Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kenny Coleman, Co-Founder of Bourbon Pursuit, located in Louisville, KY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Bourbon Pursuit is the "Official Podcast of Bourbon," featuring the best in news, reviews, and interviews with people making the bourbon industry happen. This all started as a winter project in 2014 between myself and my co-host, Ryan Cecil, as a way for us to learn more about bourbon. We focus on capturing stories by the personalities behind the brands people love. The show dives into bourbon culture with informed, captivating, and casual dialogue. We've grown to be the No. 1-ranked whiskey podcast. The show lives in the bourbon trenches, capturing the coveted affluent professionals. Listeners learn the next bourbon trends, great bottles and get the juicy scoop on all things whiskey. Whether you are a bourbon novice or an expert, there will always be something new to learn with every episode.
Bourbon Pursuit releases three new episodes every week to continually bring the most up-to-date stories and feature the latest happening in bourbon. Bourbon Pursuit is a Top 10 podcast in the Apple Podcast's Food category as well as Top 100 in Apple Podcast's Arts category. It is available on all major podcast outlets, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Google Podcasts, and more.
Bourbon Pursuit is also allowing us to move into our own whiskey products. We launched Pursuit Spirits in 2018, and now our award-winning Pursuit United Bourbon and Pursuit United Rye products are sold in 8 states across the country.
Tell us about yourself
I didn't expect podcasting to be a major part of my life. This was a small project that ended up growing legs. Podcasting is not for the faint of heart because it takes a long time to produce a high-quality show. There's a small investment in great equipment, but it's more of a time investment. Scheduling, recording, post-production, and promotion take a significant amount of time, and it's never over because you're constantly producing content. Over the years, I've figured out ways to streamline production through batch scheduling, using the right tools, and automating many processes. Not to mention, for many people, including myself, you won't make any money for a few years. It takes persistence and consistency to build an audience that will bring revenue. Passion can't be emphasized enough. If you enjoy what you are doing, set and achieve some goals, and have the agility to pivot, then successes will follow. What motivates me to keep going is looking at the growth over the show when I zoom out. From a daily or weekly basis, the numbers look consistent, but when I zoom out over a couple of years, it's cool to see how we went from a few thousand downloads per month to over 180k now! And now that I have taken the spot as the #1 whiskey podcast, I want to make sure we maintain that status by producing one of the best shows possible.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The content I deliver impacts lives. One of the most recent examples was from a listener who told us that he wasn't happy in the medical field. He was depressed every day after leaving the hospital, and his enjoyment was coming home, pouring a glass of bourbon, and listening to Bourbon Pursuit. His wife told him to pursue something that would make him happy. Within a few months, he's now a production assistant at a major Kentucky Distillery. I have a few stories like that where listeners find our show as an inspiration for their own lives. But, being able to pivot and having an open mind is critical. With podcasting, you will never know who is listening. One day I received a phone call regarding an episode where we discussed about a new brand. The person on the other line asked me, "Would you be interested in starting your own brand?". That fateful phone call has put us on a journey to building our very own whiskey company. We're now investing millions of dollars into inventory to have a product that will be on store shelves nationwide in a few years.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Everything comes at a cost. For me, I've found that I have become a workaholic. I work 70-80 hours a week between 3 jobs because I need them all to be successful. That has made an impact on my personal life because I don't watch TV, and when I do watch TV with my wife, I'm on my phone. It's tough to balance family life when you are trying to nurture and grow two startup businesses. It's a continual improvement process that I am working on to turn off work during certain times so I can be there in the moment.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
There are a lot of tips I can offer when starting a business, but the most important one will be finding the right partner. You have to examine yourself to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you can work with someone who balances out your weaknesses with their strengths, then you're already moving in the right direction. Podcasting has a low barrier to entry because it's some technical processes, but you also have to know how to run it as a business.
The second tip would be having a tenacious attitude. To grow a business, you have to treat it like a baby. Constantly giving it attention at all times of the day. There is no 9-5 when you have your own business. It's up to you to make it successful, so don't stop until you achieve your first goal and then set that goal higher. There will be bumps in the road but stay positive and be tenacious.
Finally, know your audience and build a community around it. Never tailor your product for the masses. Find that niche you're passionate about and own it. Find the smallest viable audience, establish yourself as a leader, and growth will follow.
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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