Natalie Harris, and her partner Dan, have built the award winning Danny Balboa’s Sauce Co. Hot sauces from mild to wild. I love that… mild to wild. Nat is not normally ‘the face’ of the product like she is here 👆 (hey, it’s what we do!) but she is the powerhouse (sorry Dan, I’m bias, I know Nat better than you!). Either way, they are driving Danny Balboa’s success in multiple sales channels and winning LOTS of new stockists.

Danny Balboa’s hot sauce is inspired cooking thanks to the combination of knowledge gained from years working in the BBQ industry (both in restaurants and the competition circuit) and Dan’s natural wizardry in the kitchen producing something with a real depth of flavour, not just heat.

How would you describe the business you are in?

Danny Balboa’s Sauce Co is a Melbourne based, family-owned company that produces nationally award-winning, small batch hot sauces, and spice rub.

Our products, packed full of fresh and local ingredients, are all gluten-free and vegan friendly without any nasty additives or preservatives and with heat levels ranging from ‘mild’ to ‘wild’, there is something to suit everyone’s taste.

What do you love about your work?

I love the variety my work contains. Dan, my partner, is the cook and I handle everything behind the scenes. The diversity of my role means I am constantly pushed to learn and grow my knowledge of the industry and I find that really exciting.

I’m certainly never bored.

What part of your job would you gladly give away?

All the monotonous jobs like bottling and labelling hot sauce! I couldn’t even guess at how many tens of thousands of hot sauce bottles I have filled and labelled in recent years. I would much prefer being able to focus all my time and energy in working on the business. This is definitely the first role we will be outsourcing as we scale!

If you were starting out in business again today, what piece of advice would you give your younger you?

Find a mentor early! Coming from an education background this whole industry was very new to both Dan and myself. We spent the first years essentially winging it with very little idea of what we were doing. Finding someone who could help me figure out what I didn’t know and guide us in structuring our business early on would have been invaluable (and definitely saved us a lot of time and money in the long run!)

Women start businesses 41% of the time to solve a problem. Sometimes this means we have a great vision but don’t have enough resources to sustain our business for the long term. Tell us what resources you started your business with eg. money saved, business premises, business partner, and how long before you started paying yourself?

We started with almost nothing (maybe $1000 for bottles and ingredients). We had a friend design our labels as a favour and honestly we weren’t thinking far past that first batch. We worked from home (around 2 very young children) and despite all expectation started to steadily grow.

In the first year we both worked part time in other jobs but quickly realised that until we made the leap to investing full time in the sauce business it was only going to get so far. Fast forward to 3 years later and we have won a bunch of awards, are now on retail shelves across our home state of Victoria (and steadily moving to other states as well) and have a really clear plan for future growth. Oh and we actually get a paycheck now too!

As you know we are passionate about women #backingthemselves. So tell us about a time in the last twelve months that you’re really proud of.

For me it would have to be investing in myself! Taking time and money out of the business to further educate myself sounds like a small thing, but at the time the investment seemed huge. Revenue and time are often both so tight that it took a real leap of faith to really back myself and our business. It has since paid for itself a thousand times over!

As we are always growing and learning, what is the one thing you would like to take time to learn more about?

Everything!! But if I had to choose right now I think it would be around advertising and marketing. We’re getting on to retail shelves now and I’m feeling more and more confident with that process but I’d like to learn more about how to get OFF the shelf, how I can support our retailers in really selling our product.

The world is changing so fast and technology enables us to do so much more. We’re interested in which app you could not live without and why?

Quickbooks. Streamlining our accounting and having clear and easy access to our figures is really invaluable.

I also LOVE the ‘Receipt snap’ function which instantly uploads all my receipts so they are easily linked to transactions. Saves so much time and mucking about.

Why did you decide to become a member of the Foodpreneurs Formula®

Support and networking. To have a place to ask questions and share knowledge while being surrounding by a bunch of women going through many of the same issues (and triumphs) as you is absolutely priceless.

We love to celebrate successes. Can you give us an example of how joining the Foodpreneurs Formula® has positively impacted your business? 

Since working with Chelsea and working through her advanced program, Business Coaching Acceleration Program (BCAP), our business has seen so much positive change. We now have structure and focus, and a much clearer idea of what we want and how to achieve it.

Before working with Chelsea I had this very vague notion of success and what it meant to me, Chelsea actually helped me make ‘success’ a concrete and achievable goal that we are steadily moving towards.

I feel confident and knowledgeable in a way I never did in the first years of our business (I often felt like a fraud having very little idea of what I was doing and constantly just waiting for the balls to drop) and am actually really excited about what these next few years might bring!

Thank you Natalie.

Want to read more about another successful member? Check out our ‘What’s Cooking’ interview with Tanya Jovanovic, founder Stubborn Olive.