Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mike Merwin, Founder of Crazy Mike's Beef Jerky Company, LLC, located in Altamont, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Selling my handcrafted beef jerky through local craft/vendor fairs, wholesale to local and regional stores, and retail through my eCommerce website. My customers are anyone who enjoys a high-protein meat snack with no added preservatives or artificial flavorings.
Tell us about yourself
From my origins on the family farm in Northeast Montana circa the 1970s, I have always loved beef jerky but had to settle for mediocre brands. I created my recipe in 1994 while in the U.S. Navy after a failed search for a great-tasting high, protein snack to re-fuel my body after exhaustive workouts. "Crazy Mike" was dubbed by my friends due to my passion for life and crazy adventures. Skydiving from 14,000 feet, scuba diving past 100 feet, marathons, triathlons, 100-mile bicycle rides, and globe-trotting underwater on nuclear submarines, to name a few! I am passionate about making a high-quality product and seeing the reaction when people taste it for the first time.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My first co-packer was a disaster, and I lost several thousand dollars. I almost gave up and just shut down the business. I knew I had a good thing going, so I persisted and didn't let the setback get to me and found another co-packer that was perfect. I re-launched my business and have achieved double-digit growth over the last four years.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
It's very time-consuming! I still have a full-time job, so juggling between that, my business, and my family life can be overwhelming at times.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't wait for the perfect time to start your business or make an investment to grow it. There is never a "perfect" time.
- Don't give up. There will be many setbacks. Use them as a learning opportunity.
- Seek assistance, find a mentor, and do your homework.
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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