Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jacob Niemeier, Founder of Vera Aqua Vera Vita, located in Murphy, TX, USA.

What's your organization, and who are your members?

Vera Aqua Vera Vita (VAVV) is a nonprofit NGO striving to serve communities in need in developing countries that lack access to reliable, clean water.

Tell us about yourself

By education and profession, I am a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) specializing in water resources engineering. I have over 10 years of design and engineering consulting experience working on both public and private projects. I am a proud graduate of Purdue University, class of 2012, where I majored in Environmental & Natural Resources Engineering and minored in Environmental & Ecological Engineering. Honestly, the idea of being an entrepreneur and starting my own business wasn't even on my radar until 2011, when I went on a student mission trip to Haiti one year after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The city of Port Au Prince was still in ruins & most people were living in blue UN emergency-aid tents, which could be seen for as far as the eye could see. There was a woman that walked from her tent carrying a bucket to the canal that was flowing through the city and filled up her bucket with water that looked like chocolate milk, had animals defecating & walking around in it, was visibly full of trash & litter, & had people washing their clothes & dumping their waste into it. I knew that water was going to get her and her family sick. That memory still inspires and drives me to this day to do the work I do!

Do you have daily rituals for work / wellness / fitness / mindfulness?

I have a number of daily habits/rituals that I frequently use to keep me level-headed and sane and help me to thrive in my busy schedule. The most important of these daily routines is the habit of prayer. I use an app called HabitShare to track my daily prayer rituals and keep me on track to ensure I am starting my day by thanking the Lord with a Morning Offering, interjecting the middle of my day with a prayer to keep me mindful of God and focused on offering my work to him, and in the evening and at night with meditative prayer focused on taking extended time to talk with God and examine/reflect on my day so as to recognize & acknowledge the blessings the Lord granted me that day and to admit the ways that I fell short of living up to the best version of myself. Outside of prayer time, the daily ritual of a family meal with my wife & kids, quality time with my wife after the kids go to sleep, and a nice hot shower keep me going and energized and motivated. All of these habits/rituals remind me of what is most important: God, family, and taking the time to enjoy the little things and the many blessings, even in both good and bad times, that I have been given.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment, honestly, is taking what was once just an idea to create an organization to bring sustainable clean water to people in need in developing countries and actually turning that idea into a fully-fledged and growing NGO that is literally doing just that and has already done that for 7,000+ people.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things in general with being a business owner, let alone an international nonprofit NGO, is the investment of time, energy, and honestly heart and soul into the efforts it takes to grow the organization and, particularly in my case, expand the reach of our mission.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

I love this question because I think this is what separates those that succeed in entrepreneurism from those that don't:

  1. Know your "why," that is to say, know what motivates you and inspires you to keep pressing forward, and don't be afraid to take a leap of faith and give it a try because you will never realize your full potential until you push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
  2. A fundamental key to success in entrepreneurship is to be different in what matters and to truly distinguish yourself from your competitors in a distinct way because otherwise, what is your value proposition.
  3. Never stop learning and developing your professional skills because the day you do is the day you start to decline, which ultimately leads to failure.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

A quote that inspires me: "Don't ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive because what the world needs is people who come alive." - Howard Thurman

Where can people find you and your business?


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