At Saltbox, we pride ourselves on working with a diverse range of ecommerce entrepreneurs who are ready to start, scale, and grow their businesses. We couldn’t think of a better way to highlight these businesses than with our newest series: En Route with Saltbox.
En Route host Cee Ng, CEO of Live Learn Dream, covers all things business, growth, and development with business owners utilizing Saltbox and its services. This week, Cee focuses on all things community. We learn why it’s critically important to be around other like-minded entrepreneurs while running a new business. For the modern entrepreneur, having a workspace that houses other success driven owners is a way to win faster and absorb relevant knowledge from those who have lived experience.
En Route’s first guest comes to us from Seattle, WA. Art Stone is CEO and Founder of Honest Biscuits, a business that specializes in making and selling Southern-style, “honest to goodness, kick-ass” biscuits. The business was founded in 2011, but Art ties his business roots back to his childhood days of making biscuits with his grandmother. Attributing Honest Biscuit's success to his entrepreneurial spirit, Art has expanded his company into a shopfront at the historic Pike Place Market in Seattle. Honest Biscuits specializes in Southern-style biscuits, biscuit mixes, biscuit sandwiches, coffee drinks and more!
When growing out his business, Art struggled to find a community of supportive entrepreneurs who connected to the daily challenges he was facing. After joining Saltbox, Art connected with inspiring business owners who were confronted with similar challenges. Offering expertise, business advice, and continuous support, the community within Saltbox helped Art and others like him to grow.
CEE NG: How did you begin your entrepreneurial journey?
ART STONE: Bootstrapped. We started at farmers markets. It’s so great because the cost to sell is pretty low. There are application fees with markets and you have to pay to be there but equipment wise it was fairly minimal. I started the business from personal savings and it wasn’t until we opened our first store in Pike Place Market in 2015 that I actually had to borrow money.
CN: After running a business for over ten years, what has been the largest ongoing challenge you’ve faced?
AS: I would say two things. One is money. I’ve learned from other businesses that never really goes away. If you’re trying to grow, you’re always going to need the money to grow. From what I understand, that’s the never-ending problem. The other one is finding and keeping good people. There’s always going to be turnover in this business. Especially in the food industry.
CN: What are other adversities you faced?
AS: I would go back to money again. Trying to borrow money at the early stages of business growth. You’re trying to borrow money to get to the next level but your finances are not at the next level. It’s a tricky thing for a lot of entrepreneurs. The second thing would have to be confidence and taking yourself seriously. Imposter syndrome is a very real thing. It has been for me, at least. You’re constantly being pushed into areas and doing things you don’t have experience with. You’re constantly learning.
CN: What is a limitation you had and how did you overcome it?
AS: For most people, entrepreneurship is quite a rollercoaster ride and there are ups and downs. It’s easy to get discouraged in the down parts and I think that’s why a lot of small businesses fail. They get stuck in a low point and don’t see how they can get out, so they walk away. You have to keep going. As far as resources go, I built a network of fellow entrepreneurs, people that I’ve met through the Seattle Good Business Network. I’ve met some really great people. We support each other, ask questions. It’s like the quote: “Successful people are not necessarily the people that are the best or work the hardest, it’s the people that didn’t quit.” That keeps me going!
CN: What was your first big win?
AS: Definitely getting into Pike Place Market. It’s a very special and unique place known throughout the world. I went through a lot to open a store there.
CN: We both know that entrepreneurship is a wild ride. What is your favorite part of this crazy adventure?
AS: I’d like to say it's freedom. I heard another great quote, “As a small business owner, you can work whenever you want… as long as it’s all the time.” A part of it is the ride, to be honest. I don’t give myself full credit, but I do realize that I’m also employing people, giving people livelihoods, and offering a good work environment with a good product. That’s what keeps me going is trying to do things and do them well. I enjoy being a part of businesses that can succeed and do things ethically and treat their people well.
CN: Favorite biscuit?
AS: The MacGregor. We’ve been making it since the beginning. It has bacon, cheese, caramelized onions and that’s one of the biscuits where every time I eat it I think, “Wow, that’s REALLY good!”
At Saltbox, we pride ourselves on our all-inclusive member offering. We attract entrepreneurs who find value in one anothers expertise and humble beginnings. Every Saltbox member has a story to share, and many find that others' challenges and successes mirror their own. Honest Biscuits found connecting with other like-minded businesses helpful in their own journey, and found home in a community built for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs.
Interested in watching the interview with Art Stone, CEO and Founder of Honest Biscuits? Check out the full interview here to learn more about the logistics of running a business through COVID-19, what it takes to open a store in iconic venues like Pike Place Market, and additional entrepreneurship advice.
Connect with Honest Biscuits at their official website or on socials including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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