This is How to Build a $1 Million Business

I was sitting in the dentist’s waiting room awhile ago (lucky me, I know), and picked up a Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.  Yes, this dentist has some good magazines..

Of course, I flipped over to the articles on those who had made a million.  Why not?  And there was an excellent business coaching story, right before my eyes.

In that section was a fascinating story about Allison Evanow of Novatow, CA who has built a $1million business on organic vodka with flavour.

While working in the spirits business, she became aware of a trend of sophisticated cocktails.  “A lot of bartenders in San Francisco were focusing on using fresh, organic ingredients and taking a chef-like approach to making cocktails,” she says in an interview with Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Culinary cocktails are savory, sweet or a blend of both.  We enjoy such cocktails over many foods, such as tapas or Thai.  Or we linger over these cocktails well into the first course of a meal.

“In August of 2004… it hit me literally in the middle of the night.  I woke up the next morning, turned to my husband and said, “I have this crazy idea.” I wrote the business plan that fall,” she told Kiplinger’s.

Unlike the usual vodkas available that have been stripped of their flavour, Square One Organic Vodka focuses on flavour.

Rye is at the core of the vodka, as it offers richer flavours than common grains and potatoes usually used for vodka.  Organic farming and fermentation was chosen so as not to mute the flavour in any way. “Square One worked with a master distiller for
nearly two years to develop and refine a proprietary process that is all natural, all the time,” according to Square One literature.

In addition, Square One uses only one distillation.  Though many vodka manufacturers boast of the many distillations, it turns out that each one removes impurities, and therefore flavour.

Square One uses the flavour strength in its promotional strategy.  Rather than spend on advertising and billboards, the company took the vodka to the bars and restaurants that create the great cocktails.  So, Square One was added to their repertoire due to its flavour, its potential for greater cocktails.  In this way, word has spread until it is sold in every state in the US, and in a growing list of countries outside the US.

Here is an example of a company with a well-defined competitive advantage – an advantage customers care about – with a promotional strategy to match.

Feel free to write and tell me of stories where you have done or seen the same.


Tove Rasmussen, Business Coach & CEO of Partners Creating Growth, offers business expertise worldwide to help organizations grow, and disadvantaged regions thrive.

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