Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jason Sussdorf, Founder of Swamp Fox Tactics, located in Grass Valley, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Historically, Swamp Fox Tactics has been a self-defense company. I say "historically" as you will see the new direction I am taking as you continue to read on. I've spent the last 3 or 4 years conducting private lessons and putting on group seminars for women, real estate agents, teens, senior citizens, companies as a part of corporate wellness programs, and basically anyone who is concerned for their safety as they move about the world. Women tend to come to me proactively, they are always on alert for threats in their day-to-day lives. Men, however, tend to come to me reactively. They usually have had some kind of threatening experience that they didn't realize they were not at all prepared for until they were in it.
Over the last year, I added emergency response planning and training to my course offerings, as I'm always telling clients you must assume help is not coming. You must be your own first responder. You can do a lot to avoid dangerous confrontations, but emergencies are usually things we cannot control. Having a plan, supplies, and the knowledge of how to use those supplies are what we can control. I've trained for and experienced a wide variety of traumatic situations. I'm driven to help people learn to survive them.
Tell us about yourself
I began training at the age of four in my father's martial arts school. For 17 years, I studied the arts of American Kenpo, Kobudo (Okinawan weaponry), Escrima (Filipino stick and knife fighting), and kickboxing. During this time, I earned my first-degree black belt in American Kenpo and competed in numerous Kenpo and kickboxing tournaments. I then spent 10 years teaching Kenpo and kickboxing to students ages four to adult.
When the school closed due to my father’s passing, I spent seven years in the US Army, serving two combat tours in Iraq as a member of a special operations team, followed by four years as an Aeromedical Evacuation Technician in the US Air Force Reserves. I have served as a firefighter for the Yuba City, CA Fire Department and as a tactical medic for local agency SWAT teams. I knew I wanted to create something from the ground up, both for the challenge and to have a plan for retiring from the fire department. Swamp Fox Tactics was born out of both goals.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
When I started Swamp Fox Tactics, I focused on building my brand and website to draw in groups and individuals for lessons, both in person and virtually. However, over time I realized I needed to pivot and meet people where they are, most of the time... which is on their phones. So I hired a company to develop an app that is about to launch. While that was in the works, I focused on networking via LinkedIn with people who have a variety of skill sets and experience, from law enforcement to wilderness survival to homestead gardening.
Currently, I am in talks with dozens of people whom I believe have really important things to share with the masses. I see this app as a "one-stop-shop" for preparedness, resilience, and self-reliance. People can buy monthly memberships to the app for access to the content (videos, literature, and illustrations), and contributors are compensated for their submissions. Compensation will grow as membership grows. I'm excited about the potential as I enter this next phase of my company.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Hands down, it's been balancing my work and home life. I have two young boys (7 and 10), and they very much want time with me. Being a father is a privilege and my top priority. I see creating this business as part of their legacy, yet it's not at all easy to explain to their young hearts and minds why daddy can't play or needs to take a call, etc. It takes a lot of structure, communication, and support from my wife and me to meet all the needs as much as possible.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make a plan and execute. Do not wait for perfection, as it will never arrive. This may mean building the plane as you fly, but at least you're off the ground.
- Don't chase money... chase serving others. Money will follow, but being of service and bettering lives and this planet are what feeds the soul and has an impact. Everything else will fall into place.
- When I teach self-defense seminars, I tell people that I have distilled things that work from many disciplines around the world, and I cast aside what does not. Business is the same way. No one theory or path is correct. You're not confined to anything. Customize and personalize your journey. It will be way more effective and fun.
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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