It’s about knowing the right time

right time to start a businessThey say that timing is everything. We’d add that knowing the right time to start a business is priceless.

Rafael Figueroa know that he wanted to not only be successful in business and provide better for his family; he wanted to leave his own legacy.

He knew he wanted to use his skills and experience working with a regional heating and refrigeration company to start his own business. He had the industry knowledge and knew what it took to do the actual skill work of the business, but to be successful, he recognized that it would take learning the business side of things.

He had heard a little about the Kansas SBDC through Liberal Area Chamber of Commerce in Liberal, Kansas and on the radio and decided to contact Mike O’Kane with the Kansas SBDC at GCCC in Liberal. He didn’t know where to start and needed some help. Working with O’Kane, he quickly learned what he’d need to not only get the business started, but what it would take to make it successful. Because HVAC is a highly-regulated industry O’Kane took the time early on to work with Figueroa to research all the licensing and certifications necessary to operate the business.

After their initial work together Figueroa decided that the timing wasn’t ideal. And, while it’s tough for many individuals wanting to get started, he waited patiently until the timing was right.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Stay motivated, keep a positive mind set and be proactive in growing your business.–Rafael Figueroa

Figueroa didn’t give up his dream. Instead, he used the time to acquire his Master’s Certificate in Mechanical Contracting – something that by working with O’Kane early on he realized he’d need to obtain a City of Liberal business license. He used the time to save additional money and increase his owner’s equity so he wouldn’t have to take out any loans to get the business started.

When Figueroa was ready to launch he felt confident contacting O’Kane again to get help with the process.

Together they got the ball rolling and quickly obtained an FEIN and applied for the Kansas Department of Revenue sales tax certificate. They discussed record keeping and payment solutions as well as the overall organization of the business. Early on he decided to hire an accountant for bookkeeping, freeing his time to concentrate on working at the business.

In addition to the free consulting provided by O’Kane, Figueroa took advantage of the “Steps to Start-Up” seminar led by O’Kane at the Seward County Community College/Area Technical School and where O’Kane’s office is located.

Working together to get Heco Heating and Cooling off the ground in Liberal, Kansas, has been rewarding for both men.

Figueroa believes that by waiting for the right time to open his business he was successful from the start. By working with the Kansas SBDC and Mike O’Kane he was better prepared by realizing early on the timing wasn’t right. And for O’Kane this was great to experience. “It’s rewarding to see an entrepreneur plan for their business before they open and to see him become successful,” shared O’Kane. “I think Rafael is a great example for aspiring entrepreneurs who have recognized that they needed help and asked for it, used recommendations, and works hard and plans for growth in his business.”

And success has been good for the Liberal community. Since opening in 2013, Figueroa has purchased two service trucks and grown to add four full-time employees.

Figueroa has some great advice for other entrepreneurs, “Don’t be afraid to get help from a professional. Don’t hesitate to get started.” And for individuals currently in business today, “Stay motivated, keep a positive mind set and be proactive in growing your business.” Figueroa shared his keys to success: “Self-motivation, drive, follow your own road.”


About HECO Heating and Cooling

Business Owner: Rafael Figueroa
Nature of business: HVAC
Business: Heco Heating and Cooling
1510 N Fairview Ave
Liberal, KS 67901
City, County: Liberal, Seward County
Phone: 620-253-2123


About our consultant

Mike O'KaneMike O’Kane | consultant with Kansas SBDC at SCCC/ATS in Liberal

Mike has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Ft. Hays State University. He has 35 years’ experience in retail management and operations, including the position of President for two retail companies and is himself a former small business owner. Mike has expertise in sales, financial management and analysis, and cash flow projections.

Mike enjoys working with small businesses to help them start, run and grow their business. He can be reached at or 620-417-1955

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *