Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Derek Tillotson, Founder of Haven Tents, located in Sandy, UT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At Haven Tents, our mission is to help campers make the most of their outdoor experience by making sleep the highlight of camping. We offer a range of proprietary sleep systems and accessories designed to provide a comfortable and restful night's sleep, no matter where you are. Whether you're a seasoned backpacker, a car-camping enthusiast, or simply looking to relax in your backyard, we have the products you need to ensure a great night's rest under the stars.
Tell us about yourself
My journey with Haven Tents started with a moment of inspiration while I was lying in a regular hammock. I thought, "this would be so much better if I was flat and didn't have pressure on my sides." From there, I began developing the Haven Tent sleep system. We launched on Kickstarter in 2019 and have since brought Zzzs to customers all around the world.
What motivates me every day is seeing the impact that our products have on our customers. It's incredibly gratifying to see photos and reviews on social media from people who are enjoying the outdoors and getting a great night's sleep in one of our tents. Ultimately, I'm driven by the desire to help more people connect with nature in a peaceful, sustainable way.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a business owner, I'm proud of the progress we've made in developing our product. Coming from a background in sales and marketing, I didn't have any prior experience in product design or manufacturing. Through the process of creating the Haven Tent sleep system, I've learned so much and have been able to bring something tangible into the world that didn't exist before.
It's incredibly rewarding to see how far we've come since our initial idea and to know that our product has helped so many people enjoy a better night's sleep while camping. While we've achieved many milestones as a business, I consider the development of our product to be our greatest accomplishment so far.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the biggest challenges of being a business owner is managing all the moving parts that come with running a company. While developing the product was a significant undertaking, there are countless other tasks that require attention on a regular basis. While I've been able to delegate some of these responsibilities, at times, it can still feel overwhelming. From managing finances to marketing and sales, there are hundreds of little boxes that need to be checked every week to keep the business running smoothly. Finding a balance between these tasks (and still finding time for family and other responsibilities) can be a difficult juggling act, but it's also a critical part of ensuring the success and growth of our company.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
As a solopreneur who has been through the ups and downs of starting, running, and growing a business, here are my top three tips for those embarking on this journey:
- Stay focused on your vision: As an entrepreneur, it's easy to get distracted by side projects or individual customer demands. We've made sleep quality our priority, and we are laser-focused on that goal with our product, marketing, and customer service interactions.
- Embrace failure as part of the process: Starting a business is not easy, and failure is a natural part of the process. Don't let setbacks discourage you. Instead, use them as opportunities to learn, grow, and ultimately make your THING better. Embracing failure with a growth mindset is essential to building resilience and achieving success.
- Build a strong support network: Starting a business can be a lonely journey, and having a supportive community can make all the difference. Seek mentors, coaches, and peers who can offer guidance, feedback, and encouragement. Joining entrepreneur groups, attending networking events, and participating in online communities are all great ways to build a support network.
Starting, running, and growing a business is a crazy adventure. By staying focused, embracing failure, and building a strong support network, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your dreams as an entrepreneur.
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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