Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in catering but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shaista Jaffer, founder of All Seasons Indian Catering, based in Ottawa, Canada.

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

All Seasons Indian Catering is a family-run business that was established in 2011. Our business provides catering solutions and take-out options for our customer base, which centralizes in Ottawa, Ontario but spans over Ontario and Quebec. We specialize in East-African Indian cuisine, with the Indian side of the menu coming from the Gujarat side, and the African side coming from Tanzania! The food we prepare consists of main dishes, different types of breads, appetizers, desserts and gourmet snacks! Our customers have a wide set of diverse backgrounds- African, Indian, European, Caribbean, Canadian, and the list goes on!!

Tell us about yourself

I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Finance at the University of Ottawa with hopes that my degree will allow me to expand my business globally, through the establishment of a diversified set of corporate organizations. While studying, I am still involved in my business full-time, focusing primarily on bookkeeping, marketing and advertising, as well as business management. I visit my store-front location weekly to keep my connection with my customers and seeing them happy and making sure each meal is personalized to each customer's preference keeps me motivated and dedicated to maintaining the quality of food and customer service they deserve. Seeing my customers happy motivates me to exceed their expectations each time they interact with my business.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is to proudly state that as an entrepreneurial venture that was started by my sister and I only the age of 18 years old, All Seasons Indian Catering has received over 10 awards to appreciate the quality of food and the level of customer service. Our customer base is extremely supportive of our efforts and appreciate all the time and energy that goes into preparing delicious food them!

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

I believe that one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner is taking criticism. When I first started the business in 2011, I was very young and new in the industry. A lot of elder people in the community supported our business endeavours from the beginning but only the second day in, I received a phone call from one of the customers saying that their samosas were soggy! I was heartbroken and disappointed; I felt like giving up! I spoke about my experience with a trusted mentor (AKA my dad!) and he told me something that I will never forget: "Always think of criticism as an opportunity for improvement!" At the time, I did not really understand what that meant but over the years, I finally understood that if I don't know about the issue, I will never be able to find the solution! And that is how our business maintained its success through managing the most difficult part of running a business: dealing with criticism!

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

There are several tips I would love to share with future entrepreneurs that were looking to start, run and grow a business today. The three important ones in my personal opinion are:

1. always persevere no matter what;

2. provide the customer service that you expect to receive if you are the client, and

3. be creative! There is no limit to innovation and sometimes, our ideas and imaginations help us build the most powerful business management structure that makes our business more unique than others!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

START A BUSINESS TODAY! No matter what the business is, what industry you are situated in, or what background you have, working for yourself provides you with the freedom to choose your schedule and choose your priorities- do it right and you become successful! Follow your heart and do what makes YOU happy!

Where can people find you and your business?

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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