Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andrew Senecal, Owner of Pepperell Bees & Honey, located in Pepperell, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a beekeeper. I raise my own queens and honeybee colonies. I produce local raw honey. My partner Melissa makes lip balm, muscle rub, and soap from our honey and beeswax. Most of my customers are local, but we do have people who order from as far away as Florida and California.
Tell us about yourself
I first got interested in bees as a child on a trip to Florida. We drove by a field full of boxes of beekeepers and bees. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I started taking beekeeping classes at the beginning of 2020. When lockdown became imminent, I decided to dive right in. I'm a recovering alcoholic. The thought of being on lockdown with nothing to do or running out of things to do and liquor stores open was enough for me to want to do something productive with my time.
As soon as I started learning about honey bees, I was hooked right away. I quickly started building my own equipment, bought a couple of queens to do splits then started raising my own queens before the end of the first season. I am also a full-time bricklayer but hope to transition into full-time beekeeping within the next 5 to 7 years. What motivates me is the love of bees and learning something new about them every single day. I could go my whole life without knowing everything about bees.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment in this business would be keeping my bees alive through the winter by preparing them properly in the fall. I have a 90% survival rate overall which is pretty good for a beekeeping business. I have gone from two queens and 6 lb of bees (two packages) to 50 colonies and projected 100 colonies before the end of this season.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for me is paperwork. I am not a paperwork or computer guy. I like to build things, be outside and get my hands dirty.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The top three tips would be that your time is no longer your own. However long you think something is going to take you, it is probably going to take you longer. Be vigilant about efficiency. Spend the time to find lower prices and better deals. Pennies add up. Customer service is important when it comes to shipping out as fast as possible or spending a bunch of time talking on the phone to somebody because they have questions. Don't blow off your customers. They are your biggest assets.
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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