Well, it’s been, what, five months–six months–since what should probably call “before times.” Who can keep track anymore? In that time, many or most of us have found our lives and businesses have been turned upside down. Some of us have gotten sick. Some have lost family or friends. Our country has lost more than 150,000 people. These are sad, confusing, frustrating days.

And, yet, we have to go on, albeit carefully. Those of us who operate solo businesses have to do our best to hang in there and find new resources, new ideas, and new opportunities to shine and earn a living. It’s all about flexibility, ingenuity, and doggedness.

Over the past several months we’ve tried to offer ideas and inspiration for new approaches to your personal chef business. And we’ll continue to do so.

Today, though, here are some tips for solo entrepreneurs. We tend to call these the lazy days of summer. If that’s true for you, perhaps it’s the right time to start mulling over next steps and thinking about how to rev up business come fall. We’re hoping these tips can sizzle your brain and juice up your enthusiasm for this very important business you run.

  • Stay agile and don’t be afraid to say no. Andrew Wassenaar of software firm Timely makes the great point that without extra staff, solo business owners have less baggage and are able to enjoy more freedom in business. It’s so true. You may wish you had help or a boss to tell you what to do, but as a personal chef running your own business you have the agility to switch things up if you find something isn’t working or you discover something unexpected that brings you joy–and more money! As Wassenaar notes, it also gives you the flexibility to say no to whatever doesn’t align with your vision. “It comes back to the fact that time is valuable, and when it’s being consumed by things that don’t contribute to what you’re doing, it’s being wasted,” he writes.
  • Be specific with your goals. Kelly Spors of The Hartford’s SmallBiz Ahead published seven business tips from successful small business owners. One of them seemed directly relevant to personal chef business owners. Be very specific with your goals. Break big goals into smaller ones. It could be based on a timeline, such as 10 years, three years, and one year. It could be work/life. It could be seasonal. Once you have set your goals, develop a dashboard that allows you to note your progress with your goals to help you stay focused.
  • Build a wide range of skills. Small Business Trends published a list of 21 rules for solopreneurs to live by. Among them is “Build a Wide Range of Skills.” Now you already know how to cook, but during this down or downish time you could focus some more on the skills of owning a business–like marketing and accounting. Networking might seem like a crazy idea these days but “out of sight, out of mind” is a cliché that’s all too true. Work on your Zoom or Facetime skills and make or revive connections. Get smart with video and teach virtual cooking classes. Learn how to write professional recipes using tools like “The Recipe Writer’s Handbook” and put together virtual meal kits for clients or launch a food blog. Improve your food photography.
  • Get technical. Of all places, The UPS Store published a series of tips to advertise your solo business. Their idea is you want to drive awareness and engagement. Even if you don’t advertise, we hope you’re doing a good amount of marketing via social media, email newsletters, and blogs. We’ve offered lots of tips on these in the past, but here are some extra ones. If you’re on Twitter, use their polling feature in a multiple choice survey question about, well, anything. Perhaps you’re interested in changing up your menu. You could test out ideas. Or you’re considering targeting a different type of client. Ask questions that would help determine if athletes or vegans or adult children helping their aging parents are a viable option. Or just ask food-related questions that are fun and capture an audience’s imagination. They also advocate asking for retweets on Twitter (let’s extend that to “sharing” on Facebook and Instagram) and making use of SEO, but using SEO keywords that aren’t as competitive. Clueless about SEO? See above’s “build a wide range of skills.”
  • Band together with others. Time published a fascinating piece on small business owners banding together to adapt during the pandemic. It featured a New York City chef scheduled to open her first restaurant in March. She never got a chance to open it. As you can imagine, she had to transition to takeout and discovered a community of fellow restaurateurs in her neighborhood seeking to help one another. As personal chefs, you work alone. But you live in a community that might have other personal chefs, and certainly small markets, farmers, and other purveyors. You all need to do business. How can you help one another? Perhaps you buy from them, they promote your services. Or you and your fellow personal chefs who have different types of clients can cross promote each other. This calls for networking, zoom meetings, and ingenuity.

What tips resonate with you? Do you have any special tips to share with your colleagues?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

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