Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Diane Beaulieu, President of Entree Kitchen, located in Carol Stream, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Entree Kitchen is a meal prep kitchen providing prepared meals (ready-to-cook) to a variety of customers, from busy moms and dads to young professionals and empty-nesters. We are "Bringing Dinner Back to the Kitchen Table" by helping our customers to enjoy delicious, healthy, and prep-free dinners at home, thus allowing them to save time and stress around the dinner hour.
Tell us about yourself
I started my career in the restaurant world and have been in the "food" business almost my entire career. After having spent about 14 years in the business, initially running restaurants, I took a small step away to work in the dairy industry for one of the top three milking equipment manufacturers. With that company, I lived in three countries and met my husband while working in Quebec. We moved back to the Chicago area about a year after getting married and started our family. Once my twins were on the way, I knew I needed help getting dinner on the table; that's when I discovered and fell in love with Entree Kitchen. We loved it so much that we bought it about 18 months later. What's so rewarding about owning this business and serving our customers is that we are helping with a life necessity! Everyone needs to eat, and providing a way to eat healthy, delicious dinners on a regular basis and our helping to take something off the customer's "plate" or to-do list is both rewarding and fulfilling.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Since taking over this business, we have quintupled the number of customers we serve both in-store through our pickup service as well as our expanded delivery service. We have also grown our team accordingly. We have a great team who really care about the customer's at-home experience, and team members like that are hard to find, especially in today's job market.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I love a good challenge, and being a business owner is definitely a major undertaking. I love the challenge that being a business owner brings with it. It is truly an awesome responsibility to have team members relying on our business for their livelihood and customers relying on us for delicious meals at dinner time while caring for my own family at the same time, especially in those early years when my sons were so young, and my husband traveled extensively for work. I can now see that my sons are growing up to have the strong work ethic that I have modeled for them over the last 14 years and that they are proud of the company we have built and the work we do in the community and I hope that they will come to fully realize that some of the sacrifices that came with doing that are well worth the effort.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
If one is considering starting or buying a business, I would highly recommend these things. First, make sure you have enough working capital to get through the lean months/year(s) ahead. Second, it is important to have the mindset to be "working on" your business and not just "in your business" from the start. If you don't set aside time to focus on sales, marketing, and planning for the future, you'll be stuck buried in the day-to-day work as an employee of the business instead of the leader. And last...find your tribe! Definitely set aside time to network and create relationships with other business owners who will become valuable resources and cheerleaders for you and your business!
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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