Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Adam Baker, Founder and CEO of SodaPup, located in Boulder, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
SodaPup designs, develops, markets, and sells durable American-made dog toys and feeding systems like lick mats and slow feeder bowls. Our consumer is predominantly women aged 25-55 who are crazy dog lovers! There are a lot of people like this, and dog ownership is increasing!
Tell us about yourself
My career was in product management in the sporting goods industry, working for Nike, UnderArmour, and Crocs. I've worked with some very successful entrepreneurs in my career and always wondered if I could create something from nothing. I picked the pet industry, where I had no experience and no contacts. But I saw an opportunity to apply the principles I had learned earlier in my career to the pet industry: putting the consumer at the center of everything you do. Create exciting products that speak directly to your consumer, and create marketing energy by showing consumers enjoying your products. This will pull the products through the sales channels.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Creating this business has been gratifying in so many ways. At the broadest level, we have created a brand that consumers are falling in love with. Not just because they love our products but also because they love that we produce 100% in the USA. They love that we give back to dog-related charities. On a more micro level, I love that we are creating jobs in our community and helping our employees along their professional paths - giving them opportunities to learn, grow, and take on more responsibility. Creating and nourishing our "community" at work is a huge reward.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
You have to learn to be a jack of all trades. When money is tight, which it usually is, you have to figure out how to do things for yourself. It's not like corporate life where there are other departments to take care of things outside your area of expertise. I get to be a product designer, an accountant, a forklift driver, and anything else that's needed to keep the business going and growing. That has gotten easier over time, but entrepreneurship is a lesson in humility. There is no job "beneath you." You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be realistic about what it will take. There is no such thing as "an overnight success story." Success takes uncommon perseverance and a timeline that is probably longer than you expected. Don't quit your day job until you're sure your business is going to fly.
- Hire good people who understand that they will have to be generalists in a young business. The job responsibilities are broad, and those first employees also need to be entrepreneurially minded.
- In the beginning, cash is KING. Be as conservative as you can with your finances. Grow cash reserves as much as you can so you can survive the ups and downs of the market and the economy.
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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