5 Steps to Achieve Your Entrepreneurial Dreams
“If YOU don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs.” This quote is one of my favorites and perfectly describes how I started my journey.
Following a dream and being an entrepreneur means more than just being in charge or telling other people what to do and how to do it. Most people are shocked at the amount of steps I had to take and the mistakes I had to make to get from corporate to entrepreneurial freedom.
After being presented with an opportunity to take a severance package from my cushy six-figure income job or relocate to another facility, I was at a serious crossroad. My spirituality and faith has always taught me, everything happens for a reason and I should “lean not onto my own understanding.” Maybe it was time, but I had to be smart about my transition.
Ensuring I had enough funds to take care of my daughter and I was essential. So I stepped out on faith and created a plan that allowed me to eventually, completely walk away from corporate America and start my journey. A real BOSS has to put in work and take the necessary steps, if you don’t want a 9-5 be prepared to hustle 24-7 to pursue your dreams!
1. Recognize your passion.
Cooking for people has always been a passion of mine and I never realized I could do this for a living. While raising my daughter, putting myself through college, and working in a corporate office, I’d always cook up something special and then invite my family and friends to my house, watching Food Network and all the cooking shows regularly for inspiration. The creation of different types of foods was something I would do and love and I always strived to deconstruct the meals that were showcased or put my own special twist or spin on it.
2. Make a plan for your new business.
After I’d been introduced to the field of network marketing, a light bulb went off. I saw entrepreneurs that owned their companies and were building wealth that they could pass on to their families for years to come. I realized working in corporate would take me 10 plus years to accomplish what they had in less than half the time. While still working my full-time job, for the next five years, I surrounded myself with those individuals. I began to attend events, conferences, groups and read every book I could find so that I could learn how to become an entrepreneur and start my own business.
3. Bridge the knowledge gap.
When I went to college, my major was in business, but I concentrated on marketing. Being a chef and cooking for a living was not in my plans. But because I’d embarked on this new journey, I needed to understand the industry and learn how to take my cooking skills to a new level. I didn’t have the time or money to go to school to become a chef so I taught myself. In addition to watching Food Network, the Internet was another tool that helped me learn. It became a less expensive way to quickly enhance my skillset and gain culinary pride . I was inspired when I learned that some of the most famous chefs in the world didn’t even go to culinary school.
4. Seek resources.
Networking was important to growing my brand. When I first started out, I was working a full-time job and had saved start-up funds, but I still didn’t have enough to go out and build a restaurant. I avidly sought out investors and researched to find individuals that could help me raise the funds to get my business off the ground. I attended the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference and won $10,000 by pitching my business idea, but I didn’t stop there. Later that year, while delivering a fried turkey to a beautiful home in the Chicagoland area, I met the angel investors that helped bring my dream to a reality. Within the next two months, I secured a deposit on the funds I needed to completely leave my company and work on my business full time.
5. Assess and modify your business vision.
My business plan is and always has been a living document. When I first started, my company I named it Creative Turkey Cuisine and it was based on a vision for an exclusive turkey based menu. Although a great idea, I realized I was leaving out the vegetarian market so I incorporated vegetarian cuisine into the menu . Later, I decided to revamp the business again I realized a mobile food business would be less expensive and a great way to get the business to a state of profitability.
Before I invested anymore funds, I researched the industry and started a pilot program selling food out of the trunk of my car to friends, family and businesses. This was a great success that led me to expanding the menu to incorporate chicken, fish and select beef. These were items I was very familiar with cooking at home and it also allowed me the opportunity to attract a new customer base that I hadn’t tapped into. I wanted to ensure folks still understood my signature item is fried turkey and yes, I’m still the “turkey lady” but at last, My Creative Cuisine was born.
About Shay Atkins
Entrepreneur Shay Atkins is an advocate of healthy and great-tasting food. As founder of My Creative Cuisine, a mobile and catering which specializes in turkey, chicken, fish, and vegetarian cuisine, her work centers around two concepts—helping people and feeding them amazing meals.