Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Raj Vable, founder of Young Mountain Tea, located in Springfield, Oregon, USA. In addition, Raj is an advocate for climate change.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We work with Himalayan tea farmers to make organic loose-leaf tea that we sell to American tea drinkers and tea companies.
Tell us about yourself
I started Young Mountain Tea with a promise - if a Himalayan non-profit would organize farmers to grow tea, I'd set up a company in the US to sell it. I'm motivated to create a bridge between rural mountain communities and tea drinkers.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We're taking steps to launch one of India's first farmer-owned specialty tea factories and recently secured enough funding to make it a reality. I'm so proud of all the people involved in this huge milestone!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Learning business finance, especially managing cash flow. The drumbeat of payroll hammers on, even when sales aren't good or unexpected expenses pop up. Money is a constant source of stress!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start your company with someone else. Don't go it alone. It's harder and way less fun to be solo!
- Make sure you understand what the customer actually wants, not what you think they need. We learned that the hard way!
- Nurture relationships with mentors. Develop a network of trusted advisors who have been there, done that, and then listen to them. Their expertise can be a huge shortcut, so you don't have to learn everything the hard way.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
People want a story more than they want a product. Crafting that story (i.e., your brand) is the most fun and challenging part because, ultimately, you're often telling your own story as a founder. So become a good storyteller!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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