Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michelle Klieger, Founding Partner of Helianth Partners, LLC, located in Arcata, CA, USA.

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

Helianth Partners is a bi-coastal firm that partners with professionals across the U.S. to tackle some of the toughest challenges of our time. Our work seeks to create economically and environmentally viable agricultural systems that are future-ready. By discovering and deploying innovations that create more equitable and sustainable systems, we are transforming food, feed, fiber, and fuel production, distribution, and consumption. We apply our expertise in food and agriculture to support a diversified system that benefits small and mid-sized actors in the value chain – from producers to intermediaries to consumers.

Tell us about yourself

As an agricultural economist, I'm interested in how we produce, trade, sell, transport, and consume food. I study the incentives and barriers each player in the agricultural value chain faces and explore opportunities to change the system. These include public and private investments as well as market-based solutions. I am motivated by sustainable and resilient agricultural and food systems, where sustainability includes both economic and environmental aspects. These systems support rural economic development and better human and environmental health.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Growing from a solopreneur to a team has been a major accomplishment. I am proud of my work and believe I have a positive impact. Having a larger organization lets me reach more clients.

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

Managing the finances. It feels like the wrong answer as an economist, but contract terms, payment dates, delayed payments, etc., are all challenging to manage, and it only gets harder with a larger team.

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

  1. Find a community of entrepreneurs or subject matter experts to connect with.
  2. Create a business development calendar to help even out your workload over time.
  3. Give the business time to grow before you judge your progress.

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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