Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Elaine Koch, co-owner of The Cookie Jar Eatery, located in Sioux Falls, SD.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is The Cookie Jar Eatery. We've been baking from scratch for 19 years in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As pioneers of the Downtown revitalization, we have helped establish a robust culinary community. By paving the way as a fresh, never frozen, made from scratch establishment we raised the bar for what good food could be in our city. We are proud of the growth we've experienced over the years and continue to cultivate a community through relationship building and hard work.
Tell us about yourself
Glen and I are farm kids at heart. We grew up in a rural setting and try to showcase our pioneer spirit in everything we do. As both of us grew up we eventually found our way to corporate America. After successful careers in sales, we decided that we wanted to do something that felt more authentic. Baking has always been a passion of mine (Glen has always been supportive and happy to taste test) and creating the opportunity to share my passion with my community has allowed for a satisfying second act to our professional lives.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm very proud of the people that have worked for us over the years. As a small business owners, we take a lot of pride in growing leaders within our work environment. Some of our past employees have gone on to teach in our local schools, start businesses of their own, work in healthcare and excel in information technology.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think the uncertainty of not knowing what tomorrow will bring is the hardest challenge we face. In our years in business, we faced the recession of 2008 and the global pandemic of 2020. Building a business that can sustain itself in the worst of times allows us to thrive in the best of times. This creates a lot of pressure on a business owner, but the ones that are cut out for it have the opportunity to live a very fulfilling life.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
1.) Don't be afraid to ask for help. You cannot be the CEO. What I mean by that is that you cannot be the Chief Everything Officer in your business. For example, social media didn't exist when we started out. I used to have a fax list of local businesses that I'd send our monthly specials out to. As times have changed and evolved I've had to get really good at simply asking for help.
2.) Pay yourself. This is very difficult, but you have to account for yourself. As a business owner, nobody will be looking out for you except you. When you make your budget always make sure your salary is included.
3.) Build sustaining relationships. Get out in your community and meet as many people as you can. Owning is business is a lot like being a politician, except you get to keep your promises and in our case deliver baked goodies.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Butter makes things better.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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