Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ben McQueen, Founder of Karuna Kava and Tea LLC, located in Boise, ID, USA.

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

We are Karuna Kava Bar and Beverage Company. What started as a tent at a Farmers Market selling kava by the jar has blossomed into a beautiful community of kava drinkers and tea fanatics. Our brick-and-mortar nonalcoholic kava bar serves the Boise area here in southwest Idaho, and we sell our products online at We are all about spreading the stoke for nonalcoholic social spaces and creating community using kava. Many utilize kava as a safe and fun alternative to alcohol. Some people utilize kava as a performance-enhancing tool for achieving a flow state or helping the body recover from hard workouts. Some drink kava to help with chronic pain from injuries or cancer. Kava tends to give you what you need.

Tell us about yourself

I started Karuna Kava because a lot of people need a safe and constructive alternative to alcohol. Most notably, me. I have struggled with alcohol at different points in my life, and when I was introduced to kava, it just worked. It was relaxing. It made me feel like I was comfortable in my own skin in social situations, which was unusual and pleasant, especially since it didn't involve alcohol. Now, we seek to operate awesome, fun nonalcoholic bars and share our gift of kava with people across the US. Every day I am motivated most by my family. They push me to be the best version of myself. I am also motivated by the powers at play in the work that we do with kava. This plant has the power to really improve people's lives and change their path positively. It is awesome to be able to share that with others.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Definitely hearing that we have helped someone overcome alcoholism or are helping them stay sober from alcohol. That is a powerful and deeply intimate thing for me because it has been a major struggle for me, and kava has always been that sanctuary from the storm, something I could drink that didn't turn me into the worst version of myself. Opening our first physical location was also a major accomplishment.

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

Making sure not to get too lost in the sauce. You have to have some balance in your life, or else you can miss some of the most important stuff in life (the stuff that happens at home). I've had times when I was trying to do so many things at once that I couldn't do anything effectively, and that is where you have to get good at hiring good people for your team. It gives you some sanity as an entrepreneur to focus on what you are really good at and not put an unreasonable amount of stuff on your plate at once. You also become less effective when you are working crazy hours, so if you are out there hustling, don't feel bad taking some rest days and family time; just make sure the rest of the team is still hustling.

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

  1. If you have an idea, get it down on paper. That begins to manifest your business in the universe. Seriously. A business plan and estimation of cost are imperative if you are gonna get off the ground, so watch some videos on youtube and figure out how to write a good business plan.
  2. Start where you are. Especially if you are a maker, try to get going at a local market as a side hustle to your current employment. Start a website. Start moving your idea into reality at scale. Don't put your thing off because you just don't happen to have the $200,000 to do it at the scale you initially imagined. Start where you are.
  3. Don't get discouraged. You might have down days where it doesn't seem worth it to put in all the work. Even if you have a good idea or a great product, you will still face disappointing days. Push through it to your goals because the payoff you initially imagined is waiting; there is just a certain amount of accomplishable work between you and that payout.

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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