Serial entrepreneurs Courtney and Lance Windholz have a goal to buy or invest in at least one business every year, they said.
Both are busy with their commitments to seven companies to date, the duo said, along with Courtney, lead organizer for 1 Million Cups KC, handling the organization’s move to Plexpod Westport Commons. The rebooted event series debuts Aug. 1 after a month-long hiatus.
Along with her duties within the entrepreneur community, Courtney works as chief operating officer for PROOF, a marketing firm focusing on emotional data. Lance serves as general manager for software development firm BlackOps Development, and is founder of the Miles App and WYCO.
Together, they own HOODZ, a kitchen hood cleaning service, and Lionsgate Wine & Spirits in Overland Park, Lance said.
“I feel like we’re in a unique place where we’ve built businesses and we’ve bought,” Courtney said. “I think a lot of times, being an entrepreneur, people don’t see that world of buying and selling businesses as an option. We’re in this culture right now where everybody thinks they should instead start something and go out on their own — both are hard.”
Building a company from scratch takes more risk, said Lance, noting that when buying an established business, entrepreneurs have the potential to make a profit from the start.
With startups, however, entrepreneurs typically struggle just to pay themselves for six months to a year, he added.
The couple has identified several companies for investment by searching through projects on BizBuySell, which also is where Lance sold WYCO. They also have built equity through their software development services over the years, he said. “Instead of putting all our retirement in stocks, we’re putting it in small businesses that have long-term sustainability,” Lance said. “Those are worth something at some point in time. When we decide to retire, we can sell them or hand them down.”
Streamlining new ventures
The Windholzes hold a piece of Snow Pops, a KC-based adult popsicle company, which is currently overrun with more demand than can be supplied, they said.
The popsicle company plans to continue selling its frozen cocktails across Kansas and Missouri and is preparing to launch in other states to spread as a massive regional brand, Lance said.
Such success only leads to more projects, they said.
The couple is currently learning the ins and outs of HOODZ, with Courtney working on the financials and Lance developing experience with the more manual aspects of the service, they said.
“We’ll get things put together and streamlined to where it won’t always be like this,” Lance said. “But, when you buy a new company, you’re going to put in 80-hour weeks for six months until you figure everything out; putting the right people in place and you can start delegating responsibility.”
The couple bought HOODZ in March because of an interest in the franchise model and the work that goes into fire prevention and safety, Lance said.
With Lionsgate Wine & Spirits, the couple also spent months absorbing the minutiae of the company, putting in place personnel to run the day-to-day operations, he said.
“We look at long-term strategic growth; focus on figuring out where we want to put our direction, our emphasis, our customer experience, and then we’ve got a really good staff to carry out that vision,” Lance said.
He only has to be there when he’s thirsty, he added.
Wired as builders
Prioritizing balance is the key to managing so many commitments, said Lance, noting their lifestyle is purely reactionary and rarely laid out in process.
While Lance works fluid hours, often staying up late into the night, Courtney is more structured around sleep, she said, drawing strength in the day hours from networking and diving into the community.
The couple turns to hobbies like athletics and concerts to avoid burning out, they said, but the Windholzes admit they’re wired as builders.
Every project is a learning experience, Courtney said, noting they’re even dabbling in real estate.
“That’s a really easy way to start doing what we’re doing: buy a rental property,” Lance added. “Put all the money into a bank account in case something breaks, but you’re building equity in an asset that’s worth something and then you buy another, another, another. We’ve kind of taken that same model but across businesses.”
It’s all about maintaining a growth mindset and an affinity for the busy life, they said.
“There are days when I say, ‘Why do I do this? Why don’t I join a big insurance company, clock in and clock out?’ It would probably be really easy work,” said Lance. “But then Courtney says, ‘You’d be bored in like the first four hours.’”