Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michelle Rudell, owner of Nelson Olive Oil Co., located in Nelson, BC, Canada.

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

Nelson Olive Oil Co. is a brick & mortar retail store and tasting room. We are known for our amazing customer service and high-quality oils and vinegars. Unlike all commercially available olive oils, our Olive Oils are sourced directly from the growers and are all third-party tested and sensory evaluated to ensure they meet our supplier's "Ultra Premium" standards. Our balsamics are "true balsamics," made in Modena, Italy, from white Trebbiano grapes using traditional old-world techniques. Our products contain no artificial flavours, colours, or sugars, and you can be assured that what you get at Nelson Olive Oil Co is fresh, authentic, and ultra-high quality! We serve Nelson and a large surrounding area in the beautiful West Kootenays here in British Columbia. We also have quite a large online customer base and ship all over Canada.

Tell us about yourself

I have always been an entrepreneur at heart, you can pretty much name anything, and I've done it! It took me 42 years to figure out that this was going to be my true passion! My uncle has a similar store in Ontario, and I fell in love with the products and concepts. He and his wife have been a HUGE inspiration and have helped me so much along this journey. I love being my own boss and the self-guided learning process that it requires.

Being a passionate lover of food and cooking, I have the endless ability to create recipes with our amazing products. I will never get tired of this aspect of my business because I get to be excited about creating delicious food every day! I also love sharing inspiring ideas with my staff and customers!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment has been learning to become a boss! I have never been comfortable with this title and what comes along with it, but I've learned that every good business needs a good leader. Getting over this fear has been super challenging and rewarding. Seeking help and support has been key, and it's not always easy to find. I've had to reach out immensely to my local business community as well as tap into endless online resources with respect to running a small business. From human resources to website development, I've managed to teach myself more than I ever learned in my post-secondary schooling!

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

One of the hardest things about being a business owner is that there is no framework or specific schooling that teaches you how to do it. Managing people is definitely the most difficult aspect of the job, and I was never taught how to do this. Learning as I go from my own mistakes has been the only way to do it. It does get easier over time, but it has been a long road to where I am now.

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

  1. Do your research! Find other comparable businesses out there and, ask questions, check out locations and websites. A fine tip of advice I once received was to do some "R&D" Rob & Duplicate! (AKA Research & Development LOL)
  2. Reach out to your business community and be involved! Take advantage of as many resources as you can get your hands on. There are loads of free and cheap courses you can access out there. Ask around and get yourself educated!
  3. Show up every day, keep moving forward, and don't be afraid to delegate. You can't do everything. Go into it knowing you will NEED other people so you can have time to do what you need to do to run a successful business!

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.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.