Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jesse Long, Founder of The Hot Sauce Co., located in London, ON, Canada.

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

The Hot Sauce Co. is a premium, small-batch hot sauce company from London, Ontario, Canada. We create nutritionally flavourful products that inspire a bold and healthy lifestyle using all-natural fresh ingredients. Our customers come from all walks of life, but something they all have in common is that they're health-conscious individuals and families who are looking for exciting products that are free from artificial additives, preservatives, and chemicals. They lean towards environmental sustainability and eco-friendly packaging. Overall, our customers value quality, authenticity, and healthy food options.

Tell us about yourself

I've been a fan of the spicy life for as long as I can remember. It started in my youth, drinking tabasco straight out of the bottle, and it turned into a passion for all things flavourful and exciting. Along my spicy journey, I've collected hundreds of fellow sauce maker's creations, and I always felt they were missing something. So during my final year of college, studying IT, I made the decision to make my own batch of hot sauce in my apartment kitchen. The recipe was off the cuff; I used a bag of freezer-burnt habaneros and a haul of fresh fruit and veggies from the farmer's market. Around the same time, I also started a hot sauce club at school, where our main goal for meetings was to try different sauces and rate them using various criteria. All the while I was mixing in my own sauces, and using this feedback to tweak and perfect my first product. This was the birth of our best-seller, Habanero & Mango. It was full of flavour and properly spicy. There is nothing like the feeling you get watching people around the world enjoy something you've created. Each day I get to wake up and do what I love. I stopped working and began living the dream the day I started The Hot Sauce Co.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

This answer comes to mind almost immediately. The moment I was able to sponsor and donate our resources to other organizations and people in need was one of the biggest feelings of accomplishment for me. All the late nights, early mornings, and time spent away from my family finally felt worth it.

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

One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is the responsibility of making all the decisions and taking risks associated with them. As a business owner, you're responsible for the success or failure of your business, and the weight of that responsibility can be extreme. You have to be able to make tough decisions, often with limited information, and be prepared to deal with the consequences, whether they are positive or negative. Additionally, managing the daily operations, finances, employees, and customers can be challenging and time-consuming, requiring a significant amount of dedication and hard work. It can be a constant juggling act to balance the various demands on your time and attention, making it essential to prioritize effectively and delegate responsibilities when necessary.

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

  1. Define Your Purpose and Values: Starting a business is not just about making money; it's also about making a difference. Define the purpose and values of your business to guide your decisions, help build a strong brand, and attract like-minded customers and employees.
  2. Focus on Your Customers: Understanding your customer's needs, preferences, and pain points is critical for the success of your business. Continuously gather feedback, listen to your customers, and strive to exceed their expectations with high-quality products or services and exceptional customer service.
  3. Embrace Technology and Innovation: In today's digital age, technology, and innovation play a significant role in the success of a business. Stay up to date with the latest technological advancements in your industry, embrace digital marketing, and be open to exploring new ways of doing business that can help you stand out from your competitors.

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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