The Chocolate Life

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Startup Central

Are you looking to start a chocolate business? Want to talk to others who've been there or done that - or have you been there and done it and want to share with others? This is the place to discuss it.

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Startup Central

Do you make great chocolates? Know everything there is to know about tempering chocolate and cooking the perfect caramel? Able to turn out thousands of finished chocolates without blinking any eye?

Does the thought of using Quickbooks or writing a business plan sends you screaming into the walk-in begging for mercy?

This group is for you. When you join, please introduce yourself to the group in a comment on this page. Yes, I know you have a profile page, but it would be great to have you add a few words about you and your business in the context of this group. If you have a website, feel free to post a link to it. Please don't post a link to your profile page, people can just click on your profile photo to visit that.

PS. Below is the full picture I used for the Group photo. It's a chocolate store/cafe in Mexico. Those are stone mills (the kind Taza uses) to the right of the guy with his back to you in the blue shirt and notice that they are selling beans. The stone mills suggest that this store is located in Oaxaca.

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Comment by xinhong liu on January 5, 2010 at 9:26am
With your inspiration I have decided to bring my business from 'underground' to 'above-ground'. As I'm a only new starter and sold very few boxes I guess there are lots I could learn from you. Please share your experience with others.

Comment by Annick Vliegen on January 5, 2010 at 9:04am
Congratz, from me in Belgium I hope it will go well, i'll keep my fingers crossed for you! Keep up the good work
Comment by Kathleen Vreeken on January 5, 2010 at 7:57am
Greetings to everyone. I am FINALLY taking the plunge and planning to take my "underground" candy business into the mainstream economy. Right now I'm hoping that the millions of details needed to get this venture "of the ground" will not take away the pleasure of working with the chocolate and will not turn it into drudgery. Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to getting to know you all.
Comment by Annick Vliegen on December 29, 2009 at 4:19am
Good luck Brad in the choses you will make along the way
Comment by Brad Reardon on December 28, 2009 at 5:22pm
Hello. Fellow new comer here. I have been playing with chocolate for years. Just now actually doing something useful with it. My chocolate escapades were enough that my girlfriend's family offered to buy what they hadn't finished at our Christmas party. I'd say it's a good start, but a start alone as I'm sure we all know, gets us nowhere.

I am looking at starting a confectionary with someone else doing the baking. I am currently planning for two lines of chocolates. One being the mass produced, here are all the cool machines and toys I can use. The other being all hand made.

I am still probably two years out from actually starting full scale, but for now I am a startup, that has too many hobbies to focus on running my own business. Also I am an odd duck that I don't care to actually make the chocolate. There are enough different varieties out there, that I chose to make something unique out of the chocolate, rather than trying to make a unique chocolate. That may change, but hey I'm 27 and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

Thanks in advance for the help I'm sure I will get from you, knowingly or otherwise. :)
Comment by Dirke Botsford on December 26, 2009 at 10:52pm
Thanks Karen & Annick. I have learned the hard way when I didn't follow my gut, thus the reason I am pursuing this new venture and getting out of the high tech world. The passion is there, the hours comes with the territory of running the show, even in the print (graphics) industry which I am currently in, it can be long hours. I really want to start small and hone my skills and find the exact direction that will work for me and a business. I guess in the beginning it looks daunting at what needs to be done, I will just have to figure it out as I go as you said. Fingers crossed....
Comment by The'a on December 26, 2009 at 10:06pm
hello, I'm Aulia, still new also in this friendly circumstances. love to read all post, at least I've gotten new information also advice from the members. this is my second years running on a small cookies and chocolate business, it's too small I think, because with this two hard years experience I still running it by offering personally or "mouth to mouth". on the last month of this year, I'm trying to promote it wider on fb. but the common problem is with the price, I still confuse to state the price actually, I do really want to state it the same with the market, but doubt that people wanna take mind coz it still new, and they don't know how does it taste. so, I decided at a month ago to make it lower than the market, even if I knew that I got lower profit. the consequence, it's hard for me to manage the capital back. which is the price of several ingredients goes up, specially towards new year event. and when I wanna set up the price higher, I always think that I still have a small customer now and afraid they would run to another store^_^. I do really need a help, would you mind giving advice, thank you^_^.
Comment by Annick Vliegen on December 26, 2009 at 9:57am
Hello Dirk, I can only agree with Karin, you must follow your guts and do what your heart tells you and it will be ok!
We had a what you can call a fancy french food restaurant for 20 years and we have always done everything ourself and follow the same road. We had to close down 2 years ago due to the economic crisis in Belgium. But i still have no regrets.We had to work hard but we where happy.
Comment by Karen Neugebauer on December 25, 2009 at 1:13am
Dirke, Yes and no. Owning your own business is so hard for lots of people because it takes 2 equally important things to succeed: Passion and the willingness to become Jack of all trades (otherwise known as drive). Most people have the passion, but are not willing to work the 18 hour days and often due EVERYTHING themselves when needed. Others have all the business knowhow, but don't have the passion needed to get you on top of the many mountains you need to climb.

The best advice that I can give you is get used to admitting that you don't know something and then learn the parts that your business needs now, then move on. Learn to embrace the mistakes and study them until you can APPLY what you learned to future tasks. Starting the business is when you want to make lots of mistakes so that you still have the freedom to change. The larger, more established your business becomes, the more costly mistakes will be. Also, ask all of your "stupid" questions (because there are often the most important to be clear on and are never stupid), learn from experts in your field and from your customers and competitors, but DON'T change the core of what makes you and your product yours. Know what this is from the start and wright it done (one short sentence is best) so you can refer to it when you start trying to change too much.

As far as the mountain of regulations for food production, it turns out that it is more or less common sense, just spelled out in lots, and lots of words. You will make it through and find that it is a lot of repetition and forms to fill out.

Bye the way, I would like to say that it gets easier as you grow, but it does not. Only the roles you play change. I like to joke that every time I solve one problem, I create at least 2 more issues that I have to deal with :-D It is all part of the fun of owing your own company. My passion for chocolate is why I keep showing up in the morning and go to bed most nights bone tired, but with a smile....
Comment by Dirke Botsford on December 24, 2009 at 8:09pm
Business hurtles, one after another. As I write my business plan and investigate further the data required to do it right, the stats and loopholes you have to go through is killing me and I haven't even committed to anything and have only just begun. Is this how it is in business, not ever owning one? or is it just the initial stages?

I understand the health implications if not done correctly but man is there a lot of permits and licenses you need. this may just be where I live? any insight from those that have gone through this?

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