Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Samantha Lang, co-founder and executive pastry chef of Cacao Chemistry, located in Colorado Springs, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a manufacturer of chocolates and pastries sold both wholesale and retail. Our customers are looking for unique premium desserts and gourmet gifts and are unwilling to compromise on quality or service.
Tell us about yourself
I've worked in the food industry for 16 years in various savory and sweet jobs, from the bakery department in a grocery store to a coffee shop, all the way to a fine dining restaurant specializing in nose-to-tail butchery. I went to college for baking and pastry. When I moved in with my boyfriend in 2014 in a new city, I couldn't find work, so we decided to start a chocolate company to bring the kind of chocolate we both like to Colorado Springs. I love what I do because I never stop learning new things, and my job is never boring. I also get to train and mentor a strong team of 10 employees who have largely never worked in food service, as we tend to hire industry outsiders.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Much like every business, building up our sales and controlling our expenses to accomplish becoming profitable was our biggest success. It involved (and still involves) developing and implementing a system that is trainable and scalable and hiring a team that works with it every day. We also consistently move the goalpost after we've reached our milestones, so we never stop challenging ourselves.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things in business is keeping your love of your business separate from the business itself. Sometimes things don't work out, and you have to detach yourself from it because, at the end of the day, business is business. Good business owners know when to hold them and when to fold them.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, start small but think big. Test-market your idea before jumping in full-throttle so that you don't burn through all of your investment income before you learn if something is a good idea or not. Ideas can often look good on paper but not be good in practice. There are so many variables you may not be aware of until you are in the thick of it. Second, that is also why it is important not to get stuck at the starting gate with analysis paralysis. You can keep refining your business plan all day long, but there are still things you don't know until after you've started. You must be willing to learn while doing it. My third tip would be to hire people based on personality, not skills. You can teach one of those things but not the other. Develop your company culture and find people who fit within it, and don't be afraid to hire slow and fire fast.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Don't be afraid of failure - be willing to learn from it instead. True failure comes not from falling but from refusing to get back up again.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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