Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chris Prascus, Founder of Soldier Boy Beef Jerky, located in Greensburg, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a meat snack company. Our customers are anyone that enjoys beef jerky - Typically, our customers are Males in the age range 18yrs - 40yrs of age that enjoy outdoorsman-like activities.
Tell us about yourself
I am an Air Force veteran of the 421st Black Widow Fighter Squadron, where I served on many deployments. I know how difficult it is to be far away from home. During my deployment, some of my best memories came from the care packages I received that included beef jerky. When I returned home, I knew that I could make a far superior jerky by combining my family barbeque with premium quality beef. In the years following, I worked to perfect my jerky recipes and established Soldier Boy Beef Jerky in 2016 with the vision of giving back and supporting our troops.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being able to give back to the active military as well as support non-profits like The K9's For Warriors Foundation - the nation's leader in providing service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Like any business, there will always be problems to solve or things to improve upon. As a small start-up business getting the name out there to let people know about your brand/products is one of the hardest and most time-consuming. Sure, there are social media platforms that can help drive awareness, but that still may not turn into a sale. You have to be out there on the street knocking on people's doors, letting them know that you exist.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Have a business plan - start with the basic idea and plan it out from start to finish. This may take some time, and that's okay. There are many organizations out there that can help you with the process. Look into local community colleges in your area to see if they offer any counseling.
- Finance - you don't have to have a degree in accounting or economics to understand your company's books. Having a clear understanding of what your costs are and will be as you grow will take the stress and anxiety out of the equation. Be ready to apply for a Small Business Loan even if you may not need it at the time. For Example: if you land a big account and they want to bring your brand into every store location, will you be ready? Do you have enough money to cover the cost of the goods you will need?
- Amazon - it's a necessary evil, so you might as well just jump on board. This may not pertain to every business, but if you have a product that can be sold on Amazon, find a 3rd party seller that you work well with. Vet at least three of them and see what else they sell. Customer reviews are necessary to keep your product from being pushed to the 4th page. And grow a thick skin because there will always be trolls out there that will go out of their way to leave unsavory comments and reviews.
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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