Periodically we feature entrepreneurs in our program. The stories you read are real entrepreneurs in the Upstate South Carolina community.
JULIE | Benji Bars
What is your business?
Sugar Beeze, LLC is the name of my business and I make Greenville’s own and only “Mom –Crafted” protein bar. My youngest son, Benjamin, is the namesake and the inspiration for the bars. My nickname for him is Beeze. When my lawyer asked me to name my LLC I thought of the phrase that I have said countless times over the past 17 years…..”How’s your sugar, Beeze?”
So Sugar Beeze, LLC was born.
Why did you start your business?
My youngest son, Benjamin, was dealing with Type 1 Diabetes and playing sports after school and for him, the ratio of carbs to protein to fiber was crucial. I could not find a product to meet his needs so I created one.
What is your greatest challenge in business?
Actually for me there have been / are several…..and I think these are common to most people starting a business….
Money – my father left me a small amount when he passed away and that it what I used to get started. That is long gone so my business now has to sustain itself.
Resources – not including money in this category, just resources in general. Since I have a food product I had to learn about packaging and labeling and shipping, etc…
Expertise – I taught school for 28 years. I hold a MEd in Education and I am certified in all areas of special education. My certificate is current and valid until 2021. I worked hard to keep it up to date and I still sub at a center for our most disabled students and I also continue to work on a team to determine special education eligibility for our youngest students. I was trained in this field. I was not ever trained in how to bring a food product to market. I paid the price of experience through error more than once! But I am a quick learner and I don’t fail the same way twice. I know I will continue to make mistakes but I won’t make the same one twice and in fact the ones I made taught me well! They made me tougher and smarter.
How did the Business Entrepreneur Academy help you start/grow your business?
The knowledge I gained is immeasurable to me. My course ended months ago but I keep my notebook with me all the time. The resources that were assembled in our curriculum are invaluable. As I grow and reach next steps I can refer to the curriculum and it still guides me along. Aside from practical applications of the course what I am still trying to express with words is the network of like minded people whom I am now proud to call friends. They inspired me and challenged me and our group created something quite rare – a team of support with no competition whatsoever. In fact, I am meeting one of my colleagues this afternoon. We stay in touch and we support each other and that is no small thing. The way the course was conducted allowed us to be professional and learn together and stay on track and put something truly powerful back out into our community.
What advice would you give to other people who want to start a business?
Avail yourself of community resources! Do your research to see what opportunities are out there that fit your needs. Then go be a part of the community with the attitude of giving back to it as well as taking something from it. That is the only way for communities to thrive. The worldneeds your ideas, expertise, talents, product, whatever...but find a way to present it and give back. Reach back and help someone navigate the path you just walked. Lift others up along the way. That is exactly the atmosphere of the Business Entrepreneur Academy. And it’s a powerful force!!
What do you wish you knew before starting a business?
Well, tons of things!! For me, I never had a vision for a business. I had a literal vision that I know was from the Lord. An answer to years and years of prayers. So in order to carry out that vision I needed a business. For the first two years I would disclaim that I was not a “business person”. Not anymore!!! Today I quite literally and figuratively own it!!! I am learning and making mistakes and getting back up daily. I will repeat this process until the Lord calls me home. I have learned to be strategic and knowledgeable but at the same time I see the wisdom in letting go of the outcome. His plans are far above mine! So I pray diligently to be a good steward of the vision that He gave me.