Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in retail but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Francois Mathieu, Co-Founder at Hojicha Co. based in Toronto, Canada.

What's your business and who are your customers?

We specialize in roasted green tea, which is called hojicha in Japanese.

Many of our customers fell in love with hojicha when they visited Japan, or when they had it at a local Japanese cafe. Before we launched our business, it was difficult for our customers to find freshly roasted hojicha outside of Japan. We've made it easy for anyone to enjoy hojicha at home, and we're also enabling cafes outside of Japan to use hojicha in their food and beverage menu.

Tell us about yourself

I always wanted to build my own business, it was just a matter of finally getting started. I love the independence it provides, and the variety of challenges to tackle.

Every day is filled with a new set of problems to solve and that's probably the most exciting part. I also like that we're able to reach thousands of people and we're making their day slightly better with our products.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

It's very exciting to see our products being used by some of the best cafes, and by renowned food bloggers.

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

It's hard to take a break when so many aspects of the business depend on you, especially when you don't have full time employees. Problems can happen at any time of the day and on weekends. You must draw the line between things that have to be dealt with immediately, and things that can be taken care of later.

What are the top 3 tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

There's no perfect time to start a business, so you should get started even if the timing doesn't seem right.

You don't need the perfect idea. You just need a good idea that you're excited about enough to invest 100% of your time on it. Your idea will evolve over time, and your customers will help you refine it.

You shouldn't focus on margins and profit too early in the business. Wait before you reach meaningful revenues. There's no point in optimizing the business for products that you can't sell, or that people do not want.

Where can people find you and your business?

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as an entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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