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The Personal Chef Business Plan

 

Years ago, I found myself combing the internet for hours, perusing various business plans. I was trying to figure out what needs to be included in my own personal chef business plan that I was about to launch. Turns out, it was a total waste of hours that lead to weeks then months of procrastination.

 

At this point in my career, ten years later, looking back at all that planning, I would call this "analysis paralysis". This is a phrase that describes when overthinking a situation delays ever getting started. 

 

When you find yourself planning and planning and planning, continuing to gather information, then never taking action in getting started what you were planning in the first place, you've fallen into analysis paralysis.

 

Yes, I fell into the trap of thinking I needed to create a detailed business plan before starting my personal chef business. What tax structure am I going to create? What are my income goals for the year? What...

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Should I offer discounts in my personal chef business?

 

 

When first starting your personal chef business, it's not unusual for your friends and family to ask you to offer your cooking services for free or at a discount. They may even package it as "getting your name out there."

 

Decide now how you will handle discount requests in your business.

 

You might be tempted when you first start out in business to offer your services for free or maybe even at a discount.

 

When I first started in business, I had a friend who owned a hair salon and was having an art opening. She thought it would be a great opportunity for those who had never been to her business to visit the salon while perusing works of art. She asked if I would be interested in catering the event.

 

Because I was new in business, I was extremely excited about catering this event and wanted to make it extra special. I spent a lot of time researching interesting appetizers, probably more time than usual since I was so new. I created a fantastic...

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What's the difference between a personal chef and a private chef?

 

 

Today’s question is, “what’s the difference between a personal chef and a private chef?” This is actually one of my pet peeves - when people call me a private chef.

They’re wrong. I’m a personal chef!

 

Private Chef 

A private chef works for just one family, one individual or one couple. They have one employer. A person has hired them, paid them a salary, and most likely also pays out benefits. They have set hours or perhaps flexible hours.

Hours are different for every private chef and are negotiated via a contract that includes guidelines on how the client and employee will work together. The private chef may also travel with the client occasionally.

In summary, a private chef works for just one client, often one family.

 

Personal Chef

A personal chef works for numerous families. I usually have between 12 and 16 families at a time and have my company legally structured in a way that I'm paying myself a salary each month. I...

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What stage of the personal chef business are you in?

 

What stage of your personal chef business are you in?

 

Sometimes you’re in two stages at once or may choose to stay in one stage forever.

The three stages of business

  • Startup
  • Monetization
  • Scale

 

You're likely currently in the start-up phase where you’re taking the time to invest in yourself and understand how to become an entrepreneur in your new personal chef business.

 

The monetization stage is when you’re making a profit and learning the most effective ways to market your particular business model to which your community responds. 

 

At stage three, you’re ready to expand into new opportunities to add to your personal chef business. You may consider franchising or certifying others to become personal chefs under your brand. 

 

Stage 1: Startup 

When in the startup stage, it’s easy to get stuck perfecting your logo or website when you should be concentrating on getting...

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I'm a chef and I didn't attend culinary school

 

If you're having confidence issues calling yourself a chef, consider the fact that there is no mention of culinary school in these definitions.

  • Oxford Dictionary, "a professional cook"
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "a skilled cook who manages the kitchen"

 

Did you know that these celebrity chefs did not attend culinary school?

  • Gordon Ramsay
  • Ina Garten
  • Guy Fieri
  • Martha Stewart
  • Ree Drummond
  • Rachel Ray
  • Tom Colicchio
  • Lidia Bastianich
  • Mario Batali

 

I honestly get more negative feedback on this statement than any other content I share. Chefs who have attended culinary schools get offended and will send messages stating that culinary school chefs worked hard to get to where they are and it's insulting for just anyone to call themselves a chef.

 

I didn't say "just anyone" could call themselves a chef. Also, do you think that the people on that list above didn't work hard to get to where they're at?

 

Culinary school is not the only place to receive a kitchen...

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How long can I work under the table before making my personal chef business legal?

 

Question: How long can I work under the table before making my personal chef business legal?

 

You're killing me here. You should never work under the table when doing something as risky as cooking food for people other than your family.

 

You MUST protect yourself with liability insurance.

  • What if you're cooking at the client's home and burn the house down?
  • What if your client has a lethal allergy and you forgot to read the label on the mustard container to see if it contained the allergen?
  • What if you cut off your fingers, don't have medical insurance, and can't work for a year?

 

You MUST be a true professional and run your business while holding a business license or tax certificate. A business caught operating without a license could be forced to cease operations. In some instances, a business might have to wait out a mandatory probationary period or worse, a city can refuse to grant a license to the business.

 

When running a service...

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What part-time job could I do while building my personal chef business?

 

In case you don't already know, you can’t decide to become a personal chef today, then start full-time tomorrow.

 

Not only do you have to work at building a clientele, but you also need time to build up systems of efficiency in your business.

 

Part of building your business could be gaining experience and education by working with other food service companies as you get your personal chef business off the ground. Of course you could work in restaurants, but have you considered applying at local catering companies or banquet halls? Caterers often have a high staff turnover, so if you can show up and become a reliable, active employee who wants to learn more, you will do well.

 

I must emphasize that working in the kitchen is not the only place to learn from another food service company.

 

Being a personal chef is not just about cooking well. Being a personal chef is also about offering a service. Working front of house at a catering company...

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Are business cards dead in the new normal?

 

When starting out in business, having business cards printed is often at the top of the checklist. How else would you share with someone at a networking event about your business?

 

COVID obviously changed how we network with others, but really, wasn't the business card already dead?

 

If you meet someone at a typical party, you will usually give them your phone number or have them connect with you on Facebook or Instagram. You aren't likely handing them a card with your contact info printed on it, so why would you do this in your business?

 

Surprising to me, going to my first Chamber of Commerce mixer, I was met with a couple hundred people all carrying stacks of business cards. Their goal was to hand out their own stack in exchange for others' business cards. I did arrive with my own stack of business cards as well, but the thought of this whole exchange seemed antiquated. I took my new stack of acquaintance business cards home, entered them into my...

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Concentrate on the business, not the business cards

 

I heard this line on a podcast today, "concentrate on the business, not the business cards."

 

The statement felt perfectly applicable for many starting a new business. Instead of networking to find clients, a chef new in their personal chef business will spend hours perfecting their logo or colors on their website. Yes, branding is an important detail, but it doesn't make direct money for your business.

 

Branding is used to create a memorable impression of your company. It's a way of distinguishing your business from the competitors and clarifying what it is you offer that makes your company the better choice. 

 

The question is, "at what point in your business should you concentrate on branding?" I'm of the opinion that branding should come later in the business, as much as twelve months after you receive your first client. 

 

Everything I read about building a business starts with branding as one of the first...

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Customizing Personal Chef Menus for Each Client

 

Potential clients may ask, "can you send over a sample menu for my event of 12 guests celebrating a 40th birthday," or "do you have a sample menu for your weeknight dinner meal prep?"

 

In my personal chef business, the problem in providing a sample menu is that I create a custom menu for each client.

 

It just wouldn't be possible to have one menu for ten different families desiring meal prep.

  • One family will be gluten-free and doesn't want to see tomatoes on the menu while another eats vegan and has an allergy to nuts.
  • How would one menu satisfy everyone?
  • As well, produce changes with the seasons and that sample menu would have to be continually evolving.

 

Clients hire personal chefs for their meal customizing abilities. They want to feel that their menu options are unique to their personal lifestyle. 

 

The same holds true with a sample menu for an event. There are often allergies or dietary restrictions with one or more guests, so the...

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