Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amanda Kroeker, Owner of ARK Nutrition Inc., located in Quill Lake, SK, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At ARK Nutrition, we work with the cattle, horses, and specialty livestock that we see on-farm. In our nutrition practice, our nutritionist will go on-farm and assess cattle and/or horses and set up nutrition plans with the clients to achieve their individual goals for their operations. We develop feeds for our customers that can be customized for their operations. In addition, we offer a wide range of commercial feeds that are available if it works for their particular farm. Our goal is to ensure our customers have the necessary components required to make informed nutritional and financial decisions that are suitable for their farm and/or barn.
Tell us about yourself
I am a professional Animal Nutritionist with 20 years of experience working with cattle and horses. Growing up in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, I was able to work around horses spending all my spare hours working at a veterinary clinic while I was in high school, thinking I was going to definitely be a veterinarian, not realizing there was an incredible career as an Animal Nutritionist waiting for me. Once I got into university and, in particular, my last year of undergraduate Animal Science, my supervisor encouraged me to pursue Animal Nutrition as a career instead of Veterinary Medicine. After my Master of Science degree in Animal Science, I decided to start my business ARK Nutrition.
Most junior nutritionists go off to work at feed companies to get their feet wet and learn the ropes, but not me, I jumped into the deep end by starting a business and learning how to navigate feed sales and trying to earn new clients. Big learning curve but through those challenges, I developed solid life-long clients that have become like family to ARK Nutrition. What motivates me is the new ideas that I get to deliver to my clients and the prospect of developing products to market; although I might still be a small business, I am proud to say it is one that I built with hard work and integrity.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This is a hard question. Given our 20 years in business, I believe we have several big milestones that would highlight our company. One big accomplishment is the development of our feed product line. This took a lot of planning and execution. Our foundation feed products continue to sell well in the marketplace, so I feel rather pleased with our feed products and how we have grown over the years.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
When you are running a business with limited staff or if you have decided to run the business as a small business with limited staff which means the owners may wear many hats, such as bookkeeper, receptionist, sales, etc. This component of operating as a small business can get to be challenging, and as a business owner, it does feel a bit like the day never ends. My business partner and I have intentionally kept our business small as we want to be a small business, but this means long hours. Every business owner has to decide how much control they are willing to give up in order to allow their business to grow and thrive, and this can be a hard thing to overcome when you are passionate about the foundation of your company.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Starting out, I would ensure that everything I am providing to the market, whether it is a product or service, is going to be filling the needs of our customers. I mention this as we have seen over the last 20 years our customers have evolved, and we have had to adapt our nutrition practice.
Also, I would highly recommend getting a great accountant and an accounting program that you feel comfortable working in so that you and your accountant can be on the same page monthly about your accounts.
Once you know whether you want to be a 1-2 person business or a 20+ person business will factor in the ability for you to decide how well you can give others control over your business. This is critical for growing the business. Be consistent and prompt, and provide high-quality work. This was important when I started 20 years ago, and it is still important now. Customers want to know that you care, you are there for them, and that your business shows integrity.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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