Are Business Plans are Necessary…Stewart and the Entrepreneurs

Matthew Stewart is an Arts Entrepreneurship student at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts. In this series of interviews, Stewart seeks to identify if the three creative entrepreneurs he interviewed began with a business plan and if they think plans are necessary. At the end of this post, Stewart shares his analysis. 

Interview with Brenton from Live Tribal           

What defines Tribal? What is your core value?

Right from the start, we wanted our core value to be community and building relationships with people, which is why we decided to name it Tribal (that and my partner is a member of the Chickasaw Nation). We throw around the terms “authenticity” and “accessibility” a lot. The last thing that I’d say is our core value is our motto: “Nourish Yourself Change the World.” If you nourish yourself, the world gets the real you. One thing that is difficult when you’re starting a company like this is keeping you’re core values and mission in mind throughout the whole process. The day-to-day activities sometimes can distract you from the bigger picture, so it’s really important to keep your values and purpose in mind every day.

What inspired the idea for Tribal? What made you want to start this company?

One thing that I’ve kind of picked up on from talking with other entrepreneurs is that entrepreneurship is something that is in your DNA. I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, and there’s a kindred spirit amongst people like us. So then it becomes more of a question of what vehicle will allow you to become an entrepreneur. If you and I wanted to go to NYC, we could drive, fly, walk, hitchhike, bike, or take a train. But no matter which vehicle we decide to use, we are going to end up getting to NYC. I think entrepreneurship is the same way – you just have to decide which vehicle will get you where you want to go and for us, that was juice. My partner and I were both very health conscious and, at one point, got really into cold-pressed juice, and it became the vehicle we chose.

Did you have a business plan when you started? Do you think they’re necessary?

We did have a plan, and yes I do think they are necessary. You make business plans to guide yourself, but for the most part they are there to appease investors. When you’re on the ground floor, it doesn’t matter how well you planned; things can get blown up very quickly. Things happen that you cannot expect – if you can’t evolve every day you will go extinct.

Three Pieces of Advice?

First, Don’t get too high or too low. Things come in waves, you need to stay even-keel through it all. Second, find yourself other entrepreneur buddies. Reach out and talk to them all the time. Third, don’t put yourself in a box or allow others to put you in a box. Follow your vision, believe in yourself, and be wary of others’ advice. Don’t waver from your vision.

Interview with Journii Walker and Jackie Robinson From Ra Roots

What defines Ra Roots? What is your core value?

Journii: Our core value is to help others live the best life they can possibly live. We are a family, and w are not driven by profit. We are driven by the desire to make our community healthier and happier. In college, I developed a severe case of acid reflux and juicing completely changed my life. I wanted to share this knowledge and bring it to my community to help change other people’s lives as well.

Jackie: We decided on the name Ra Roots because it explains the meaning of our brand. We named it after the Egyptian sun god, Ra, because all energy and life comes from the sun. We wanted our juice to embody that energy and vitality to give life to our customers and give back to the earth.

What sets you apart from your competition?

Journii: We are community and customer focused. We are not profit driven – our mission is at the core of everything that we do.  We do not cut corners, and we only use the freshest fruits and vegetables.

Jackie: Another thing I want to add is that we are focusing on kids. We believe that if we get kids juicing and making healthy decisions at a young age, they will grow up to continue that lifestyle. This is crucial to our mission.

Did you have a business plan when you started? Do you think they’re necessary?

Journii: Yes we did, and yes they are very necessary. In my first business, we didn’t have one, and we regretted it. It would have saved us a lot of time and money, and it would’ve helped keep us on track toward our goals.

Jackie: I think they are especially necessary for getting funded. It’s not something that I use on a day-to-day basis, but it’s good to plan what you are doing step by step.

Three Pieces of Advice?

Journii: First, be patient and take the time necessary to plan for your business. Second, take care of yourself. Lots of entrepreneurs overwork themselves. Make sure you eat right, meditate, and get out in nature. Lastly, don’t be desperate. Know your worth, and don’t take money from people that aren’t a good fit for your vision.

Jackie: First, if you’ve got a dream, do it. For us, entrepreneurship is in our DNA. Get out there and make it happen – dare the city to challenge you on what you’re doing. Second, educate yourself outside of school. Lastly, do your research. Learn how to do everything yourself, and read everything you can.

Interview with Airto From Night Rider Cold Brew Coffee

What defines Night Rider? What is your core value?

Our core value is sustainability and giving back to the earth. From the start, I wanted our brand to be local, and I wanted to eliminate any footprint we might have. I buy back the glass bottles from customers so we can re-use them. I also collect all our used coffee grounds and compost them in local gardens. We use a local artist for our logos, and we are partnered with a local roaster called Full City Rooster where we get all our beans. We are a craft cold brew company and are dedicated to the product.

What is your background? What made you want to start this company?

I have been a salesman for most of my life. I used to sell door-to-door and learned what it takes to sell a product. I realized that I sold a lot more when I was passionate about what I was selling. When you’re selling door-to-door, your customers aren’t usually buying the product, they are buying you. I think that’s important to keep in mind when you’re selling anything. I had a couple buddies up in Madison, Wisconsin that started a cold brew company, and I originally wanted to franchise their business. I worked with them for 3 years, and eventually realized that they didn’t have the same vision as I did. I used what I learned from them and started my own thing down here.

How have you funded Night Rider?

I waited a while to find the right people to invest in Night Rider, because I didn’t want anyone to come in and take too much control over the vision. About a month and a half ago, I found an angel investor who has been exactly that: an angel. She liked me and believed in what I was doing, and it’s been a great relationship. It’s very important to make sure that you only take money from people whose values and vision align with yours.

Did you have a business plan when you started? Do you think they’re necessary?

Not on paper, but I had a plan in my head. I could see the bigger picture, and I knew all the necessary steps that I needed to get me where I wanted to go. It’s important for investors usually, but in my case, it wasn’t as necessary. It all depends on the person and on the business; everyone is different.

Three Pieces of Advice?

First, experience the world first hand. You need to know more than what’s in books. Second, dedicate every living second to your dream and vision. Trust your instinct and be prepared to work long and strange hours; there are no easy days. Lastly, go out and work for other entrepreneurs and learn the trade.

What I learned from my interviews, by Matthew Stewart:

All four of the people that I met with were incredibly inspiring, positive, and interesting people: traits that I have noticed are common among entrepreneurs. It was a great opportunity to hear from these people first hand on what it takes to get out there and start your own company. As Brenton from Live Tribal said; “Entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff and building a plane on the way down.” Entrepreneurship is an incredibly dangerous game. It takes a certain type of person to play a game that gives you a 92% of dying within 3 years. These people I met were all incredibly dedicated and motivated people, and I noticed many similar traits that they all possessed.

First off, almost all of them at one point said something along the lines of “entrepreneurship in my DNA.” It’s interesting that they all felt compelled by some intrinsic trait inside of them to get out there and start their own company. It almost seemed like they didn’t have a choice. At one point or another, the only thing that could make them happy is taking the risk and starting their own thing. I felt a kindred spirit with all these people, and could totally understand what they meant by this.

Secondly, they were all very community driven people. They all cared about the environment, the earth, and the people on it. Tribal Juice emphasizes about the “tribe” that we all belong to. Ra Roots is focused on educating the people in our communities about health and wellness. Night Rider has created a fully sustainable model of re-utilizing all ingredients/bottles and eliminating waste, as well as using local businesses for all their business needs. This community lies at the core of all their businesses. None of them said they wanted to be on every shelf in the country. They all emphasized the fact that they are local brands, creating products for their communities.

All these entrepreneurs also said that becoming a student of the craft is crucial. They all recommended branching out and meeting other entrepreneurs and building a network of people you can trust and talk to about your business. They also all recommended researching a great deal before taking the leap into entrepreneurship. They all had experience working with other small businesses and startups before they went out on their own.

They all mentioned how much dedication and hard work it takes to get a product off the ground. Brenton from Live Tribal said “entrepreneurs are the only people who are willing to trade a 40-hour work week for a 90-hour work week.” They all talked about how the work never ends. When entrepreneurs go home at night, they are always still working. They are thinking about their companies, their employees, and their competition. To be successful in this game, you must live, breath, and die for your company. It takes a unique type of passion to dedicate 100% of yourself toward creating something. They also all said something about saying level-headed and even keel throughout the process. Entrepreneurship comes with a lot of highs and lows. Stress will come, and it’s easy to overwork yourself. They all said that its crucial to find ways to handle the stress and to stay healthy, happy, and positive.

Overall, I came out of these interviews with a new appreciation for entrepreneurs. The passion and excitement for what they were doing was inspirational, and I’m very happy that I now have 4 more entrepreneurs in my network that I can reach out to.



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