Many students who come to Kendall share a common goal: to open their own business. In fact, I was one of those students. Having decided to forge a new path for myself, I enrolled in Kendall’s certificate of professional cookery in 2002. Shortly after, I founded Bespoke Cuisine, a full-service catering company that we transformed into a cooking party business with a focus on team building.
Building a business takes a lot of research and planning. Once you have completed all of the behind-the-scenes prep comes your first reward: the day you open those doors. That moment is exhilarating. Not only because you’ve accomplished something great, but also because you receive immediate feedback. On the first day, you know which dishes were stars and which need a little tender love and care based on the plates that come back. Next, you start seeing an increase in reservations. That’s when you know you’re on the right track.
When you own a business, it’s analogous to having a child: It never, ever leaves your mind. It’s easy to become seduced into thinking about the obvious aspects of your business, such as the menu, sourcing your ingredients, and the guest experience. But the business demands you think about every single detail. Will the cooler break? It can change your bottom line in an evening.
In the food industry, stage (pronounced with an “ah” sound) is a powerful way to explore the industry. These stages allow you to enter and explore a range of environments—a bakery that focuses on building community, a fine dining restaurant led by a Michelin-starred chef, or a small eatery specializing in farm to table. I absolutely recommend you gain those experiences. It will help shape your business ideas and allow you to learn advanced on-the-job skills before diving in headfirst. It will also reveal your passions and allow you to tweak your concept.
Before you take those steps in the industry, however, it’s essential to begin with a solid education. One very important reason why I’m so invested in all we do at Kendall is because we’re helping to prepare the leaders in our industry. At Kendall, you have many options of which to choose. You can focus on one discipline, such as culinary or hospitality, or you can select to complement your studies with course work or a degree in business.
You start with the big idea. Lay it all out on the table and add detail after detail—and slowly revise it, creating a tighter and tighter concept that you know, though your education, internships, and work experience, will succeed.
Tell me—what skill do you think is most important in driving success as an entrepreneur? Please share your thoughts in the comments!