Small Business Profile: Inscriptagraphs
Founder Tyler Feldman makes sure to have the funds to pay off his credit card balance even before he puts charges on them
Erica Sandberg is a prominent personal finance authority and author of “Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families.” She writes “Small Business Credit Profiles,” a weekly column featuring small business owners' journey with credit and credit cards for CreditCards.com.
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Tyler Feldman is a born entrepreneur. As a child, his first venture was selling Spice Girl lollipops to the neighborhood children. But he also had a passion for collecting baseball cards.
When all his friends were off playing sports, he was immersed in the new baseball card shop in town. There he learned the ins and outs of the business. At the age of 15, he began working at a memorabilia and apparel company, outselling employees who had been there for many years.
At the age of 23, Feldman launched Inscriptagraphs, a one-of-a-kind celebrity and sports memorabilia store located inside Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas.
“I have not looked back,” says Feldman, four years into the venture. “I now manufacture standout products and work with professional athletes to produce their own memorabilia lines.”
Inscriptagraphs is positioned in one of the most well-traveled retail spots in the world, but the company also has a major online presence. To constantly branch out and maintain steady growth, Feldman appreciates another type of card: Credit.
See related: Small Business Credit Profile: Emily's Maids
What was your startup process like?
At 23, who has a ton of money, right? I was in college, working full-time and trying to make it with little financial support from my family. I saved what I could, but it wasn't a ton. When I decided to start the company, I opened up a credit card, but only got a $5,000 limit because I had student loan debts and was making less than $40,000 a year. But that’s how I launched Inscriptagraphs – with that credit card and $5,000 I had saved.
While I’m not frugal, I never spent beyond my means. If I couldn’t afford something, I wouldn’t buy it unless I had the money in my savings account. I was very worried about the credit line; I knew I was taking a risk. Leaving my job to open my own business was extremely scary, so I did not spend more than $10,000 (savings plus the credit line) in total to fund my business. As soon as I had any sales, the first thing I did was pay back my credit card, before I even paid myself, to avoid getting into debt.
Which credit cards do you have and use? Why did you choose them?
I am an American Express guy all the way! My first card was the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express. I loved it for the automatic cash back I received monthly. You don't have to wait a whole year to receive the rewards. This card is also great because it offers purchase protections and extended warranties, and no annual fee. It helped me fund my business in the first few years. As Inscriptagraphs grew, American Express was very generous with higher credit lines. Nothing like buying power for big business endeavors!
I have since moved on to The Platinum Card® from American Express and could not be happier, as I’ve become an avid traveler. I work and play hard and enjoy everything life has to offer. For every dollar I spend, I earn points and take advantage of the perks, such as exclusive vacations around the world at a fraction of the price. It includes entry into airport lounges where you have a comfy place to relax as you travel to your destination. They have free food and drinks along with a place to shower and change if you like. The Platinum Card is a dream come true, but I had to earn it through hard work and responsible charging. It has an annual fee, but the rewards and benefits are worth every penny.
Tip: Getting a business credit card is easier than you may think. Whether you have a small business with a few employees or you're a gig economy worker, learn if getting a business credit card is right for you.
Speaking of those rewards – what are you doing with them?
Rewards are my favorite part about credit cards! I’m less into the cash and more into the points these days. This year alone, I used my cards enough to pay for a free round-trip ticket from Las Vegas to London along with some nights at hotels, just because I used my card for purchases instead of cash and debit cards.
A couple of years back, I was moving into a house and needed a bunch of things for my new home, so I cashed in the points and got a brand-new 65" flat screen TV. If you are going to buy things, you might as well be rewarded by using a piece of plastic each day. So, I put everything on my credit cards. I pay them off each month, so I can reap the great things my credit cards offer, and that also helps build my credit rating.
Any advice for other business owners about credit reports, scores, cards, etc.?
You have to manage credit cards correctly. I use them to fund my business expansions instead of taking out business or personal loans. I’ll charge the investment item but will line up the sale before I even have the item in my possession. Once sold, I pay off the credit card before my statement arrives. I’ve used this technique for years, and it has made my business successful.
A credit card can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Pay the bill off as soon as possible so your accounts don’t accrue any interest. Otherwise, you’ll get in a hole and have to dig yourself out. As long as you treat the credit card as a rewards system rather than as something you must rely on to survive, you are making a smart choice.
I look at it this way: Either I pay Mr. Credit Card Company his interest, which will cut into my profits, or I pay the bill off quickly and sit back and relax on a beach in the Caribbean with the rewards Mr. Credit Card Company paid me to use his card!