Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lalith Paranavitana, President of Empire Tea Services LLC., located in Columbus, IN, USA.

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

We import, blend and pack specialty teas for the gourmet tea trade. We also do private labels for small businesses. Our customers are specialty Gourmet stores, Restaurants, and Online businesses.

Tell us about yourself

I have been in the tea industry for 52 years. I managed tea estates and factories in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) for 20 years and immigrated to the USA, and started my own business - Empire Tea Services, which has been successful for 32 years. With my wide knowledge of the tea business, it is easy to be motivated to create new blends and offer high-quality tea products to the US consumer. With the resurgence of tea in the US, I feel very privileged to be in this growing industry at this time.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment is that I was able to win an award for the besticed tea at the Tea Expo in Las Vegas. I also have coached budding entrepreneurs to start their own tea businesses and be successful. I have also conducted tea tours to see tea harvesting, production, and all aspects of the industry in Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

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

The hardest thing is to separate your personal life and business life. The desire to do my best in my field drives me to work long hours.

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

Try to do as much as possible by yourself, even if you do not know all the ropes. Do not borrow money to start the business. Study similar products and businesses online and gather as much information as possible.

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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