Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Christopher Buono, Founder of Buon-Riche Foods, Inc., located in Overland Park, KS, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Buon-Riche Foods Inc., under the Bijoux Crème brand name, is bringing small-batch, artisanal, flavored specialty dairy butter to a marketplace near you. With flavors like Raspberry Passion, Maple Pecan Nirvana, Roasted Garlic and Herb Soulmates, and Mango Habanero Obsession, using only 100% organic and pasture-grazed butter and other all-natural ingredients (packaged in highly-recyclable glass jars), Bijoux Crème is upending the butter market from the mundane to the exciting. With its focus on innovative flavors using only the finest ingredients, Bijoux Crème's customers tend to be health-conscious, environmentally-aware buyers who aren't willing to sacrifice great taste.
Tell us about yourself
As a lifetime foodie, amateur chef, and closet entrepreneur in need of a career change mid-pandemic, I stumbled on the idea of flavored butter thanks to my young daughter and her desire for "butter that wasn't so boring." After some research and a handful of proof-of-concept recipes, I quickly realized that flavored butter's time had come. With that, I decided to put my tech executive job behind me.
As for what motivates me: providing for my family and making them proud is my biggest motivator, disrupting a segment of the market while making my mark on the world and, of course, hearing, "Wow! That's really good!" when people try Bijoux Crème for the first time (plus a dash of proving the naysayers wrong).
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In a very big-picture sense, my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is having built something from nothing. Sometimes that first step is the hardest because the future is so unknown. It takes a lot of courage and focused intent to take a vague concept and make it into something tangible and then take that to market for the world to judge. From a more micro perspective, my most significant accomplishment is the daily task of rallying others around my vision: customers, wholesale buyers, investors, and even friends and family. Without the ongoing support of all of them, especially my family, success would be nearly impossible.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, three things count as the most difficult aspect of being a business owner. First, maintaining the grit necessary to persevere past the challenges and failures that present themselves takes daily reminders as to ''why'' this is important.
Second, I've learned that people tend not to want to see behind the curtain. For example, in writing, there are a lot of rough drafts on the path to a published book. The same is true of products and services and all that goes with those: research and development, packaging samples, marketing designs, and countless other trial-and-error facets. But, when people see a rough draft without having my clarity of vision, they can lose faith in the product, the process, and in me. As a business owner, that's a lonely place to be. But, trial-and-error is part of the creative process. It's necessary and unavoidable and should be celebrated.
Third, the old adage that ''it takes money to make money'' is still true today. Whether it's a couple of hundred dollars for initial supplies or many millions for cutting-edge technology development, without enough cash or credit to get a product to market, a business will remain in the pre-revenue stage indefinitely. With that, I will extend a special heartfelt thanks to my wife for supplying the initial seed money for Bijoux Crème as well as keeping our family afloat during the startup process.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start with a product or service you are genuinely proud of. You don't have to love it (though it helps). You don't have to be passionate about every aspect of the business (e.g., bookkeeping is just not my thing). But you do have to sell it, so if you're not truly proud of what you've created, your pitch will seem ingenuine, and very few people will spend their hard-earned money on it.
- Figure out what business, creative, and production roles you perform best, then outsource the rest. Even as a solopreneur, you can't do everything. Focus on your strengths while letting others focus on theirs.
- Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated. Everyone! From the CEO to the stock crew, everyone plays an important role, and every one of them should have the opportunity to feel good about a job well done.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Much has been said and written about the MVP (minimum viable product) as well as the Agile process of product development. The importance of an MVP and the Agile process cannot be overstated. Start small, then let any remotely potential customer try it, use it, play with it, or taste it. Get feedback, iterate, and do it all over again. Repeat until you've nearly met your ideal. Then go to market.
Perfection is impossible.
Perfection is the enemy of greatness...
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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