Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in the supply chain but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ralph Asher, Founder of Data Driven Supply Chain LLC., located in Minneapolis, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is Data Driven Supply Chain LLC, based in Minneapolis - St. Paul, Minnesota. It is a consulting firm that uses data science and artificial intelligence to help clients tackle their toughest supply chain problems. Problems may include:
- Supply Chain Network Design - where to put facilities and how to use them.
- Inventory Optimization - how much inventory to hold at each location, by item.
- Manufacturing Optimization - how to get more product out of the same plant.
- Delivery Routing.
Clients range from startups to highly respected Fortune 500 companies and stretch from Minnesota to California to Norway. Client industries include CPG, agriculture, auto parts, food processing, electric vehicles, water tech, and more.
Tell us about yourself
Prior to starting the business, I worked in this field in the corporate world for eight years - first at General Mills, then at Target. When COVID hit, I saw that the supply chain shocks were creating first-mover advantages in the supply chain analytics field, so I decided to move when I could.
I am energized by seeing opportunities out in the distance and planning how to capitalize on those opportunities. I see several major trends in the fields of data science and supply chain management, and I want to orient my company at their confluence.
Additionally, I enjoy the flexibility and sense of empowerment that entrepreneurship brings. That means that I can help my clients improve their supply chain through innovative methods that their competitors aren't using. That means I can spend some of my company's resources building analytical capabilities that I know will help my clients in the future.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Helping my clients understand new possibilities with their supply chains.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Marketing and sales! It's an acquired skill. Even if you have experience in sales in other contexts, it's different when you're now the owner.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Understand the gaps in your education and actively seek to improve on them. You may not be in college, but there's nothing stopping you from finding an introductory corporate finance textbook and reading it cover to cover. Subscribe to newsletters and blogs in the areas you aren't strong in.
- Understand that not all advice is good advice. Listen, but evaluate afterward. Ray Dalio has some great guidance on how to evaluate advice and opinions.
- Readers are leaders! If you aren't continually learning and growing intellectually, you're stagnating. For me personally, working in a technical field that services a particular business function, I need to be growing in multiple fields simultaneously. You can't do that without being a constant reader.
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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