The Chocolate Life

Discover Chocolate and Live La Vida Cocoa!

http://www.fabjob.com/chocolateshop.asp

Has anyone ever purchased something like this, or perhaps this item?

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Hi Annette,

I haven't read it, but personal opinion (based on reading the blurb): if you don't know most of what is listed as being in that e-book (either business related, or industry related), then I wouldn't recommend buying it with the intention of starting a business.

Your post about "loving what you do" sums why. If you have a passion for making [insert your preferred chocolate here] then you will already know the product related information. The business skills and information you can get from many sources that may not even cost you money. I doubt that there would be enough solid material here to equip a person to leap headfirst into a business.

Given how many "Fabjobs" books this site sells, I would expect much of the content to be formulaic.

Just my opinion based on the promotional info. I think that there are probably enough experienced people in this group to give you more solid information than any one book could.
Hi Langdon,

Yes, there are lots of people here that offer great advice. I know a few people who are interested in opening their own shops, and these books appeal to them. They are not as experienced as the rest. If they have purchased anything and have questions about what is out there to guide them, I want them to not be intimidated by the more accomplished people here. Some of you are overwhelming with the success that you have accomplished. Two of the groups that I post on elsewhere have started coming over here, and I do hear it. I need a safe entry place for them.

Annette
Interesting perspective Annette, I hadn't considered that other people may find these groups intimidating. However even if that is the case, I don't think that the Fabjobs books will really provide value for money.

Google is the most powerful research tool our society has ever had. There is so much good information available that a person doesn't even have to actively participate in a group like this until they are confident in what they know.

I would be saving my money to pay for the specialist technical information that can help with the nitty gritty of production, or put it toward start-up costs.
Anything can intimidate. Participate with a usability study of anything and you'll see hehe.

A few years ago we went down a coffee shop idea road but real estate in our region was so overpriced we couldn't build the economics of it all. During that time I read more books, howtos, ebooks, and we even had consultants. The ebooks were mostly light cliff notes that left you hanging/questioning a lot. Books are good but still don't talk back. Great if they offer forms you can pilfer. Good consultants are worth their weight but having enough cash to pay for them is another thing, especially in most startups where running capital is going to be slim.

The best advice I found was to meet more people doing what you are doing and as a collective they become the best consultancy and support network you can have.
I have to admit that I am biased when I respond to a question like this as I do offer consulting services to chocolate companies - from startups to more established firms.

eBooks and books can provide you with some context. In my experience, the places where people get tripped up is that they don't know what they don't know. A book can provide you with some questions you need to get the answers to - though they can't give you all the questions you need answers to or all the answers to the questions they do know how to answer.

Reaching out to a local network is good - but they only know what they know. So, the value of the advice grows as the network grows. Having one source is okay, two is really bad (because you may have no way of evaluating opinions that contradict each other), so three should be considered the minimum. You may have trouble finding them locally, but one of the reasons I started the TheChocolateLife was to help people in exactly this way.

[Taking off my ChocolateLife moderator hat and Putting on my consulting hat.]

As a consultant I bring a broad range of experiences gained from working in many different kinds of situations to each of my client's unique wants and needs. Spending a little money on a consultant can actually save you a lot - money, headaches, lost business, and more.

For example, for one client of mine the landlord owned a restaurant so he had his kitchen designer design her chocolate kitchen as a part of the lease. It was a really bad design with horrible equipment selection and she would have spent at least $10,000 on building out the space that she didn't have to spend, not to mention buying a whole lot of the wrong equipment - and those were only two of the problems. In less than two years she's outgrown her space and is looking to move. She is very glad that she did not spend the money on building out the kitchen that was originally designed and on equipment that could not easily be moved.

It does not have to be really expensive. [Spoiler for a little commercial for me here - something I don't engage in all that often.]

I structure my engagements around 10 hour blocks of time for $1000/month with a three month minimum. I book no more than 10, 10-hour blocks in a given month and I don't take a look at the clock taking care of incidental communication, goal setting, or report writing so my clients only pay for the time I am actively engaged on their behalf. (Plus agreed-upon expenses.)

If I am allowed to do my job properly, I routinely save my clients 3-10 times (or more) what they pay me in fees by keeping them from making expensive mistakes.

:: Clay
Hi Clay,

Consultants can have their place and I can well see how your services can save someone time and money. The advice that Sam and I would give to someone wanting to start a business is:

"Sit down for as long as it takes (a day, a week etc) and visualise every single step of every process in your business. AND WRITE IT ALL DOWN. When you hit a step that you are unclear on, then you know what questions to ask (either of Google, books, or a forum like this)"

As an example: when we were planning our new factory for cocoa processing we asked the questions:

- How will the beans be delivered?
- How will they be unloaded and moved?
- Where will they be stored?
- How will they be picked for processing?
- How will the sacks (if we use sacks) be opened?
- How will the beans be removed from the sacks?

and so on, all the way to finished chocolate.

If you go to this level of detail and can answer all of the questions, then you will have a very solid plan for your manufacturing. If you hit a snag, then you know you need to study, research and learn more.

For my money, this is the best way to prepare yourself to start a business. It doesn't preclude, or require using consulting services, but it means that if you do choose to engage a consultant that you are dealing with them from a more knowledgeable position. That has the advantage that the consultant will be able to be more effective, you will get better value from the consultant (better communication, clearer understanding of your own needs etc).

I really cringe at the idea of hiring expert advice when I don't know enough to be able to tell if the advice that I am getting is good or not. For me, self education and personal responsibility are all important. Then if it goes wrong, you only have yourself to blame.

As an example: we were recently quoted $11,000 by a contractor to lay the concrete slab for a building that we were putting up. We invested some time to understand the required construction process, managed the project ourselves and completed the job for about $5000 instead.

Langdon
Hi Andy

"The best advice I found was to meet more people doing what you are doing and as a collective they become the best consultancy and support network you can have."

Agreed. Self education and building on what others have learned.

Langdon
Hi Annette,
Thank you for asking about the FabJob Guide to Become a Chocolate Shop Owner. The guide is aimed at beginners who are interested in opening a chocolate shop in the United States or Canada. As Clay Gordon indicated in his post, a book can't answer all the questions, but it can be place to start. In this case it can save someone a tremendous amount of time researching where to begin. The guide is over 250 pages and was written by Barbara Lightner, a skilled researcher and writer who was a fact checker for World Book Encyclopedia. She interviewed successful chocolate shop owners and presents information in a step-by-step manner with lots of great resources for learning more (of course she included The Chocolate Life). I would be happy to send you a complimentary copy of the guide so you can see for yourself what a fabulous resource it is. You can send me a message through our website at www.FabJob.com/contact.asp
Thanks again,
Lisa Hamilton
http://www.FabJob.com
Hi Linda,

I will send you that message and will be happy to review it here.

Thank you for being on this website. You are very appreciated!

Annette
I really like the ""Fab Guide to Become a Chocolate shop Owner". It covers everything that you can think of, and the information was excellent! I would recommend this to someone who is opening their own Chocolate Shop. It does not cover the manufacturing of chocolate. I have suggested this to my two other lists as a good Christmas present. It is downloaded and you don't have to wait for it in the mail! I really am impressed with this!
Thanks for raising this as a question and checking out this ebook. When I originally saw the website after a google search, some aspects of the website led me to believe that it was a website programmed to use the terms I had used in my google search, in other words that it would be rather generic. Since I am not interested in the manufacture of chocolate, but in opening a store, it may be applicable. Did you find it current? Reflective of recent (2007-2008) trends or concerns? Thanks for any additional information.

Kate
Addendum...it's not that I'm not interested in the manufacture of chocolate (in fact, I'm keenly interested in the whole process), I just don't intend to manufacture my own chocolate.

Kate

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