Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with John Starling, Founder of Florida Watersports, located in Panama City Beach, FL, USA.

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

Florida Watersports caters to all fishermen, but we specialize in Premium High-End Tackle.

Tell us about yourself

I had a bad experience with another retailer in this business. Years later, I was facing a very difficult decision of what direction I needed to take my store. It was then that I realized I knew exactly who I wanted to compete with. In this area, the Gulf of Mexico is the main driver for visitors, so Florida Watersports was born. The name was intentionally generic to allow future flexibility. In other words, I didn't really know where we were going, but I was going to let my customers lead me.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Even though I own three businesses, my children have always come first. None of them will ever say I wasn't there. I truly believe that work-family balance is paramount if you want to be happy. Don't ever forget your spouse is your life partner. When I picture my future, I see myself holding my wife's hand, not ringing up a sale.

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

Keeping employees happy is a full-time job. I can do anyone's job, but I can't do everyone's job. I need my employees to want to spoil my customers. They won't do that unless they're happy themselves.

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

  1. Know your season. Don't overspend when business is good.
  2. Concentrate on your expenses. Remember that sales aren't going to put you out of business. Your liabilities will.
  3. Go home and tell your spouse you missed them today. You can't make good business decisions if your home life is a wreck. Don't ever forget you should work to live, not live to work.

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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