Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeremy Evans, founder of Kitchen-Man, located in Billings, MT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is called "Kitchen-Man," and I am a self-proclaimed, Culinary Hero For Hire! I've spent most of my adult life working in kitchens and various restaurants, but in recent years I noticed a heavy decline in staffing all over the industry. I came up with the idea to sell myself as someone a restaurant or chef could call to help lend a hand through a busy period until they got their staff back to 100%. My main goal has always been to show up to as many local restaurants as possible and help whoever I could.
I also transitioned into other side-hustles, such as catering, homemade macarons, cooking classes, and in-home private dinners! Basically, I just wanted to be my own version of a superhero, and this seemed like the best way to inspire myself and others to renew their passion for cooking.
Tell us about yourself
It all started around the tail-end of the Covid pandemic. Early in 2021, I was working almost 80 hours a week, I couldn't find staff to hire, and I noticed it was like that in nearly every locally operated restaurant. One night after a long shift, I was brainstorming solutions and the name "Kitchen-Man" popped into my head. Almost instantly, I was making business cards, talking to some of my friends in the industry, and planning a business model.
Within a few weeks, I had my own LLC, and I was taking gigs in some of my hometown's most highly rated restaurants. After a few months, I found myself so busy that I had to start narrowing down my selection and take the jobs that meant the most to me. I think that's what motivates me the most is being able to select the opportunities I take on a weekly basis. From that point, I'm really doing whatever I want to do, making a name for myself, and I get to have a blast doing it!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment so far is probably being offered a position to help open and manage a gourmet donut shop. A couple of friends of mine in the industry came to me with the idea of opening "Proof Donuts and Coffee," and they needed someone to help them operate the logistical side of the kitchen. They knew I had the experience and personality to work well with them, so they brought me into the fold. I also knew it would be a great opportunity for me to establish a home base for Kitchen-Man, and we could help each other grow our own brands under the same roof.
We opened the doors in early May and have been selling out almost every day since we opened. After we sell out of donuts, the restaurant transitions into "Kal's Chicken Coop," which allows us another source of income, as well as the ability to employ full-time employees, it may not be my biggest accomplishment, but it is certainly my favorite and the most enjoyable, day in and day out!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing for me is managing all the office work that comes with owning a business. I don't make enough income on Kitchen-Man alone to be able to hire anyone else, so I basically do all the bookkeeping, scheduling, planning, and cooking on my own. Sometimes I'll bring on a friend or family member to help me with a bigger event, but most of it falls onto me. It's definitely the most stressful part of the job, but it also teaches me the most.
I've learned so many things about business and management just by diving into this idea. I never took any business classes, so every day is pretty much a lesson I'm learning through my peers and Google searches. The internet is a powerful tool, but staring at a screen can get exhausting. Twelve hours standing over a fryer is no big deal, but 4 hours in front of my computer is my Kryptonite!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your research and open your business correctly. There is a lot of legal paperwork and fees that I didn't consider until I was already too far into the process to back out. Had I talked to a business professional ahead of time, I probably would have been more prepared for the things I didn't consider.
- Try and open a business with little to no overhead costs. I didn't really have to do much to start Kitchen-Man, aside from acquiring a business license, paying some state fees, and making myself some business cards and t-shirts. At the end of the day, the only product I'm selling is myself, so I practically invested nothing other than time into my business. That was the best thing I could've done, considering I had just purchased a house and had another child. They say you have to spend money to make money, but aside from buying groceries, I didn't spend much at all.
- Start a business you truly enjoy. Don't jump in head first if it's not something you are truly passionate about and can't do every day. I think too many people get excited about an idea, and then they realize how much work really goes into running that business every day. It can be exhausting at times, but if you really take pride in what you're doing, it all becomes worth it and gives you that new sense of drive to accomplish what you set out to do.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I just want to thank everyone who has supported me from day one! I had some people say this idea would never be able to support my family, but Kitchen-Man is the best career decision I have ever made! Take pride in what you do, and people will support whatever business you decide to start. Be yourself, enjoy what you do, and never take the easy way out. And remember: If you need a hand, call Your Friendly Neighborhood,
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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