The Chocolate Life

Discover Chocolate and Live La Vida Cocoa!

Brownie Shotz, adventures in starting a chocolate business, con't.

Thanks guys for reading and commenting on my posts. It means a lot to me.

I heard this morning on the news that the US lost another 80,000 jobs in March. That’s added to the 50,000 lost in February. Wow! That’s a lot of jobs. So now it’s more important than ever to start a new business. Any business is good. The food business is good but tricky. But if you hit a winning formula, you have a block buster. It seems you might have a bit of an edge if you have a chocolate business. I’ve discovered that a lot of people are passionate about chocolate. (I always knew that but it’s recently been driven home from our interaction with the chocoholics of the country.)

I attended the Beer and Wine Festival here in Portland last week looking for a great Stout for my Chip and Ale Brownie Shotz. (Currently Rogue Chocolate Stout is the leader, but if you have other suggestions, let me know. I’ll send you free samples.) Lo and behold, I found a chocolate company right in the middle of the whole thing. Very nice lady. She has collected many unique and exclusive chocolates and has tastings and pairings. The site is at http://www.tastechocolate.net. I like to promote other businesses as much as I can right now. Another product that’s really good is at http://www.somethingsweeeet.com. Actually, they have lots of products including brownies. You might think it odd that I would promote another company that has a similar product. But I don’t see anyone as competition. If you consider that there are more than three hundred million people in this country alone and I would say at least half of them eat some sort of dessert at some point during the month (probably chocolate), that creates a huge customer base. There’s room for everyone.

A couple of comments I would make about Gwen’s post. I think a lot of people who start businesses think, “I’ll start a chocolate business because I like to make chocolates” or “I’ll start a car repair business because I like to repair cars”. I think you should start a business to start a business, no matter what service or product it creates. There are a lot of similarities between businesses, any businesses. Starting a business should be about starting the business, not what it does. The less you can do in your business, the better it will succeed. Business is about setting up a series of systems that work together to produce something, (goods or services, doesn’t matter). It’s about working ON your business, not IN your business. (If you just want to make chocolates, work for Godiva or Sees or any of the dozens of other chocolate makers. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.) Because of that, you can find lots of support. A couple of agencies that are available to everyone are the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Both of these offer business classes and seminars in starting and developing a business. But more importantly (at least for me) they helped in expanding my network. Also, look at joining the Chamber of Commerce in your town. Here it’s called the Portland Business Alliance. Again, it’s about mixing it up with people.

As far as someone stealing your idea, I think sometimes that’s an excuse to not get your business going. Ideas are one thing, a full blown business is another. One can come to you in the middle of the night in a flash, the other takes months and even years of concerted effort and generally great expense to achieve. That’s what makes an idea valuable. Even having a finished prototype is no guarantee of having a successful business no matter how much time and money you put into it. Of course you have to have a great product (or service) but that’s about the system of quality control. So when you start your business, think in terms of integrated systems. Design your business so it is self sustaining and needs as little input from you as possible. Then when you have that one up and running, start another. Start as many as you can. We have at least 130,000 jobs to fill!

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Tags: brownie, chocolate, stout

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Comment by Emoke (Emi) Sprinkle on September 24, 2009 at 5:31pm
Thank you so much for sharing. You story is inspiring. Any more updates?
Comment by chocolateschool on April 4, 2008 at 10:55pm
another excellent post =)

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