Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nothing Was Fishy…The Case(s) Of The Would-Be Food Business Owners

Why yes, a garlic scape does make a decorative hat band!

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been privy to a couple of diametrically different conversations about starting and running a food business, both unsolicited. I’m always willing to proffer an opinion or point people in a direction when I’m able to. (Note to those seeking advice - while I’m happy to help, please email prior to picking up the phone and calling especially on weekends, some of us aren’t up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings (or Sunday for that matter)).

The recap below shows that everyone approaches solutions and what motivates them differently (esp. in different stages of business). Do you think one of these has a better chance?

Business One: Owner is just in the getting off the ground stage, with a business idea that  is a take off from something they’re currently doing for an employer. They’re in the research and planning stage, where the owner has investigated the market viability (which looks positive) and is looking at costs for getting the project off the ground. This person (the owner) wanted a little guidance as to where to begin figuring out what they’d need for infrastructure and permits for getting to the next stage (which includes perhaps building our their own production space). I was left with the impression that this person was motivated enough to do whatever it took to get their idea to fruition (and had the support of their loved ones to do it). I think they were also burnt out from their current gig.

Business Two: Owner has been in business for about three years with a ready to eat product, and has had some big ups and downs with their product in the marketplace (including a cafĂ© which opened and shuttered quickly). Owner is at a loss as to how to keep going and seemed somewhat unwilling to accept that they are the one that needs to keep their company moving forward. At this point, putting the company up for sale would probably not be feasible (they’re renting a facility, and the market value of the customers might not garner much). I’m not sure what they had in terms of a support network of friends and family. I told this person that they might want to look for a partner who was more sales oriented to foster some growth. There is no easy answer to keeping a business going without the willingness to put in the effort.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers (mostly opinions), and part of being willing to talk to people seeking advice is to gain my own perspective on issues and ideas. The post I wrote about renting commercial kitchen space is still the top visited post here. Wonder if that’ll change when I post about our newest fruit tart flavor….