Building a Business
A pest-proof hummingbird feeder was first on the list for this entrepreneur.
By Chad Mathys, Monticello, Wisconsin
My love for birds and wildlife started when I was a kid. I remember going to my grandmother's house and admiring her many bird feeders hanging from the birch tree in her front yard.
My father also helped nurture my passion for wildlife and bird-watching by teaching me how to make birdhouses and feeders. In winter, we spent hours filling feeders and preparing new nesting boxes for the next season. Every day, it was exciting to walk through the woods around our house, watching the bird activity.
As I got older and started a family, I wanted my children to have this same appreciation for nature. My two kids love being outdoors. We plant flowers and trees, fill feeders, clean out birdhouses and more, all for our feathered friends. My daughter even raised butterflies last spring.
Hummingbirds are some of our favorite visitors, especially as the sightings around our house have increased over the years. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are amazing with their speed and iridescent colors.
A few years ago, I noticed that my free time being outside with my kids was quickly diminishing. I was so busy putting in long hours at work that I didn't really have time to do the things I loved most.
That's when I began thinking about starting my own business of building birdhouses and other outdoor products. It was too risky, though. I had no way of knowing if people would buy my creations, and I had no idea if it would even be worth my time.
So I headed in a different direction altogether. I started looking for wholesalers in the United States that that had good, quality products that I could sell. I found many great companies, so I decided to open up a new on-line company, Barn in the Sticks.
One of my first goals with my new business was to find a hummingbird feeder for my parents. They had a terrible time with ants and wasps at their feeder, and I knew others shared their concerns.
I found a great feeder with a bee guard and ant moat already on it. My parents were happy and verified the feeder's success, so I knew it was a must for my new store. Now, I have several hummingbird products, including a kit with a feeder, ant guard, nectar mix and cleaning tool.
I want my business to do well, but my goals really go beyond that. Most of the products on my Web site are made in the United States, and I've selected them all with pride.
When it comes down to it, I'm just like anyone else who wants a good, quality feeder or birdhouse. I trudge through mounds of snow to fill my feeders in winter. And I spend hours watching nesting birds in spring and summer.
As a kid, I never imagined my grandmother's bird feeders and father's lessons in building would lead to a business. But I'm glad it did. I'm having the time of my life running Barn in the Sticks, and I look forward to sharing my love of nature with many others.