Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mickey Kellerman, co-founder and president of Kellerman Consulting, located in Columbus, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Kellerman Consulting is a food safety and quality systems consultancy that has helped 550+ clients throughout the food supply chain to write, implement, and gain approval for their food safety programs and food safety and quality certifications.
We provide a turnkey solution to our clients so that they can keep a key customer, land a big new account, or raise the level of their food safety and quality program. We stay with our clients until they pass their audit or inspection – no matter what.
Tell us about yourself
I have a degree in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University with a specialization in data analysis. I spent the first 15 years of my career in various business and leadership roles in the financial and manufacturing sectors.
My brother and I both reached a point in our careers in 2016 where we were ready to start our own business. With Brian’s expertise in food safety and quality, and my business experience, combined with our shared values and the sweeping changes in the FDA’s food laws - the timing worked out perfectly for us to start our business.
My brother and I both share a passion for helping others, and food safety consulting provides the perfect vehicle for that passion. My brother and I get to solve our clients’ toughest food safety and quality issues. We get to help our employees in their professional development, we get to help each other run our business, and we get to play a part in keeping our food supply safe.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
By far, our biggest accomplishment as business owners is building an incredible team. Our employees all live our values of honesty, transparency, accountability, supportiveness, responsiveness, and relentlessness each day. There is nothing that makes us more proud.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest parts for me in being a business owner is saying no to new opportunities that are not a good fit. In the first few years in business, we said yes to pretty much every opportunity that came our way. We learned the hard way that a short-term gain in revenue can sometimes be very harmful to your business if the business relationship with your client is not built on mutual respect. There are a number of different reasons that a project can go sideways, and learning how to unearth potential red flags during the sales process and then having the discipline to walk away from an opportunity when you identify a red flag is essential to long term success and sustainability.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you have the right amount of capital set aside to give yourself enough runway to get some positive momentum for your business. When we started our business, we had zero clients and zero revenue. The first three months we were in business, we only brought in 3 accounts which was not nearly enough new accounts to provide proof of concept for our business model or be sustainable for our company. Thankfully, we had enough capital in place to afford us the time to make some tweaks to our value proposition. For the next three months, we brought in 25 new accounts.
- Set the core values of your company at the very beginning of the planning phase of your company and do not waver from them. Your core values are your north star, and they will help you make the toughest decisions.
- Invest heavily in your people - that includes paying them well, letting them share financially in the success of your business, providing them solid benefits, and paying for their training. Having the right people in the right roles is one of the most important factors in having a successful business.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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