Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Greg Mueller, owner of Olive Oil Divine, LLC., located in Johnson City, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Olive Oil Divine provides our greater region of consumers a choice to procure 100% Real extra Virgin Olive Oil, 100% Real Aged Italian Balsamic Vinegar, and a wide assortment of hand-crafted seasonings and rubs pastas, sauces, and stuffed olives. We sell from the everyday home cook to the professional chef in our region's Country Clubs. Olive Oil Divine is NOT your typical olive oil store that is found in many cities, as we are not a franchise, and we do not purchase our products from any of the major suppliers. Instead, we scout out the small, family farms that produce in smaller batches and have been doing so for many generations in some cases. This provided our customers with a truly more delightful product in flavor and made without any additives or preservatives. After one taste of our products, 9 out of 10 make the switch to us! This dedication to providing this quality product helps us make YOU a kitchen hero!
Tell us about yourself
My wife, Shirley, and I have been business owners all our lives, so starting Olive Oil Divine was a natural course for us when we decided to do something different. Our love for extra virgin olive oil generated our interest in helping cooks and families discover this magnificent oil that we consider is God's chosen fruit!
The following is a more detailed version of our journey.
Many years ago, we traveled to Hilton Head Island, SC, to enjoy the Christmas & New Years' holidays just as we had done for many years. During one of our anticipated "Date Nights" of this trip, we took in dinner and a show at the famous "Jazz Corner" dinner club on the island. Upon our arrival at the Jazz Corner, we noticed a neighboring storefront that had numerous shiny, stainless steel objects (called "Fustis") that could be seen through the window! Being the curious people that we are, we entered and found ourselves in a small olive oil store on Hilton Head Island. After spending a few hours in that store the next day, our love and appreciation for authentic extra virgin olive oil and balsamic were born.
Over the following years, the growing stress of our current jobs caused us to wish we could once again be in business for ourselves. Remaining open to God's guidance, we began to investigate if a gourmet olive oil store would be suitable for us. We finally became convinced through Divine direction that this type of business was for us, so we attempted to purchase the Hilton Head olive oil store. That purchase never consummated, but we realized that God only intended to light our fire so we would start our own new business right here at home in NE Tennessee.
Fast forward to 2014, and we welcome you to our "Infinitely Divine" piece of work known as Olive Oil Divine, purposefully created by us to be independently owned and operated. Greg and Shirley each have unique professional backgrounds bringing a combined 70 years of experience to Olive Oil Divine. Previously owner/operators of a print manufacturing business, their specialized business, and trade skills, along with their real-life experiences, have equipped them for the task of starting and operating Olive Oil Divine. They give full credit to God for bringing them to this point in their lives that allows them the resources and knowledge to start up this new business from scratch.
"WE KNOW WHERE OUR BLESSINGS COME FROM, AND WE ARE NOT ASHAMED TO LET EVERYONE KNOW IT!"
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is operating the business in such a way that it is 99% debt-free and self-sustaining!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that comes to us as a business owners is the amount of time required to put into successful operations. Our nature calls us to operate efficiently and with a detailed plan for all operations in order to be profitable. Therefore many times, we as owners are the only ones who will work to that level of dedication and often must do what employees fail to do.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Take time to research your market to assure you have a product or service that your region needs and will support, regardless of other competition.
- Give very careful consideration to your financial needs that will require for growth the first 5-7 years, as you will be tempted to bail along the way if you do not have a plan that allows you to stay afloat along with this time frame.
- Be prepared to be married to the business until you can replace yourself in it. The time required to make it happen the correct way is often overlooked.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Do your homework by preparing a business plan. Make sure any partner(s) are on board for the long haul. Have a support network to go to for advice or encouragement, especially during the first few years. Make sure you really love what your business is about!
Where can people find you and your business?
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.
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