Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Si Man Lee, President of Savvy Wine Consulting, located in Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business really works in all parts of the liquor (and specifically the wine) industry. I help retail stores become more profitable through strategic buying and staff training. I also do staff training, menu design, and events in hospitality settings like restaurants and wine bars. And I also serve clients who are collectors and want to do private events, cellar curation, etcetera.
Tell us about yourself
I see the wine industry splitting into two really separate industries. On the one hand, we've got really cheap, manipulated bulk wines that have huge marketing budgets and are heavily promoted, and on the other hand, we have fine dining restaurants and sommeliers who focus more on quality products. There's really nothing in the middle for people who'd like to get into wine or learn about it that's affordable and welcoming.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Survival during these crazy times! My thought is that if I can make my business profitable during trying times such as COVID and the recession when the climate is much more favorable, it should be far easier.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, it's the stress of fluctuating income from month to month. I'm a self-starter, self-funded company, so my family has had to sacrifice a lot of luxuries in order for this business to get off the ground, and I work extremely hard for them and their faith in me.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be realistic about what you can do on your own. It's okay to get help and hire out certain parts that you've got no background in. My only regret thus far has been that I wish I had started this business with a partner to divide up the work so that I'd be farther along at this point.
- Cover yourself! That is to say, make sure you've got enough capital so that you're not stressing about how much money you made in month three or if prospects for the 4th quarter don't look strong. This is especially true if you're self-funded and going it alone!
- If you can't afford the bells and whistles that your bigger competitors can offer customers, beat them with service and hustle. I think this is especially true if your business revolves around products where there's lots of competition or if you deal in the more premium or high-end of your field.
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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