Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in sports and recreation but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sidney Elofson, Co-Owner of Picklebarn, located in Mankato, MN, USA.

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

The Picklebarn is an indoor pickleball facility. It has eight professional pickleball courts, a fitness room, a pro shop, locker rooms, a conference room, and a kitchen. The Picklebarn sits on eight beautiful acres for outdoor yard games, food trucks, and more! We are the first completely built for pickleball club in the midwest! It is a place for families and friends to be active and enjoy life together.

Tell us about yourself

Growing up, I lived to play sports. Am I the best athlete to ever live? Of course not, there can only be one Roger Federer. I love everything about sports. I love the life lessons it teaches youth, I love the competitive battle, and most importantly, I love how it brings people together. Sports and being active benefit all ages physically, mentally, and socially.

My husband, Mitch, and I met very young, and we always dreamed of opening an athletic club together. We both played tennis growing up and played pickleball for the first time while working at a tennis academy in Florida. We instantly loved it! We chose to open a pickleball facility because it encompasses everything we love about athletics, and it even allows people from all walks of life to experience it together!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our biggest accomplishment is honestly just getting to where we are in our business. Committing to take on a multi-million dollar project at 28 with no business degree is scary! I think overcoming the fear of failure and what others would think to chase our dream is an accomplishment in itself!

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

The hardest thing we have had to overcome is the doubts that creep in when the business starts slow. It is easy to trust your business model when you are planning, but once the doors open and business is slow, your faith is put to the test. Bills are approaching, and you start to think, "what have I done?" It is so easy to fall into a "woe is me" phase which starts to hurt your productivity. It took everything I had to snap out of it. I started to force myself to find things to be grateful for. I focused on the people who did come through the door, the first time we met our quota for the day, a friendly neighbor who came to walk our dog a few days a week, and even the beautiful sunsets we would get every night.

The biggest thing I tried to see was the people enjoying what Mitch and I built. There was a grandpa happily playing ping pong with his granddaughter the second weekend we were open, and it almost brought tears to my eyes. I was so exhausted, but that simple moment made a huge impact on my mindset. Am I still nervous now and then? Of course! But I can remember now why we started.

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

This is a great question! The first tip would be, before you start, to think about all possibilities. Are you willing to take the risk with different outcomes? Do all your research ahead of time so you can feel confident when things get tough.

The second tip is to make sure to find a good team that you trust to surround yourself with and go to for help. Mitch and I have no degree in business, and there are many things that we go to others for advice on. Make sure to find a group of people you can trust and have knowledge in areas that you may be lacking.

Lastly, trust the process and stay the course! It is a tough road ahead, but the outcome will be worth it. Doors will open and close, but the only way through is to stay committed to making the business work!

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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