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4 big business hurdles entrepreneurs face – and how to overcome them

2.5 min read

When Murad Al-Katib recognized a business opportunity in the early 2000s, he jumped at the chance, leaving his full-time job, and setting up Saskcan Pulse Trading in the basement of his home. The possibilities of growing plant-based foods on Canada’s Prairies lay ahead.

I look at the last 20 years as just setting the foundation for what I want to do in the next 20.

Over the last two decades, he grew the business to become AGT Foods and Ingredients, adjusting his business goals along the way.

He focused on building a physical business infrastructure and a transportation system, both foundations for a trade network and skilled workers. And he did it all by focusing on the future.

“I look at the last 20 years as just setting the foundation for what I want to do in the next 20,” Al-Katib says.

Barriers for new businesses

Al-Katib recognizes that the biggest hurdle for most entrepreneurs is financing. He suggests using all the knowledge a funding partner like FCC can bring to the table, whether it’s about lending or partnerships or product access.

The other hurdle, parallel to his own experience, is infrastructure, whether physical or otherwise. For some, this may mean broadband connectivity – for others it may be actual logistics and shipping.

Market access is another challenge:

“The world is getting more and more competitive,” he says. “They need our food, but they also want to protect their domestic producers.”

He suggests those new to food and beverage processing focus on getting capitalized, building partnerships and gaining skills to expand into their desired markets. There needs to be a focus on the future while managing the now, so even if all parts of the value chain aren’t connected now, consider functional growth to ensure end-to-end tracking, traceable distribution and overall connectivity.

The future is bright

Now, AGT Food and Ingredients is a global food processor and one of the largest suppliers of value-added pulses sourced from regions worldwide, distributed to more than 120 countries.

Al-Katib recognizes four important checkpoints for successful growth:

1. Lending. Seek out lenders who understand the food and beverage processing sector and the vision for the future. You want a partner who can grow with you.

2. Infrastructure. Identify what is needed to take a product to a broader market in the future. Whether it’s improved transportation, better rural internet, an equipment upgrade or other infrastructure issues, know what you need now to meet your business goals to get products from point A to point B.

3. Know the value chain. Your business may be at one point in the chain, but understanding, appreciating and developing relationships with the other links provides additional growth opportunities.

4. Be ready for global competition. The market for food around the world is growing, but it’s political. Be prepared for governments that want to protect domestic interests and food imports.

Bottom line

Dreams of overnight business success are tempting, but fast growth may not be the best course of action. Find the right investors, get the infrastructure in place to work to achieve your goal and learn about your value chain to help secure your path the success.

Article by: Ronda Payne

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