Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Darrell Kenny, owner of Stillwater Bait Co., located in Trotwood, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Hello, I'm Darrell. I own and operate Stillwater Bait Co. We are a small batch family-owned soft plastic bait company. Our customers are everyone from the everyday angler, the collector, semi-professional anglers, and small bait and tackle shops.
Tell us about yourself
I have always been into the outdoors and fishing. But as a teenager, I got really heavy into skateboarding and pretty much stopped fishing altogether. I would fish every now and again but had very little gear and was usually minimally interested.
A handful of years later, I was literally fishing for food, and 2 of my brothers, that are really into fishing, pulled me back into it. Eventually, I was fishing all the time for fun. My now wife was also very much into fishing, and we started fishing together. We had both talked about making our own soft plastics just for us and had been watching videos and reading about it for a few years.
We finally decided to pull the trigger and buy some plastisol and a couple of molds. We use only dead-on plastic plastisol and primarily epic bait molds and aluminum injection molds. We were documenting what we were doing on my social media accounts When I started getting people asking if they could buy baits from me. I told people no for a few months until I felt like I was good enough to make a product worth selling. Then we set up a website and registered the business as an LLC.
A short time later, my wife got another job, and I went to make soft plastics full-time. We are now in our 4th year.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think my biggest accomplishment so far as a business owner is making it past that 1st year that kills so many small businesses. We are still a pretty young company and have a lot of accomplishments and goals to go. Also, being able to do what I love from home, which allows me to have a job I enjoy and spend maximum time with my family, is also a huge accomplishment for me.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for me as a business owner Has been learning all of the things that I've had to learn to run a business. My job is a bait maker, but I have had to learn multiple other skills To make my job easier and more efficient. And although it is one of the hardest things I've come across as a business owner, it is also one of the most enjoyable challenges I've come across in life.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Three tips I would give to someone looking to start their own business would be:
- Take time to find out as much as you can about what you wanna do before you start. (We read and watched videos, following the craft for 2+ years before starting.) Make sure you have a good feel for it and know that it's something you wanna do for the foreseeable future.
- Be open-minded about ways that you can improve your business and yourself.
- Get an accountant. There are a lot of deductions that can help your business save money, and there are also a lot of laws that vary from state to state about what you have to do to legally run your small business. On top of that, your accountant can answer a whole variety of questions and also point you in the right direction for anything that they don't know.
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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