Small Business: Taking the plunge - Cool Food

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Cool Food's Simon and Amy Hope. Photo / Supplied
Cool Food's Simon and Amy Hope. Photo / Supplied

Simon and Amy Hope talk to Gill South about taking the plunge with the Cool Food catering business and The Cool Food cafe in Auckland's Mt Eden.

Amy:

Simon and I would cater events for friends and family off and on through our
working career. Simon would prepare the food from our home kitchen and I would be the
waitress and kept an eye on little details.

Simon worked as a chef at Vinnies under Geoff Scott, and White Tie Catering under Tina Duncan, I did fashion buying, designing and styling at Ezibuy then at Paula Ryan.

Taking the plunge

Simon left his job as a chef and started Simon's Kitchen which offered diverse catering options.

After a year I decided to leave my job at Paula Ryan to grow and build the business. We decided to narrow the focus and offerings. We liked the idea of freshly prepared food delivered to your office/home/cafe in a cooling bin.

This is when we changed the name to "COOL FOOD" We have a corporate following delivering daily fresh made sandwiches, salads, pies, and gluten free slices though the choca block brownie is the favourite.

When we left our jobs the business was very small but we believed in its future. We had small group of customers that we looked after and we still have their support today. We did a very basic break even analysis and modest cash flow forecast before we made the plunge. We kept our overheads low and grew the business slowly and dumped the ideas that didn't work.

We would plan at night together and think of new ways to get customers. An idea we thought of that we still use today was personally delivering cool food sample boxes to corporate offices with our menu and talking and listening to the customers.

Worth the risk

We have no regrets - the journey and progress is rewarding. We like directing our own project and working together. We have learned to start small and have a slow approach, our risks of going down the wrong path and spending development time and money on offerings that fail, were minimal.

It is a slower process however our business foundation is strong and we have gathered market research on the way. We learned what our customers want and we could build it into our offering.

Catering is the backbone to Cool Food and Cool Food Café is our (shop)front to the public where people can visit us and see what Cool Food is all about.

Tips

Listen and look. Act on what your customers want from you, not what you think the customers want.

Keep fresh/creative in your way of thinking and approach.

Also you need passion and high energy to start up a business we have to get up early, work late. It takes a lot of yourself.

Oh and enjoy the rollercoaster ride!

Some couples would never set up businesses together for fear of the pressure it would put on their marriage or personal relationship. But every day business entrepreneurs are doing it and surviving. Tell us your secrets of staying together while going through the daily pressures of running your own business. Email me, Gill South at the link below:

- NZ Herald

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