Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food service but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tim Armstrong, Founder of The Hybrid Chef, located in Jupiter, FL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am a private chef who operates a meal prep and catering company, so our clients range from busy families with children in after-school activities to businesses looking for catered lunches to private services for celebrities that have homes in the local area.

Tell us about yourself

I first stepped foot in a kitchen during the summer before my freshman year of high school as a dishwasher, fry cook (which may not have been totally on board with local labor laws at the time), and bus boy on weekends at a local Elks Lodge. After that, it seemed logical to stay in the field through high school as an experience meant as much as 25 cents extra an hour back in the late 80s. However, once I started getting promotions in a relatively short time at several restaurants, I realized it was something I was actually good at and enjoyed. And then, I had an employer offer to put me through a local apprenticeship program, and the rest is history.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is actually taking steps to do it again, then maintaining the success six years later. In 2008, I opened a restaurant, won best new restaurant, and closed all within a year due, in large part, to the economy's collapse about five months after my doors opened. Not only did it crush my soul, but it crushed my family financially as well. We literally lost everything we had and things we didn't even have yet. Then to retake the step eight years later, and to have the local success that we have had, has been more than exciting.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

At the end of the day, and especially in a small food business, every last detail is your responsibility. There are days that the physical part of the job, which can be endless sometimes, are the easy hours of the day. I chose the food business because it is something I like to do. I earn a decent living, and I get great enjoyment out of creating enjoyment for others. However, because our small staff of 6 is focused on the kitchen, I handle all the accounting, marketing, email response, event planning, etc. Those details aren't as fun as the profession I chose, but they must get done.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Understand the business you are pursuing to give yourself an advantage of knowing the types of pitfalls that could arise. There are countless individuals that have made money in other industries only to think it a great idea to use some of that money to open a restaurant without knowing how they operate. Then they quickly find out the various outlets that drip money if you aren't paying strict attention to it, and before you know it, you are closing your doors for the last time.
  2. Go in with the attitude you need to outwork any member of your team from day one and know you can't stop until you've hired and trained your replacement. The second you let your guard down, your competition creeps up on and passes you.
  3. Know exactly the results you are looking for before starting. For me, who was fast approaching my mid-40s, it wasn't just cooking food for people to enjoy; it was to develop a business that HAD to sustain my family.

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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