Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Christophe Légasse, co-founder of Distillerie de Québec, based in Quebec City, Canada.
Tell us all about your business...
We are a distillery creating craft spirits in Quebec City, currently rum, gin, and vodka. Our town is where the first Canadian distillery opened in 1769, so there is a strong connection with our city's rich history. Our motto is "The history is in the bottle"! Our distillery is open to the public for tastings, and our products are available in Quebec and New Brunswick, and we are hard at work to export them in other markets.
What's your background and motivation to grow as an entrepreneur?
My background is in IT, and after more than 20 years in this field, I wanted to accomplish something different. The crafts spirits movement was starting to pick up steam at the time, and I thought it was an exciting avenue to explore. I talked to my friend David about the idea, and we decided to write down a business plan. Alcohol is one of the most regulated industries, and taxation here is very aggressive. We knew Quebec was likely the last place to start a distillery in North America, but that did not deter us. It took us five years, from the idea to the first bottle hitting shelves; it is a very long process. Something is gratifying when creating a new product after months, if not years, of planning. Each day brings us one step closer to a goal. Moving forward in a plan is what drives us.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
When our St-Roc rum won a Gold medal at the New York International Spirit Competition this year, we felt that we had reached a significant milestone, as this competition gets hundreds of different products from something like 40 other countries. We were very proud to receive this award, and it was the result of years of hard work.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being an entrepreneur?
Making choices is sometimes the most challenging part of being a business owner, mainly when you have limited resources and cannot afford to make too many mistakes. It would help if you reflected on your options, got second opinions, and ultimately decided based on what you know and feel. It can be scary sometimes, but making no decisions won’t get out anywhere.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
This is a tricky question, as we are all very different individuals with different backgrounds and businesses are not alike, but my take would be the following:
- Be organized: Whatever you do, you must spend time getting your things organized in a way that matches what you must accomplish and your personality. For instance, I make daily and weekly to-do lists on a collection of legal pads. Very analog way of working. It helps get me organized and prevents that something important does not fall outside my radar.
- Know your numbers: Making decisions often involves mastering data, whether it's sales figures, costs of goods, finance, you name it. Make sure you spend time analyzing your numbers regularly.
- Hope is not a strategy: Intention does not produce results, and magic is not a commodity. To get somewhere, you need a plan and actionable items.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
You can get a regular job or own a business; both can be rewarding, demanding, and frustrating; it depends on many factors. Some people do not fit in large, structured organizations, and I count myself in those, and other people – even very good people - are not meant to be business owners. Take the time to analyze yourself.
Where can people find you?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.