Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in hand-crafted spirits but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Susan Sledge, owner of Sledge Distillery, located in Tolar, TX.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We make hand-crafted spirits according to a family recipe perfected in World War II. My father-in-law made plenty of moonshine in the South Pacific while in the Air Force. When he came home, he married a sweet (religious) girl who made him give up his moonshining ways. When he passed away a few years ago, we found his hooch recipe in his WWII footlocker. That started a hobby that went wild! Now we make handcrafted spirits including moonshines, flavored moonshines, whiskies, and bourbon. Our customers become like family and we share the process of distilling with them so it is a personal connection with the product.
Tell us about yourself
We are serial entrepreneurs. Our first business was an ostrich ranch. Crazy, right? Well the meat market was being established and we took a risk in raising them. It paid off for a while but the market didn't really take off in the US. Our next business was hospital grade air filters for your home. This business took off and we sold it. Fast forward a decade and the whiskey business was born. This is my hobby...…we enjoy having a side hustle while working for "the man". Maybe one day we will quit corporate America but for now it's a good gig.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Employing others is the greatest reward. We do work for large corporations as well and have seen some of the crazy things they do, especially concerning employees. We want to run the company where people go before processing and even profit!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Keeping up with the speed of growth. If you feel like things are manageable, you probably aren't being innovative.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Don't get greedy. With other businesses, we got excited about the potential to make more (and more and more) and it clouded our judgement. We try to make decisions that are good for the present. There is a focus on where we want to go from here but it doesn't drive the decisions I'm making for right now. If I make the best decision now, it becomes the base for the future.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The discomfort with not trying something is way worse than the fear you feel from jumping in.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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