Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristoff Fredrick, Co-Owner of Tico Clasico LLC, located in West Covina, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a partner in the Tico Clasico LLC coffee company, which imports and distributes high-quality and specialty Costa Rican coffee. Our customers are true coffee drinkers who appreciate the origin, quality, and notes of some of the finest coffees from well-known coffee-growing regions around the world.
Tell us about yourself
I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and the opportunity to start my own business began as my career as a probation officer was ending. My friend and business partner, Einar Bustamante, were discussing business ideas when he brought up how his father had tried his hand in the coffee business years earlier. Although coffee is a very competitive market, we started to do some research and figured that with the right supplier, we could make this work. Using his father's connections, we found a good supplier, and we knew we were on to something based on the feedback that we received on our product.
Starting and running your own business is one of the toughest things I've ever had to do. There are highs and lows at different points along the way, but I'm always motivated to keep going because this business is ours. I can remember years ago when I had to drag myself into work some days, be held over, passed up for promotions, etc. Now, I work for myself, and each day that I'm able to maintain and grow Tico Clasico LLC is a win in my book.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment, and one of the things that I'm most proud of, is surviving the pandemic. Starting a business can be scary enough, but starting one right before a global pandemic is a whole different ballgame. I can remember receiving our first large order of coffee a month before the pandemic started. My business partner and I had a bunch of plans to contact local businesses, attend networking events and spread the word about this great Costa Rican coffee, and then it all came to a halt. We were stuck in the house with all this coffee, and the world had basically stopped. That was a rough 2-3 years, but we survived when I know a lot of small businesses weren't as fortunate as we were.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
As a business owner, especially a small business owner, I'd say that it's very important not to get overwhelmed. Sometimes, you will have to push yourself to complete a certain task and walk away (for a time) from others. There will be times of frustration and confusion; just understand that this is all part of the process. Don't burn yourself out by doing too much, too fast.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The top three things that I can tell someone about starting and running a successful business today are to: do your homework, don't be afraid to ask for help, and be creative.
To be successful, you should know all the aspects of your business and be able to explain, in different ways, who you are, what you provide, and why you're either different or better than your competitors. Knowing your audience is also very beneficial as well because you may have to present your business in a different manner to a potential investor as opposed to a consumer.
As I stated before, try to avoid being overwhelmed. Sometimes, it's unavoidable, but you can really do yourself a favor by simply asking for help. I can't stress this enough because there is help out there for you. You just have to look and ask. The Small Business Administration is a great resource for small businesses. They have experienced people, from freelancers to executives, to answer any questions that you may have, as well as providing resources for your business needs.
Lastly, at some point in time, you may find that your business has hit a figurative brick wall. You may be in a highly competitive market, or you've just run out of ideas. Either way, you may have to think outside the box a little to keep going. The best advice is to take a step back and really think about what your options are. It's also not a bad idea to bounce the ideas that you do have off someone else. Someone from the outside looking in may be able to see things that you missed or provide insight from a different perspective. Being creative not only saved our business but transformed our business model.
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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