Ans: Active NW is a specialty run, walk and hike store located in Vancouver, WA. This location is our first and currently only retail location. Although we do have a website ( activenwvancouver.com ) where people can order online. We carry everything you need to get out and get active. We believe that anyone can be a runner, hiker or walker and we aim to help people find the right gear to meet their needs.
Q 2. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans: I have been an entrepreneur as far back as I can remember. In elementary school I used to buy candy at the store and then sale it at a mark up at school. I also had a lawn service as a teenager. My parents owned restaurants and I always liked the idea of being my own boss. I was a Navy Corpsman and upon leaving service I went into restaurant management. I spent many years doing this until I decided to go back to school to pursue a nursing degree. I graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing BSN. I worked as an emergency room nurse for many years until I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I started working on my Masters degree in sports leadership at Northeastern University. Afterwards I took a job as a ticket sales manager with the Portland Trailblazers. Not finding satisfaction in this roll I knew it was time to be my own boss. I developed and opened Ben’s Bottle Shop. Ben’s is a high end craftbeer bar and restaurant it also has 20 cooler doors filled with the best beer in the world. I have two major passions those being craftbeer and running. I have been wanting to open a specialty running store for years and the timing seemed right with Ben’s running well. I saw a hole in the market place, so I developed Active NW.
Q 3. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans: Opening a running store and a beer bar have been on the agenda for many years. After getting Ben’s Bottle Shop open I knew that I wanted to get the running store open too. The timing was based on getting ready for a running trip last year and I had to go to several different stores to get the items I needed. It was then that I knew I could make a better running store option for the runners, walkers and hikers in the area.
Q 4. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans: The number one piece of advice I would give a budding entrepreneur would be to follow your dreams and stick to your guns. There will be so many people along the way that will tell you an idea won’t work or that no way it will be successful. Also make sure you have a full business plan and to be as honest as possible when completing it. Try to make the business fail in the business plan so that you can see potential holes that might exist. Lastly be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked in your life. There are no short cuts to success!!
Q 5. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Risk taker is something that I think defines most entrepreneurs. Most of the time we are leaving good paying stable jobs to step out on a idea. Although taking a risk it needs to be a very calculated risk. You need to know what your weaknesses are and identify ways to overcome them. If there is a skill set you don’t excel at find good people to hire that will fill the deficit. If you can’t find them then find a way to get better at them by reading, going to classes, do whatever it takes.
Q 6. How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: This is a very tough question because as the owner you are never truly off. Time I am not in my shops I spend on social media, reading/responding to emails. If I am not doing that I am thinking about ways to improve what we are doing.
Q 7. To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: I think success comes to those who plan well and work that plan hard. I try to do this everyday while also adapting to the changes that are happening. I try not to get to stuck in and idea that I can’t adbanon it if it isn’t working. I also listen to those that work with and for me and not take the my way or the highway approach. I hired those individuals to make the business stronger.
Q 8. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: Marketing is one thing that is a continual battle. Social media on all platforms have worked well. I would say Facebook and Instagram have been the most crucial piece of marketing. However, I don’t under estimate the power of grassroots marketing. I try to be as active in the community as possible which helps to create a tribe that supports the business.
Q 9. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: Funding was through a traditional SBA and the capital was money saved overtime. The start up also required many credit cards. When starting a business, it requires some very creative money management and calculated risk.
Q 10. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Long term success I believe takes consistency. This consistency needs to run a thread throughout the business.
Q 11. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: I see myself owning several other businesses. I would like to get more Active NW and Ben’s Bottle Shops open.
Q 12. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: I admire any small business that survives more than five years and continues to thrive. So many people have their hands out when it comes to small businesses. The owner of these businesses are the last ones to get paid. If they can survive that long and start paying themselves its amazing.
Q 13. How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: The power of great employees cannot be stressed enough. They are such an important part of the company’s success.
Q 14. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: It truly depends on the idea. If it is an idea that has been proven else where in a similar model I would give it amble time to grab hold. I feel like unless it is obvious that it is a terrible idea at implementation and idea should have several months to yield results.
Q 15. What motivates you?
Ans: Coming up with ideas and driving them to completion.
Q 16. How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: Be open and a good listener. The customer will tell you what they want. While you can’t please everyone if you listen you can pull out common themes.
Q 17. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: My favorite part is coming up with an idea and then working hard to make it come to fruition.
Q 18. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: Opening both of my business. It was amazing each time to see the idea come to life.