Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mark Zakaib, Owner of Survivor Filter and PurKlenz, located in Richmond Hill, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I have two companies. Survivor Filter sells water filter systems for outdoor and home use, and PurKlenz makes its own line of topical products in North America for the Tattoo industry and custom manufactures private-label skincare products in North America for the broader skincare and medical industry.
Tell us about yourself
In my late 20s, I finished up my Ph.D. at King's College in the UK while also working as a Political Officer in NATO's military Operations division in Brussels. In this position, I was working in a highly visible role on operations in Libya, Iraq, and Kosovo with high visibility. Due to family circumstances, I had to leave my job and academia and move back to Canada to start over again. The experience of being a rising star in your field to a nobody was a good thing for my personal development. It forced me to work harder, appreciate everything and takes nothing for granted. Starting from the bottom again, I had to rebuild myself. At this time, I started day trading, made a lot of money in a short amount of time, cashed out, and re-invested that money toward building my companies. This is how I started, but as I've gotten older, I have had the opportunity to fail more, which has also taught me more than if I had always succeeded. Learning motivates me, and the fact that I am healthy and alive is enough motivation to keep moving forward. Life isn't fair, but if you have the ability and opportunity, you should be grateful and motivated to work to your potential instead of believing the world owes you something. This is what motivates me each day. Gratitude that I am still in the game. That and knowing that my products and brands help people, save lives and make people happy.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We have provided disaster relief to thousands of people around the world for nearly a decade. Our water filters have helped save and preserve thousands of lives throughout the planet in some of the worst-hit areas by war and natural disasters.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Dealing with down times in business and keeping a positive attitude for yourself, your family, and your staff.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- "You spent so much time determining whether or not you could; you never thought about whether or not you should." from Jurassic Park. Do your homework, understand the industry and determine your competitive advantage before you decide to launch a new business.
- Learn to read a financial statement. Understand how to measure ROI. Cheap money has dominated the business sector for the past decade. That era is over in the near term. So now, companies may actually have to produce a profit to get funding as opposed to just generating revenue. So learn to determine what actually makes money and what just helps sales, and this will help you maintain profitability.
- Find a niche that is underserved and builds before the big players get in, and build your brand and customer loyalty to survive once they do.
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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