CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — It’s tough to grow a business when challenges keep popping up. “Definitely!” says Sydney Rieckhoff, co-founder of Almost Famous Popcorn, a Cedar Rapids-based company with a store also in Des Moines.

Challenges stress priorities.

“We’re really passionate about offering that variety,” Rieckhoff said.

Variety for her company means not whether to offer popcorn choices like plain, buttered or salted. It means offering selections like “Bourbon Spiked Salted Caramel,” “Crunchberry Day Popcorn,” “Fire Breathing Dragon” and 33 others. But 36 flavors of gourmet popcorn can mean hundreds of ingredients that weren’t always available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, there’s been some fan favorites that have had to temporarily be put on pause,” she said.

The company can’t produce those favorites when supply chain issues meant that a specific type of cheese or some other necessary ingredient wasn’t available. Rieckhoff said that she has tried to do whatever she can to minimize problems. She found popcorn suppliers, which she said has her feeling confident about her overall popcorn supply until next year.

She also found alternative packaging and worked to find suppliers from the United States to minimize shipping delays that have persisted through the pandemic.

Rieckhoff traveled to Washington, D.C. earlier this month with 27 Iowa business owners as part of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit. The 2,500 small business owners met with government officials to talk about ongoing difficulties: inflation, supply chain, labor shortage and child care availability.

A new national survey from Goldman Sachs underscores the challenges for small business owners, like Rieckhoff. Nearly 90 percent of small business owners want policymakers to help them with workforce, inflation and supply chain issues.

“It’s a constant struggle,” Rieckhoff said.

The rate of inflation has been the highest in four decades. People have left the workforce because of COVID-19. Some got ill; others worried about getting sick. That limits production, which further strained the supply chain. And affordable child care has been an issue for years. The pandemic made the situation worse.

Rieckhoff remains optimistic about her company’s future, though, and hopes to add staff as the company expands its product line, including ice cream.