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An antique Covered Bridge supply truck.

“5 things I know now, that I wish I knew then” – perspective of a small business owner

Ryan Albright, President and CEO of Covered Bridge Potato Chip Company based in Hartland, New Brunswick (home to the longest covered bridge in the world) has grown his business from three to 90 employees in just five short years.

As part of our series on celebrating Canadian Small Businesses, Ryan shares 5 things he has learned along the way that would have helped him in the beginning.

Plus, watch this video tour of the chip factory to learn how leasing has helped him grow into the future.



1. The workload is crazy

Okay, this seems like an obvious one and coming from a family of potato farmers, I knew what hard work meant, but I truly did underestimate the amount of work it is to launch a new, high overhead business from scratch. If I had known this in the beginning I would have set more reasonable goals and paced myself more realistically.

2. Research your suppliers

Often times, I was moving at such a fast speed that I just got what I needed to get the job done without shopping around and bargaining. I would encourage new small business owners to research suppliers to ensure they are getting the best raw materials, equipment, and technology for their needs at a fair price.

3. Develop a thick skin early on

Be prepared to get rejected and be prepared not to let it bother you. Working in the packaged goods arena, everyone knows it’s about product placement. We attend food shows all across North America selling Covered Bridge Chips, breaking into that market and then getting noticed by consumers is hard. But, if I had walked away after getting rejected the first time, second time, or even third time, we wouldn’t be where we are today – on shelves in independents and major retailers across Canada.

4. Inevitably your home life is sacrificed

Balancing work and home life is extremely difficult when you are an entrepreneur starting out. Ask yourself this, ‘If I had to choose between landing a deal or making a family dinner, what would I choose?’ Now, be prepared to answer this question almost every day. The fact is, with the emergence of 24/7/365 service, a mobile workforce and cloud-based IT networks, work-life balance is a myth.

5. Exercise to relieve stress

This is nothing new, but the fact is I really didn’t take it to heart or make time to stay active until last year. Since I started jogging, going to the gym and eating healthy my stress is way down, my energy is up and I’m sleeping better. It’s simple, it’s true, just do it and don’t make excuses for it.

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