a moonshot. Beamed Energy Dynamics was a company that would be based on research and development, and had very lofty goals. However, as he built out the business plan and realized that a company based mostly on experimental design that needed huge amounts of startup capital wasn’t practical either, John moved on.
After two scrapped companies and all the wiser, John arrived at Halo Aerospace. Like his other companies, John started with the business plan. He formulated the business model, and it became clear that Halo Aerospace, as an aerospace company, would have trouble thriving. After an analysis of the business landscape, John pivoted the company and broadened its focus — forming Halo Technologies.
Creating Halo Technologies
The path from Embry-Riddle to Halo Technologies isn’t the whole story, though. After John decided to pivot Halo from an aerospace-focused company to a broader, technology-based one, the journey just began. Here, in detail, is how John went from an idea to a storefront in the heart of West Palm Beach.
Decide on a business and its focus.
For John, deciding on a viable business took years of trial and error. In fact, for most entrepreneurs, this is how it goes. The important thing is to not get discouraged when an idea fails, and instead learn from it and apply the knowledge to your next venture.
Create your business plan.
There are many ways to create a business plan — here is a guide from the Small Business Administration and one from Entrepreneur. For Halo, John broke down the main business plan into short- and long-term, and set out monthly goals for the business’ first 3 to 5 years.
Become an expert & an entrepreneur.
While working on your business plan, make yourself an expert on both your industry, your business, and entrepreneurship. Read up on your industry, relevant news, and know who your competitors will be. Learn about entrepreneurship, too. Read books about business, failures, and growth. John recommends John Maxwell’s Failing Forward as a great resource for learning about business leadership.
Structure your business.
Choose how you want to structure your business. In the U.S., there are several ways to structure a business, from a sole proprietorship or LLC to a corporation or nonprofit. This decision is an important one — don’t take it lightly, and read up about all the different options before deciding which is best for you.
For starters, the SBA has great resources.
Pick your name and set up all the formalities.
Once you have decided how you’ll be setting up your company, it’s time to name it. There are a lot of factors that go into picking a name, from things like how it gets spelled to whether it’s even available. After that, start setting it all up — purchase your online domain, set up addresses and email, and start thinking about your logo. If you’re keeping startup costs low, most of this you can do yourself.
Register your new business.
Once you know how you’re going to structure your business and you have picked a name, the next step is to get it registered. This process varies from state to state, and from county to county. Make sure you’re familiar with the processes and requirements before you get started.
Once you’re set up legally, you can begin obtaining permits and any other necessary papers you need to do business.
Get the ball rolling.
As a founder, you’re going to have to do a lot of work yourself. The more you take on, from logo design and marketing, to business development and sales, the more overwhelming things can be. And while it is true that an entrepreneur is the kind of person that works 80 hours a week to avoid working 40, that doesn’t mean you need to tough it out alone. It’s ok to recruit others to work for you, as long as you keep proper documentation of responsibilities, confidentiality agreements, contracts, and anything else from day one.
Start promoting your company.
Promote your company both locally and globally. Though every business model is different, companies should not neglect establishing a presence either locally or globally. With Halo, for example, we established our company locally by working with friends, family, and local institutions like schools. And with an eye at borderless growth, we used social media. Social media is a great resource for small companies to start getting their name out there and drawing attention.
Always be course correcting.
Always reevaluate what your goals were, what you have achieved, and what your achievements mean for the future of your business. Don’t be afraid to alter or adjust your business plan according to current trends, financial standings, technology shifts, or whatever — just never compromise or give up.
Starting a business is not easy, and no entrepreneur’s path is similar to another’s. The important thing is to always be improving and driving forward. Move forward purposefully or fall forward accidentally, but never stay in the same place or go back to where you have been. Just like our team at Halo Technologies has been through ups and downs, we’re always moving forward and growing both our business and ourselves.