Among our many goals at The Skillery: opening the lines of communication between Nashville entrepreneurs.
Running a business can be lonely, physically and emotional exhausting work, and no one knows quite what you’re muscling through like other entrepreneurs. By talking with other self-starters, independent professionals and freelancers, you can learn, you can commiserate, and you can pass on hard-fought knowledge, pushing our community forward in the process.
It’s with that in mind that we launch a new blog series we’re calling "Advice from a Nashville Entrepreneur." We’re hoping it gives some quick insight, food for thought and inspiration, while it spotlights and/or introduces you to some of the remarkable entrepreneurs who — lucky for us — call Nashville home.
We’ll kick off the series with friends who make summer in our city a much more delicious thing: seasonal slingers of otherworldly good fruit, The Peach Truck.
Advice from a Nashville entrepreneur, with Peach Truck co-founder Stephen K. Rose
Even if you’ve never heard of The Peach Truck, if you’ve been anywhere near a Nashville restaurant over the past few summers, you’ve almost certainly come across their peaches. East Nashville’s Lockeland Table and their Smoked Peach Jam. Peach pie at Husk Nashville, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam ice cream. If there’s a prime peach to be eaten in something around town, it most likely came from entrepreneurs Stephen and Jessica Rose.
The spouses and Peach Truck co-owners launched their business in 2012 to fill a Nashville need: Hailing originally from Fort Valley, Georgia, Stephen was raised on that state’s prime peaches, and their equal was noticeably absent in our city. So the Roses bought a ’64 Jeep, partnered with a Fort Valley farm and started bringing brown-bagged beauties to Music City.
The 2016 peach season is in full swing (they’re out May to August), so you can find The Peach Truck peaches all around town, beyond restaurant menus. Between stops, Stephen was kind enough to offer us some entrepreneurial insight.
The Skillery: From your perspective, how do you know if entrepreneurship is a good fit for you?
Stephen K. Rose: “To me, the concept of being your own boss has to consume you. You have to want it bad enough to not be able to live any other way. For Jessica and me, freedom was this insatiable thing we were chasing, and entrepreneurialism was our way to achieve it.”
Can you tell us about the process of making the decision — and ultimately taking action — to launch your own business?
“We were fixing a problem I had, which was the peach problem in Nashville. I grew up next to Pearson Farm in Fort Valley, Georgia. They grow the finest peaches in the world, and I had the privilege of eating those peaches right off the tree as a kid. I couldn’t believe we didn’t have access to anything like it in Nashville, so we decided to partner with my hometown farm and bring their peaches to Nashville.”
What do you feel like is the biggest challenge you face as an entrepreneur, and how do you work past it?
“Learning to grow in a sustainable way. Every year it seems as though new growth issues arise, and it’s all about learning to implement processes so that you own your business and not the other way around.”
If there’s one thing about the process of starting your business that you could go back and change, what would it be?
“We’ve had hundreds of bumps and bruises along the way each of the last four years, but I wouldn’t change any of them. We’ve been able to learn from all of them, which is the key.
“It seems so cliche to say something like ‘fail forward,’ but it couldn’t be more true. Every mistake we’ve made, we continue to learn from and refine.”
Are there any resources you’d recommend — publications, writers, organizations, events, etc. — to help aspiring entrepreneurs get a handle on how (and if) to take the leap?
“Gary Vaynerchuk is someone I can’t stop reading or watching right now. I feel like he’s speaking in a way no one else is, and he’s really teaching me a lot about how to run our business.”