Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Duke Armstrong, Co-Founder of Propello Life, located in Plain City, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Propello Life is a premium dietary supplements company creating products that help you live your best life. Unlike most companies selling protein powders and pre-workout products, we believe in a healthy and sustainable long-term approach to health and performance. We believe in "whole, balanced living." What we mean by that is that your health is more than just dieting and exercising. It is about your whole life – and it is a journey we all are taking as we discover what works for each of us.
A COMPANY THAT CARES: We serve the natural consumer who is looking for a company that cares about its community, its products, and its employees. In a world where corporate greed runs rampant, Propello Life is about connecting with its customers and its community. Check out our fundraising page to see what programs we have run over the years and the impact we are having on our local community.
PREMIUM NATURAL DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: All of our products are non-GMO, gluten-free, have no artificial flavors, have no artificial sweeteners, are soy-free, simple, and delicious. We offer a superfoods greens powder, a collagen coffee creamer, a certified grass-fed whey protein, a plant-based vegan protein, vegan amino acids, and a vegan pre-workout.
YOU GET MORE FOR LESS: We sell directly to our customers from our website and through locally owned, small retailers and gyms. Selling to locally owned, small companies and through our website allows us to create a strong community and deliver the highest quality products to our customers for the best possible price. By eliminating distributors and high-margin retailers, we are able to source the best raw materials and sell at competitive prices to the lower-quality products you find in big retailers. Plus, we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and free shipping on orders over $50.00
Tell us about yourself
I have always had a passion for health and fitness and was able to turn that passion into a career in the sports nutrition and natural foods industry. With over 20 years of experience working for Fortune 500 companies all the way to pre-revenue start-ups, I have seen just about everything you can imagine with how companies are run, how teams are managed, how products come to market, and what decisions go into the ingredients picked, the product claims, and everything in between. Through the experiences at the companies I worked for, and my own personal health journey, I developed the idea of what is now Propello Life.
Propello Life is rooted in my values around health and performance and is built on the best business practices I learned from the companies I worked for and the ones I wished they had. In the highly unregulated dietary supplements industry, Propello Life is grounded in values and morals that lead every decision we make. It is from this unwavering stance on quality and integrity that our customers can trust they are getting the absolute best products.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This may sound silly, but my biggest accomplishment as a start-up business owner is staying in business. I can honestly say that after 6.5 years in business, my single proudest accomplishment is that I have stuck with it. You hear about how hard starting a business is, how you have to half your sales forecast, double your expected investment, and so on, but this pales in comparison to reality.
Being a start-up business owner with no outside investment and no team to support you is like being on an island. There is only you to get things done, grow the business, and solve problems. It is nothing like working for a company with a team around you to get through the tough times and celebrate the victories. It is just you. The resilience and grit to build Propello Life from the ground up and to make it through the COVID years is what I am most proud of.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
This ties right into my previous answer - you are on your own. As a true start-up, a self-funded company, I have to wear every hat of the business. I am the head of sales, head of marketing, head of finance, head of product R&D, head of web development, etc... I have started to hire help with social media management and product R&D, and this is a breath of fresh air to work with skilled individuals again and to delegate work and responsibilities.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
My top 3 tips for any potential business owner are:
- If you are married, you need to sit down with your significant other and see if they are as committed as you are. The road ahead will be the hardest thing you have ever done, and your commitment will be tested, and so will the commitment of those closest to you. And if they are not committed at the same level as you, then you will be faced with making a choice between them or the company. You don't ever want to be faced with that decision!
- There is no such thing as work-life balance when you are a business owner. There is only "the business demands what the business demands," and I hope you get some downtime to spend with family and friends. This is especially true during the building years of the business when the money is tight. The balance portion comes when you "make it" and can hire a team of highly skilled people to replace you. But in the beginning, it is all you!
- Be urgently patient. What I mean by that is that you have to have the highest level of urgency to get everything done as fast as possible but be endlessly patient, waiting for results. So much of being a business owner is out of your control, and you have to be endlessly patient with this. But for the few things you do control, you have to be on top of everything you have.
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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