Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lance Avery, Founder of Big Fork Brands, located in Chicago, IL, USA.
Big Fork Brands is a Chicago-based, family-owned company focused on creating innovative food products where the flavor is the #1 priority. We make flexitarian sausage, bacon sausage, pork jerky, meat sticks, and a line of Chicago-centric sauces. Our customers range from meat/pork lovers to anyone looking for clean-label high protein snacks and those sauce lovers who are looking to improve any savory dish.
Tell us about yourself
Born and raised in Iowa, I learned early on the importance of the pork industry in my native state. After several business attempts, I focused my efforts by combining my upbringing as an Iowan and my culinary expertise in Chicago to launch Big Fork. With my background as a chef and the passion of an entrepreneur, I set out to become the new sausage king of Chicago. Seeing the decline of quality sausage back in 2010, I came up with the idea of combining two great meats, bacon & sausage, together to create singular super meat called Bacon Sausage. Since then, I have continued to expand Big Fork's product line by launching a new flexitarian pork sausage and a Chicago-centric sauce, The Original Chicago Sauce (a pandemic baby). Big Fork has been featured on QVC, Inc., Esquire, Food & Wine, The Chicago Tribune, WGN, WGN Radio, CBS, and Fox.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our business has been self-funded from the beginning, boot-strapping and working hard weekends and evenings by attending farmers' markets, street festivals, and artisan markets. We have sold our products across the United States, sold out on QVC, and have sold to some of the biggest names in the food business.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The balance of work/life can be very difficult at times. Since you ARE the business, you never leave the office; you're never "off."
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Be prepared to work harder than you ever have before. Nothing rewarding comes easy.
There will be many setbacks where you think you've come to a dead end. You need to rise up and move forward. You never know when you've had your best day.
You can basically learn anything and everything on YouTube. Have a growth mindset and push yourself. It's amazing what you can learn when you tell yourself you can.