Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business?
As Vice President of Navy Federal Business Services, I lead a dedicated team of small business bankers who work each day with business owners to help them manage their money and achieve success.
Being a small business owner is tough work, and involves having knowledge in a variety of things such as money management, marketing, accounting and taxes.
Nobody knows this better than member Michael Botticello, a U.S. Navy veteran who started Custom Coin Holders in Millington, Tennessee. His products – handcrafted wood military challenge coin holders – have sold in 45 states and nine countries to thousands of civilians, military members, veterans, and their families. Custom Coin Holders continues to grow, and he’s spent the summer traveling across the country to get his products in Navy Exchanges.
Supporting Michael’s visions and dreams and seeing the success of Custom Coin Holders is the epitome of why we started our Business Services program. We recently caught up with Michael to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to manage Custom Coin Holders:
Jim: What made you decide to start Custom Coin Holders?
Michael: Woodworking has always been a passion of mine. I was in my garage one night building something for a friend. At that moment, it became clear to me that what I was building was almost impossible to find and very expensive. Being in the military, I knew there was a market for coin holders, so I moved forward with the idea of selling my products. Five years later and I think I’m on the right track!
Jim: What do you like most about being a business owner?
Michael: Supporting veterans – not just my customers – but employees as well. Over half of my employees are veterans. It helps us understand our customers because we also served our country at some point in our lives. I also enjoy making the leadership decisions that are necessary to ensure we’re moving forward.
Jim: What’s your biggest challenge as a business owner?
Michael: Managing the complexities of balancing the day-to-day activities while always staying focused for the future is definitely my biggest challenge. I think any business owner needs to focus on two things to stay successful: good timing and staying updated on current trends.
I like to tell people, “If you don’t time your business correctly with the right product or service, you’re typically going to be the last one standing when the music stops.”
Jim: What advice would you give other U.S. veterans who are thinking of starting their own business?
Michael: Do it. Depending on their job while on active duty, many already have the tools, leadership skills and knowledge they need to run a business.
I’m always asked if I have any fears of being a business owner. My take is that there are risks in everything we do in our lives. It’s how you calculate those risks as a business owner that will allow you to succeed. You need to be diligent, identify and overcome any challenges, and always think forward. It’s not much different than what’s needed to serve in the military.
Jim: What are your plans for Custom Coin Holders in the next five years?
Michael: I plan to continue getting the products we manufacture into military exchanges around the world. We also intend to start manufacturing several other custom wood products for a few civilian-based companies. This will allow us to enter untapped markets and expand and diversify the business.
Jim: What’s the best business advice you’ve received from someone?
Michael: Don’t give up. Find that one idea you believe is the next best thing and tweak it, sell it, fail, and possibly fail again, but don’t give up!
If being in business was easy, everyone would be doing it. It takes a lot of dedication and involvement. Many of my products are not hard to recreate, so it takes passion and clear vision to create my product and market it.
I was told no over 12 times when trying to sell my products at the Navy Exchange retail store. I didn’t give up and we’re now in 24 stores globally selling thousands of products. That spirit is what made America what it is today.
Jim: What’s one thing you wish you had known when you first started Custom Coin Holders?
Michael: I can name a dozen, but taxes stand out the most. Find a seasoned accountant who knows the rules and laws of how to prep your taxes early on. Wait too long and your business will be over before it started.
Jim: What do you enjoy about being a member of Navy Federal Business Services?
Michael: Along with being a motivated business owner, you need a motivated bank to create a solid business foundation. Your group is supportive, understands my banking needs, and most importantly is very personal. I don’t wait on hold for 25 minutes when I call. I speak to my banker who knows who I am, where I’m at, and where I’m trying to go.