Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andrew Buerger, Mission Missionary, Author, Keynote & TEDx Speaker of Mountain Dogs Marketing, located in Baltimore, MD, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Hmmm. That's a tougher question than I expected. I have a non-profit organization that takes volunteer fundraisers climbing around the world to raise money for promising MS and breast cancer research. Our "customers" are people looking for an adventure and getting to help give back at the same time. They just raise the base amount of money, pay for their plane ticket, and the rest is up to us. It's life-changing for people to do challenging things and help people at the same time.

I also have a company, Mountain Dogs Markets. I give motivational keynote speeches teaching entrepreneurial lessons that I learned while climbing mountains. We also help entrepreneurial consumer packaged goods companies (CPG) in the natural/organic food space with various parts of their start-ups.

Tell us about yourself

When my sister was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, her courage and strength spurred me to turn pain into a passion. I founded Jodi's Climb for Hope, which raised more than $900,000 for research by leading mountain-climbing expeditions-an apt metaphor for the struggles women affected by breast cancer endure.

In 2008 tragedy struck again when my wife Jennifer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Jodi's Climb for Hope expanded the scope of its mission into multiple sclerosis research as well.

On an expedition in Iceland, I discovered a cool Icelandic-style yogurt called skyr. I then came home, quit my day job, and developed B'More Organic, a for-profit company that made the first organic protein drink in the country with no added sugar. I fell in love with the Better For You CPG industry.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Running a start-up is so, so hard that we made sure to celebrate every accomplishment. My wife and opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate getting our products into Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket chain. We splurged for dinner when we got into Publix, the second largest food retailer. We had a glass of wine when Inc Magazine selected us as the #5 fastest growing natural/organic brand in the country.

But, I have to say one of our favorite accomplishments will be one of our very early ones -- getting B'more Organic onto the shelves at Whole Foods. I have always loved and admired that store. I never took for granted that we made it on those shelves of that esteemed natural food store.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Everything! If I had to list one, it's not being able to shut off. As a business owner, I slept like a baby. I was up crying at 2 am, 4 am, and 6 am.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

These are the three tips I provide entrepreneurial audiences during my keynote speeches. I normally use mountain climbing language to get the point across.

  1. Carry a Flag. We had a really high success rate getting our climbers to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro because we carried our flag in our pack to the summit. We also had flags with people's names who had died from breast cancer. We were motivated to get those to the summit. In business, that means you need to have a mission. And everyone on your team needs to know it and carry it with them every day. That includes employees, customers, and vendors.
  2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Running a business is so hard. Fortunately, I preferred the mental by climbing big, cold mountains that challenged me mentally & physically. Build your mental resilience to ensure your long-term success. Enter an endurance race take 1 minute cold shower, or do what Tim Ferris suggests and lay down on the floor at Starbucks for 10 seconds.
  3. Find a guide. When climbing dangerous mountains, I like to have a guide with us to prevent us from falling into a crevasse or getting lost in the dark when the trail goes faint. I did the same thing in business. I surrounded myself with mentors when I entered an industry that I knew almost nothing about. They kept me on the right path when it was dark and away from crevasses that I couldn't see. Don't be afraid to ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I think we covered a lot of ground here. Best of luck to everyone's expedition. Be sure to look back at the view behind you and appreciate how far you've come.

Where can people find you and your business?


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