Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kate Jackman, Founder of Chef Kate Personal Chef Services, located in Ypsilanti, MI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
A personal chef business. With my clients, I design customized menus for their families that I then cook in their home kitchen for them to enjoy. My customers are busy professional couples and families.
Tell us about yourself
I've always loved to cook since I was a teen. Both my mother and grandmother were great cooks. I worked in the book business for Borders Inc for years as a cookbook buyer before I decided to attend cooking school in Chicago. After four years of working in restaurants, I decided I wanted to start my own business and work more directly and personally with specific clients.
I love being an important part of my client's healthy lifestyle. I love introducing my clients--especially kids--to new foods and broadening their palates to discover foods they've never tried before. I love trying new dishes and the freshness involved in doing something a little bit different every day. And it's a big boost to see how much my clients love and appreciate the meals I cook.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being able to adapt to continuing food and economic conditions and keep my business thriving for 21 years! My business has weathered two recessions, a pandemic, and my own treatment for breast cancer. I think maintaining a vibrant business over that period of time is pretty impressive. That, and getting kids to enjoy broccoli!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a self-employed person, it is all on you. You wear all the hats--publicity, accounting, website maintenance, as well as doing all the actual work. You have to get and maintain client relationships, and those can be quickly ended by a move, job loss, or a pandemic!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Research to make sure your business fills a need--small business associations or your local university may have helpful resources.
- Make sure you have the skills needed to run your business well, or get the help you need by hiring others--but don't feel like you have to be "perfect" before you can start. You learn a lot as you go along, and too often, women especially feel like they have to be 120% qualified to start something.
- It's a lot of work, so do something you enjoy and can see continuing to do.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Make sure you give yourself rest time. Cultivate relationships. A large chunk of my business has come from a core group of clients. Happy clients are long-term clients. Not that you shouldn't invest energy in new clients, but they may not stay. Prioritize your relationships with loyal clients--and count on them for great referrals.
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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