Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Anna Saunders, Owner of Chef Anna, located in Springfield, MO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a private chef, serving local and traveling clients, usually, ones who are interested in local, fresh, innovative, and high-quality ingredients. Most find me in my own city, but I fly to clients for events as well. Clients range from golfers to music composers, to business owners, to young couples getting started in life and wanting to splurge a little.
Tell us about yourself
I went to college as a piano major but injured my hands and was unable to play anymore. I didn't want to go back to culinary school, so instead, I traveled the world, getting hands-on experience working at some of the top Michelin star restaurants to learning right alongside locals. I spent two summers in Norway and now specialize in Scandinavian-inspired cuisine since I am part Norwegian.
I got to meet many of my relatives, who made these trips even more memorable. In the course of 5 years, I'd traveled to 14 different countries trying each cuisine and learning about the cultures. I would then come home and create dishes inspired by my travels for my clients. I also competed in several national cooking competitions, which propelled me forward even more.
Competition, continuous movement, and growth propel me forwards. I am motivated by simply turning my experiences into something others can enjoy as well.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
A year ago, it would have been receiving the "Chef of the Year" Award in my city from FEAST, a well-established food publication. After cooking for thousands of people and creating thousands of menu items over the past five years, it was a huge honor, and I was very grateful for all the clients, friends, and supporters who voted for me.
But I think even more than that, and it's being able to give clients an experience they haven't had elsewhere. One of my long-time clients told me the other day, "This meal was incredible. You continue growing and developing flavors when I think it can't get any better. It's so good I am tearing up." This is why I love to cook for people-- to give them a little taste of art in the way I see it.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
There are two.
- Being my own boss.
- Saying no.
Since I'm in charge of my schedule, that means no time off or could mean all the time in the world. At home or away from home, I worked around the clock. Setting specific amounts of time for things was key to being the most productive.
Being the direct contact between clients, I am constantly in the position of whether I can take on another event or if I need to say no, the schedule is full. This one is especially hard because I don't want to let people down.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Reverse Engineer. Think about where you want your business to be, and work backward to figure out how to get there.
- Accountability. Especially when starting your own business, have others there for you. My secret was telling others I was going to do something, and then, ha! There's no turning back since everyone will be asking how things are coming along.
- Push yourself, but remember, you cannot serve others if you don't take care of yourself first.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Yes, don't forget to travel. Every entrepreneurial endeavor can either be taken with you (if it's all online) or studied in another part of the world (learning from other cultures). There is too much inspiration out there not to take advantage of, and you will never be more perfectly positioned than when you are your own boss.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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