Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mikey Kay, Co-Owner of Fire & Smoke BBQ Company, located in Pingree Grove, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a BBQ food trailer and product line. We bottle and sell all of our seasoning for all bbq lovers to use. We also have a line of hot sauces for those who like to spice it up. On the food trailer side, we team up with different breweries and events that need BBQ in our area. Our customers are bbq lovers and people who love to cook.

Tell us about yourself

I am the pit master and co-owner of Fire & Smoke BBQ company. My background story is nothing but unique. After graduating high school, I explored many professions, including photography and cosmetology… I even toured with music bands! Yet nothing had fully satisfied me. I continued to yearn for a true passion. And that, my friends, is when grilling really started to happen. Then I met and married my loving wife, Amanda, and we started a BBQ podcast together. I created a website, started inviting guests to talk barbecue on a podcast, and later hired friends to write blogs. Man Meat BBQ eventually began to grow into a social media brand and podcast known to many people all around the world. Throughout the years of Man Meat BBQ, I heard from many that he needs to share my incredible food with others. After some heavy thought and slight convincing from my wife (ok, not really, though), that is when the Fire & Smoke BBQ Co. dream started coming to life.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I'm not sure I can fully answer this since we always strive to improve and work on something new. So, although we've had many accomplishments, such as being featured on Chicago's best food truck edition. Getting our products into numerous stores across numerous states. Sending products to other countries and having our product be used by numerous people. Some of our products are winning awards at SCA cookoffs, and even some are being used in the world food championships. I feel like we are always striving to do more things and always looking into the future. So seeing my biggest accomplishment, I don't think it has come yet.

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

I will say one of the hardest things about running a business is accountability. You have nobody else to answer to besides yourself. So you must hold yourself more accountable than every single other person. Also, you are responsible for every single employee and everyone on your team. So if somebody messes up, you messed up.

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

  1. Don't wear all the hats.
  2. Take things one step at a time.
  3. Start doing and stop talking.

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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