Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jese Stetson, owner of Stetson Forge LLC., located in Fromberg, MT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Stetson Forge LLC is a custom knife-making company that caters to the working cowboy and avid outdoorsmen as well as the chef that prides themselves on using quality tools. With every knife I make, the goal is to create something that can be passed on generationally to my customer's grandchildren. Each knife is made one at a time in our barn on our family ranch by me. I guarantee my blades for life, and even though they are meant to look like works of art, they are truly meant to be used and abused. My goal from the beginning was to create one-of-a-kind items that families can use to build memories together.
Tell us about yourself
I am a fourth-generation cattle rancher in South Central Montana. My wife and I are fortunate to run cows together with my parents. In ranching, one always is on the hunt to find multiple streams of revenue to ensure that they're able to hopefully pass on what they love to the next generation. That was the main driver of creating my knife company. However, I've enjoyed building things with my hands since I was just a little tyke.
My passion for working toward becoming a craftsman came from my Grandfather. From the time I was little, he was always making amazing woodworking pieces or fabricating something for a neighboring farmer in his welding shop.
The relationship between the smith and its medium has always been my place to find flow, concentrate on my limitations, and figure out a path forward to exceed them. This drive and determination are only attributed to my parents, who taught me the work ethic I needed to create to fail and try again without discouragement but rather a heightened awareness of learning steps toward successfully mastering whatever skillset it was I had set out to accomplish.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think that the hardest part of owning a business is the daily grind; having the grit and tenacity it takes to get something from a hobby/side gig to a full-time, self-sufficient entity takes a tremendous amount of willpower. The discipline to put in the early mornings and late nights, to save all the pennies you can, and continue to put in the extensive hours it takes to accomplish your goals takes a drive that many around you do not possess. I am proud of my ability to put in the hours and balance my family life at the same time.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest part of being a business owner is being able to juggle your family time and what is required by the business. It's something I work continuously at getting better at, but the sacrifices made are never just your own; my wife and kids have had to sacrifice just as much, if not more.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The best tip I can give anyone is not to start your business without a consistent outside revenue source. It's best to grow your business slowly as a side hustle while making ends meet with a normative 9-5 job, setting clear and concise goals for launch. I would also highly recommend focusing on the back end as much as possible (accounting & paperwork) right away. Paper jams during tax season can be costly; not knowing where the holes are in your ship can make it difficult to keep afloat.
Having solid accounting practices from the very beginning to help you determine where every dollar you are spending is going is monumental in setting yourself up for success.
The last thing I would highly recommend is learning not to tell the world your plans. Many people will look at you like you're crazy for leaving that job security you may currently have to chase a dream, be careful who you tell your good news with. If you want to fly like an eagle, you can't hang out with a bunch of turkeys. Find those key players that have elevated themselves to the level you aspire to and, befriend them, learn from their mistakes and their successes.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
At the end of the day, customer service is paramount. Do your best to underpromise and over-deliver; try to over-communicate with your customer and check in with them as much as you can in a real and genuine way. This is something I'm currently working diligently on in my own business.
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 email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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