I get asked about my job almost every day. From friends to clients to random people standing in line at the farmers’ market, everyone wants to know what it’s like running a catering business. It usually starts with the big W: “Why?” Why did I want to run my own business? Why catering? Why work for myself instead of someone else? The truth is that the answers to those questions change a lot, but the important thing is that I keep asking myself those same questions over and over again. While my inspiration may change and my goals may evolve, launching my own company was the right decision for me, and it all started because I was honest with myself about how I wanted my future to shape up.
If you’re thinking about starting up your own business, in the hospitality industry or otherwise, you should ask yourself the following questions first and really listen to how your heart and head reply.
Is there a problem out there I know I can solve?
Some people want to run a business just for the bragging rights. Those people don’t stay in business very long. Success requires a deeper desire to offer the general public something they really want or desperately need. Saint Germain Catering soothes the savage beast by feeding hungry people irresistibly delicious food. Maybe you’ll build a better mousetrap or invent a Slinky that never tangles. Who knows?
How do I define success?
Whether you want fame, fortune or just enough money to buy brand-name toilet paper instead of the cheap scratchy stuff, you need to know what your finish line looks like. If you want a ton of free time, running your own company may not be the perfect path. If you want to leave a legacy, create opportunities for other people and control your destiny, you may be ideally built for the insane world of entrepreneurship.
Are you able to self-police?
Business ownership comes with a crash course in accountability. No one (except perhaps your landlord) is going to squawk if you consistently sleep in late, miss your own deadlines and half-heartedly tackle projects. Being your own boss is both incredibly freeing and immensely trying; if you lack organizational skills and need to be reminded constantly in order to stay on task, your path is going to be rocky.
Can you support yourself for at least a year?
It takes time to turn a profit. Until that happens, you need a way to pay your rent, keep gas in the car and buy shampoo and conditioner on occasion. You’ll likely also discover that few things in your business blueprint will go according to plan. Having a nest egg or committed
investor willing to pony up some extra dough for a blown air conditioner or to replace a full pallet of tomatoes that are sour and mealy can make or break your entire operation.
There are so many things to consider before leaving your 9-to-5 for crazier pastures, and risking everything can be scary, but let me tell you, there are some pretty amazing rewards. Try it and see.