I’ve known Sunny Nunan now for a long time, and I remember her telling us she was leaving her very cush corporate job to start something on her own. I can’t believe it’s been five years now, and Sunny is doing so amazingly well. She’s been featured on Forbes.com, and is getting ready to take her company, Core 24, outside of Dallas. I was so honored that she stopped by to share her story of the start, and hopefully inspire someone else to take a leap without a plan b.
Core 24 is about helping people find services for mid market companies. When they need find expertise in an area, they provide a list of service providers for them. However, these providers need to go through an extensive approval process before Core 24 puts them in front of their customers.
Sunny’s background in sales helped her connect with other businesses. However, she found this missing link in the marketplace. So she started to create value ads for her customers, like introducing them to potential customers, creating events, and great print campaigns, etc. It was those value ads that became more valuable than the core product.
She was frustrated in her job and decided to jump and try to build a business model on her own. She actually resigned while sitting next to her boss in the audience of an awards reception. She didn’t even have a business plan or true model, and it was during 2009 when the economy was tanking.
She took a big leap of faith and hoped that the net would appear.
What kind of approval process to you require for these companies to be listed within Core 24? There is a 7 step process these companies have to go through. They scout the businesses that could meet the requirements. There has to be a history, a great list of clients, a history of serving the community, etc. Then they invite them to apply. They do extensive reference checking. They ask a very extensive list of questions to their current customers.
The sixth step is likability. So even if you’re amazing at what you do, people have to really enjoy doing business with you. And lastly, there’s a formal offer to be represented by Core 24.
What has been your plan for marketing when you really have two distinct user groups? They really work to find entrepreneurs and business owners. They do a ton of market research and send out a lot of information via newsletters and blogs to add value and get attention of these people. What makes it difficult because they really don’t want a call from a service provider unless they really have the need.
How are you scaling the business because it’s local but could be nationwide? They’re in the process of expanding into Austin and Houston. They do a ton of research in how business services are purchased. They’ve found that businesses prefer to do business with services that are referred by a peer. They tend to usually do business with local because they can sit across the table from them. Yes, they could go to another business provider, but they’ve found that 9 times out of 10 they’re using local providers. The plan is to launch nationwide, but everything will be hyper focused to the local setting.
When you’re looking at non-technology businesses, people really face to face.
What’s been an obstacle that you’ve had to overcome? Innovating can create a lot of anxiety because you don’t know if what you’re doing is going to work or not. Steve Jobs said to connect to innovate and hope that the dots connect behind you.
Sunny had an idea called the Admin Awards, and although they seemed obvious wondered why they had never been done. Sunny has realized one great thing, that the more you try, the more you fail, and the less it scares you.
It’s hard to do things that have never been done before because you can’t see how others are doing it. You’re on your own in paving the path, and just hope that it works.
What was a time or moment when you went from pushing hard to gain momentum to where you felt the shift? The first three years were tough because they had to try a lot of things to see what would stick. Fortunately, she had great support from wonderful and patient clients. She had to make sure the product remained consistent. It was in her 4th year, when she realized that she really believed she delivered a solution that service providers really did need. She truly felt like she was making a difference. Her goal is for people to feel that writing her a check every year is the easiest decision they make. She finally felt like she had proven the model, and felt like she was making a difference.
What’s a tool that you can’t live without? Sunny is obsessed with her Macbook Air.
More About Sunny: Sunny Nunan is President and Founder of Core24, a Dallas-based company founded in 2009 that provides mid market companies with instant access to exceptional, vetted business resources through Core24.com, a single source business resource platform. Sunny is also founder of The Admin Awards, a program inspired by her Mother, a career admin, which was launched in 2012 that is the first of its kind to publicly recognize and celebrate administrative excellence among the Dallas business community. The program expands to Fort Worth in 2014, with plans to expand nationally.
Sunny lives in Dallas with her husband Ben and two kids, Sydney and Scout.
Get on the list, and we'll send you info when we open our next challenge!