Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kyle Janis, founder of Soothsayer Hot Sauce, located in Chicago, IL, USA.

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

I run Soothsayer Hot Sauce, an award-winning, hand-bottled, small-batch hot sauce company based in Chicago, Illinois. We proudly do most of our business directly to consumers through attendance at traditional events like street festivals and farmers markets, but also at music festivals, local punk shows, bar dice nights, and wherever people can have fun with our products.

Tell us about yourself

I founded Soothsayer in 2015 after accidentally developing a distinct hot sauce palate while trimming down my 100+ bottle hot sauce collection I had acquired over a few years of working in touring music production. To save myself the trouble of moving pounds of fragile glass, I tasted over 100 flavors in a week's time originally as a way of narrowing down the bulk of bottles. I then began trying to make the flavors that I liked the most, and the rest is history! The ability to have a vision and bring it to life, whether in flavors or the direction of the company, has been the most rewarding part of running this business and what still motivates me seven years later.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Winning our first award is still probably my favorite accomplishment. It really validated all that I had put into the company up until that point and reassured me that the positive feedback I had received from friends and family was more than just the people who cared about me wanting to support this venture.

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

Always having to be the one to make the decision and deal with the consequences of it. That is the one thing I miss about having a normal 9-5 job. Sometimes you just want to say, "Fuck it, that's Jeff's problem."

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

My top 3 tips for those starting a business would be:

  1. Really like what you're doing. Like, really, really like it. Be ready to think and talk about it all the time. Be ready for it to become part of who you are. And be ready to find the balance between being a business owner and still being a person.
  2. Accept help! Nobody can do everything all by themselves. It took me a while to learn that lesson, but it has been invaluable ever since it took.
  3. Remember that someday it will end. Unless you're starting the next Facebook (please don't), your business will either close, collapse, be bought out, or fade away. Enjoy it while you can!

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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