Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michelle Rochester, Founder of MNR Catering, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a chef, and my business is MNR Catering. We are a catering company that specializes in Authentic Caribbean & International dishes. Experience the taste of the Caribbean with us, and you'll taste the quality in every bite. We offer buffet stations, brunches, appetizer stations, dessert stations, and drink stations. Our clients are individuals who are interested in taking the additional stress away from planning events. We are a full-service catering company. Not only do we cook the food, but we also come on-site and set up with table linen, table decor to match your theme, warmers and heat lamps to keep your food nice and hot, catering utensils, servers, and food styling, and tear down. We are determined to not only fill our customers' bellies but to put a smile on their faces with our excellent presentation and our delicious homemade authentic Jamaican flavours. Our goal is to have our clients 100% satisfied by the end of the booking. Our clients are the ones that are not afraid to pay for convenience and luxurious services because they understand the value we offer. It takes a team of professionals to create a memorable event with tasty foods.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Michelle Rochester. I am Canadian-Jamaican. I started cooking at a young age and shortly after fell in love with cooking. The key ingredient in MNR Catering recipes is love. What first got me to start my business was losing my grandfather back in 2018. I took a leap of faith with encouragement and push from one of my family members. My grandfather always used to tell me I needed to start putting myself first and should focus on myself. I took my grandfather's advice, and I started my own catering company on January 5, 2019. My son Stretchy motivates me every single day to keep pushing. Without my son, I don't believe I'd be an entrepreneur. I've learned some valuable lessons being a parent, which I use in my business. Life growing up for me wasn't easy at all. I do not want my son to experience certain situations I faced. My son always hypes me up when I have my bookings; he's truly a blessing. He is my little helper at MNR Catering. And being a parent has been the key factor in motivating me with my business.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner was registering my business from a Sole proprietorship to a Corporation and rebranding to a full-service catering company. We now have employees, and we are growing fast, bigger and better. I had the opportunity to cater to TDSB (Toronto District School Board) and cater for a high school in downtown Toronto. I also taught the grade 9 students how to cook fried chicken from scratch. Being a role model for my son and community is one of my biggest accomplishments this far.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is the process and journey to success. I say this to say with every journey comes learning lessons and curve balls. Life is full of ups and downs, but you'll definitely face it as an entrepreneur because it's inevitable. The L's you take as a business owner are the hardest ones as you are in charge of a recognized company. The lessons need to happen to mold you into the person you need to be. It's a hard pill to swallow owning a company as all the responsibilities fall on you. When you make mistakes, it really affects the business. It's important to take away the experience from the situation. You never really take an L; you learn from the mistake and develop the knowledge you never had before. The obstacles you face as an entrepreneur are one of the hardest things for being a business owner.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find something that you love to do. When you don't love what you do, it's easy for you to give up and call it quits. It is important to find something that you love to do because you'll be doing this for the next few years. When you have a passion for what you do, you always want to be better than you were before. You won't give up because this is something you enjoy doing. When you love what you do, your clients can feel the love as well.
- Be professional when you've decided on what you want to do as a business owner; you need to portray yourself as a professional. You must be able to play the part correctly, dress the part, speak the part & operate the business correctly. As a professional, it's important to have business cards. A Business card is your contact ID & information card for promoting your business. It is important to have a website and not only depend on social media. You must separate personal from business; the worst thing to do is to mix the two. Having a system, being professional requires you to have a system and a method of how you conduct your business.
- Be financially stable before fully committing to being a full-time entrepreneur. Every idea is great; what most individuals lack is capital. You need money to fund a business. It takes money to make money. It will be years before you start seeing profit in your business, as you need to have a solid foundation and always keep investing back in your business. To start a business, you need materials & supplies, which cost money. You'll need to advertise your services and/or products which cost money. You need to pay for overhead expenses. If you have employees, you need to pay them. It's important to be financially stable when running a business as it will ease additional stress away. You need at least $1,000.00 to start a business. You cannot start a business without money. It takes money to register your business, create business cards, etc. Having capital is necessary for starting out and running a business. You need to have savings and money for a rainy day.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'd like to say celebrate all your wins, big or small. Keeping the momentum alive in your business is essential. It keeps the energy going and the vibes popping. When you celebrate your wins, you recognize how far you've come from, and you see your growth. This encourages you and pushes you to be better than you were before. Celebrating your accomplishments is healthy as a business owner because it reminds you that you are great and you did a great job.
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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