Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Harney, vice president of Harney & Sons Tea Co, located in Lakeville, CT, USA.

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

Our business for the last 40 years has been to make great teas and other beverages that keep smiles on our customers' faces. Most often, our customers are women of all ages. However, many men enjoy our teas.

Tell us about yourself

After completing Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, I trained in Paris, learning about wines. I joined my father at Harney & Sons in 1988, 5 years after he founded it. So I love artisanal beverages. I love to hunt for new tea from somewhere around the globe. Also, I enjoy creating new tea that our customers will love. Coming from the hospitality field, talking with customers and making sure they are happy is a joy.

Do you have daily rituals for work / wellness / fitness / mindfulness?

I try to work out six days a week. Previously, I did three days of cardio work, but my middle son convinced me to do strength workouts. Got to keep this aging body going!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I would like to think I have not done my biggest achievement yet, that it is still in front of me. However, I do enjoy that we have created a tea brand that is beloved around the world and that we have been able to bring our employees along for a pleasant ride.

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

Money comes and goes. And in the heat of the summer, money is tight. So that is not a pleasant time of the year.

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

  1. Choose a business that has some potential. Tea is not as large as coffee but still.
  2. My father always said we needed Perseverance.
  3. Give back to both your employees and other chosen organizations.

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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