Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Paul Kivett, Founder of S2S Bagels, located in Stilwell, KS, USA.

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

We are an online-only bagel shop. We bake New York style water boiled bagels - perfected in Kansas. Orders are taken online and either picked up or delivered to customers' homes on Friday or Sunday morning. We only bake what is pre-sold. There is no waste. We bake the traditional plain dough bagel with sesame, poppy, and everything or no topping. We offer cheese toppings with premium cheeses on our asiago cheese, parmesan/pepper, jalapeño/cheddar, and Quattro Formaggio (4 cheese). We have a premium cardamom bagel with spice rolled in layers on the inside and also as a topping. We also bake the following premium fruit bagels on a rotating basis: cranberry/orange, cinnamon/raisin, blueberry, and pumpkin. We deliver to customers in Lawrence, Kansas, and almost all of Johnson County, Kansas. Some people from Missouri meet us for pickup in Kansas.

Tell us about yourself

I spent a year developing bagel formulas after I sold my printing and photography business. I tried a retail bagel shop about 25 years ago with the standard bagel, sandwiches, spreads, and coffee offerings. We had our bagels in Starbucks for a short time. I am not a "foodie," and there was no way to make money just selling bagels. The business closed after about six months. I always wanted to get back into selling bagels and had an opportunity to purchase some used equipment from the west coast. This time I build the bakery in my basement, and it is probably the neatest cleanest bakery in the City. I have some help once in a while, but basically, I'm the dough guy, the baker, the packer, and the delivery person. I love making great bagels. Bagels that look good and taste even better. I get up every morning to have a great bagel and a cup of drip coffee. I love that a lot of people have found s2s bagels and keep ordering.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Starting an online business from scratch and seeing it grow over the last five years. I made a lot of changes to meet the customer's expectations. I make improvements in the process every week.

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

I'm a perfectionist, and I'm always trying to improve each process: better photography, better website, better bagels, and new offerings. Striving to be perfect is very hard.

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

  1. Your original plan will change as you adapt to what the customer wants. You must be willing to change.
  2. Do your absolute best in every aspect; if the business fails, you will have NO regrets.
  3. When I sold my photography/printing business 25 years ago, I had 45 employees who loved working for me. Proved an exceptional work environment, have superior equipment and superior processes, and treat your employees like you would want to be treated. To this day, my previous employees still say that I was the best boss they ever had.

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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