Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with LeeAnn Johnson, President of Olive & Thistle Co., located in Newington, CT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business centers around healthy cooking, which supports a healthy lifestyle. We offer certified 100% extra virgin olive oil, as well as flavor-infused options from around the globe, balsamic vinegar, also regular and flavor-infused from Modena, Italy, and custom spice blends for all your dishes. We also carry our own line of restorative skin oils to keep you glowing.
Our customers are everyone who eats food, so everyone! Adding extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to your diet reduces your risk of heart disease, aids weight loss, supports brain health, and more so, whether you are trying to maintain or achieve optimal health or simply love to cook delicious foods, we can help support your health goals and add fabulous new flavors into your dishes.
Tell us about yourself
I studied nutrition and then spent decades in the financial industry. I wanted to work in an environment that encouraged healthy living and excellent nutrition. I believe a simple and sustainable approach is the most successful one when it comes to creating impactful lifestyle changes. I have been motivated by the positive communication coming from customers that they are committing to their health and that the flavor of their dishes has never been better.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am most proud of the fact that we have secured a base of returning customers. It's the ultimate compliment! Our product line has been successful in attracting and retaining business, having those customers refer their friends and family to us is a commercial in itself, and we value that.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
For me, managing the online world and how to efficiently get our message and our products into the line of sight of the public. It can take over and become your biggest time expenditure, and while online marketing is so important in this virtual world, it can get overwhelming.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- It's perfectly ok to start small and grow! Don't feel you need to match the product lines of the largest players in your industry. Start with the core product and sell it, then add more and perfect what you have.
- Set your mind on your business plan and create that vision. It is so discouraging when the people closest to you react negatively to your business idea, remember that they often will try and discourage the idea to protect you, but if you evaluate your business as a consumer and you look at it, the odds are others will too.
- Have a financial plan and understand how to manage your startup money. Know and control your costs, set appropriate profit margins, and decide how you will advertise your products before you launch.
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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