The secret sauce for small biz success

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“I’d rather take a risk and fall flat on my face than not take that risk … and be wondering what would have happened,” says solo entrepreneur Myles Powell, who left behind a civil engineering job to follow his passion into the culinary world. Powell started selling his 8 Myles line of gourmet sauces and seasonings at local neighborhood farmers’ markets and is now well on his way to national distribution through deals with Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma.

On this week’s episode of Retail Gets Real, Powell shares the juicy details of how he developed 8 Myles and how hard he is working to put his product on retail shelves.

Powell always had a knack for experimenting with counterintuitive flavor combinations, having grown up in a family of passionate foodies and cooks. “I wanted to create my own [barbeque sauce],” he says about how he got the idea to invent his flagship product, “but I wanted to be different” — like using fresh raspberries to create a raspberry barbeque sauce. Other flavors currently available include the addicting “Pineapple Buffalo” and a barbeque-buffalo hybrid dubbed “Mango Magic.” Powell hopes to develop eight flavors in total for the full line.

Myles Powell (left) talks sauce with co-host Jessica Hibbard (right)

Myles Powell (left) talks sauce with co-host Jessica Hibbard (right)

The most surprising part about entering the food retail world for Powell was the learning curve. “As a consumer, you only see the product on the shelf,” he says, “but not what it takes to put it there.” After developing the product line, he worked with distributors, marketers and designers to raise product awareness, create commerce outlets and establish sales deals.

Powell sees customer satisfaction as his primary measure of success. When “someone tries my sauce and their face lights up, for me that’s success,” he says. As for reaching consumers, he focuses on tactics like developing 8 Myles’ social media presence, especially on Instagram, and being featured on multiple media outlets. Check out NRF’s Small Business Spotlight in June to see Powell in action.

Listen to the episode for surprising food pairings and mouthwatering recipes, as well as Powell’s advice for other entrepreneurs pondering a leap of faith.

Tony Fontana is one of NRF’s co-hosts on Retail Gets Real. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.