I'm working on starting up a business on the side of my full-time job. I was wondering if anyone had advice for starting up while still keeping your full time job? I'm doing a Kickstarter right now to fund getting some equipment and time in a commercial kitchen (it's doing quite well so far, and I'm hopeful I will reach my goal). Once it's successful though I'll be working and making chocolates. Any suggestions would be helpful! Like what to outsource? Things to get help with and what to look for in potential helpers? Any tips for streamlining the process of doing everything by hand? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
What does commercial kitchen time run you? Are you able to store your equipment/ supplies at the kitchen?
I have 2 kitchen options right now
1) $15/hr, cost to store things there and it's a 45 minute drive away (each way)
2) $25/hr (also trade like helping them clean the kitchen or make pretzels), no extra charge for storage of things and it's about 5 minutes from my house. This is most likely the kitchen I will go with because of convenience, and I wouldn't be sharing the kitchen hours because they work during the day and I would mainly need it evenings and weekends.
Are you going bean to bar? I would imagine it could rack up some serious time with your melanger if so... I was thinking of doing the same thing a while back!
Not bean to bar (perhaps someday!), I'm planning to order chocolate from MamaGanache, and start the tempering machine while I am making things so that I'm not just sitting around waiting for it to temper!
I ran a business on the side while I worked a full time job, it is doable but it nearly drove me insane. I swore after that business collapsed with the GFC, that if I was ever to run another business it would be an all or nothing thing. I would never run a business on the side ever again, no matter how good the business idea / plan. It always takes up more time that you think and the switching from business to work and back all the time is very draining, there is also no time for anything else in your life. I do have a plan for my next business but it has gone through many itterations and refinements so that the business alone will sustain me and my family without relying on another income. Setting the criteria that it had to be a full time business and sustain me caused me to be innovative and to streamline what I wanted to business to be, which has been very valuable. You never know until you try though, always regret what you did rather than what you didn't do. These are just words of caution from experience. Good luck!
You are lucky to be a stone's throw from the foodie capital of the United States, Kaydee. That offers a great opportunity as well as presenting a ton of competition. You have to ask yourself whether what you want to do offers something unique and/or addresses an [un]expressed customer need that's not currently being addressed by all the others tempering chocolate. What do you bring to the table?
Once you have that niche identified, it is important to figure out your scale. Do you go with the tiny Rev I or II temperers, for example or do you go larger? We found that the Rev's smaller than Delta are not worth the time, not if you don't want to be a slave to the heating cycles. You almost have to go "medium", if not large right away. We opted for ACMC's, but they proved as flaky as everyone here knows. Still, a couple of ACMC's bought on the cheap until you can afford a wheel tempering machine is still something we'd do if we had to do it all over. You do want to plan for success and scale up, but it is important to calculate how you will address the present needs with immediate capacity of what you purchase.
It helps to have clients identified and lined up BEFORE you start. If you can fiddle in the kitchen with a smaller temperer before you go "all-in" and sample potential customers, get them hooked and committed, that goes a long way.
What you do for a full time job matter as well. Are you able to come and go as you please? You will need that, trust me. If you are called to deliver, get a rush online order, realize you've run out of X and the place that offers it closes by the time you're off work... Stuff like that comes up all the time. We found that we need to be able to run around and not be anchored by the full time job, even if there is a partner.
We started what we do now running the business alongside with two full time jobs. It helps to have your significant other involved as much as you are AND have a complimentary skill set that you do not. For example, if you are the chocolate side, your SO optimally is a business/finance/logistics expert. Doing everything alone (I mean the meaningful, important decision stuff, not the day-to-day menial tasks) I honestly cannot see, not while doing my full time job.
I'm planning to get the DELTA or X3210 - Would you recommend one over the other? I was looking at the Hilliard Little Dipper too, but it was going to take longer and I can't tell how much chocolate it can do in one batch, the website says 3-25 pounds per day... whereas the DELTA is 10 pounds in an hour.
It would be great if I had a partner, but my best friend who I originally wanted to start a company with, lives in Brooklyn still. I have a friend who is interested in being a manager (not as into the chocolate making part) but I wouldn't be able to pay her yet, and I haven't known her long enough to feel comfortable handing over business operations. So for now, it's just me. I have plans for starting small and working after normal hours. Luckily my boyfriend is busy with work as well and we have a puppy and no kids which gives more flexibility :)
I was thinking about selling at the farmer's market, do you (or anyone else) have experience with selling at farmer's markets?
Based on my [very limited] knowledge, Hilliard reports ALL of its tempering capacities in #/day, assuming an 8 hour day. That is as misleading as it is outdated, and it tells me a ton about the mindset of the manufacturer. So the Little Dipper never appealed to me as an attractive option.
When we were purchasing ACMC's, I looked at the larger Chocovisions as well. It still seems to me that two ACMC's have roughly the same/slightly larger capacity than Delta or X (10 lbs ea). Refurbished Delta and X on the Chocovision site are $1650 and $1900 + shipping. There are not many great deals on these used out there that we've seen. ACMC used can each be had on eBay in the $300 and $400 range, given a little patience/luck.
We routinely temper over 4 kg of chocolate split between the two machines, and that's about 9kg. The shortcomings of the two 100W light bulbs activated by crappy thermal controller can be easily overcome with a single calibrated digital thermometer.
The few food start ups operating out of our commercial kitchen that make a living through farmer's markets are all desperately looking to expand and get into a more sustained and dependable venue (coops, grocers, own retail space). Add to that that we're in Minnesota, where it was still snowing last May 1st, and you will see that I have very little basis for judging/understanding how that model works here vs how it would work in Oregon.
I would go back to my initial thought: be careful about making a "me too" product. The world is full of chocolate. Make yours differentiable and unique in some way.
btw (by the way), "FWIW" = for what it's worth.
Hahaha, oops :P I don't use many abbreviations!