Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food & bev, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chris Benoit, owner of The Spirited Gourmet, which is a specialty shop for 14 years, located in Massachusetts, USA.
Tell us all about your business...
The Spirited Gourmet is a specialty shop that sells wine, craft beer, spirits, and specialty foods, including a full deli. All of our wines come from small producers, farmers whose passion is making delicious, interesting wines that have a sense of place, unlike name brand wines that are often mass-produced.
We have an amazing artisanal cheese and meat selection, along with gourmet sandwiches and other specialty foods, most locally sourced. Our customers are people who appreciate good food, drink, and living well every day, not just once in a while. It's a bit of the European lifestyle.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?
I worked in high tech until I was in my early forties. My career allowed me to travel to European countries and observe how they lived their lives. The quality of life was so much better than ours and food and wine were at the core of this lifestyle. I was so impressed and wanted to bring this same thing to Americans. Most of us work a lot of hours and don't eat very well. We offer products that will make your average day a little special. And it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Staying in business for 14 years. The store opened right before the Great Recession and has withstood several other difficult circumstances.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a solopreneur?
The hardest thing about being a business owner is that you never stop thinking about your business. On the other hand, it's great to be working for yourself. You have to be prepared for the weight of what you're doing, and the problems that will accompany it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
Do a lot of research before you start. Demographics are super important. Make sure that you're able to lead. If you can't lead people you won't succeed. Be bold and follow your vision. That's the only way you can continue to be passionate about what you're doing.
What are some of the things you put in place to maintain a healthy work/life balance and to keep it all together?
Retail has long hours but not like what I had in the hi-tech part of my career. Having this business has brought more balance into my life.
Who are some of your favorite entrepreneurs and best business resources/books?
Richard Branson is one of my favorites. It's amazing to have had the level of success he's had to do such different things. Plus, he's fearless.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Being a business owner is a ton of work, but there's not a lot of things in life you'll be remembered. Your kids, if you have them, are your legacy but to have built something from nothing and have it have an impact on people's lives positively is very cool.
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share then email firstname.lastname@example.org, we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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