A guide for women first-timers in the F&B business
It's one thing to impress with exceptional cooking skills, but entirely different to successfully run a business
Most of us are familiar with the story of the brand that was created by a 40-year-old man who faced multiple setbacks and failures before turning his special 'fried chicken' recipe into a multi-million-dollar business. We have heard that the governor of Kentucky designated him as a Kentucky Colonel due to the success of his business. You guessed it: this is the story of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
World over, there are a multitude of F&B businesses that have men at the helm of it. Traditionally, women have been in-charge of kitchens at home. But how many women can you name off the top of your mind who are big names in this industry? Of course, Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson could be your go-to names, but what about women entrepreneurs who run successful F&B businesses?
In an article published by an F&B industry publication, Dana Pellicano of Mariott International in the Americas reveals a sad but true statistic that "fewer than 7 per cent of restaurant owners and executive chefs in the United States are women". The focus is shifting globally, and more women are being encouraged to join the workforce in this sector, but more can be done.
It is one thing to impress a large-sized family and friends with exceptional cooking skills, but an entirely different set of skills have to kick in to start and successfully run a F&B business. Often, we tend to confuse passion for cooking and hosting guests with running a business. According to Statista, market volume of the F&B segment in the Asia-Pacific is expected to be $73.89 billion by 2023. It is therefore no surprise that the F&B industry is one of the favoured businesses for most entrepreneurs. However, statistics also show that more than 90 per cent of startups don't survive more than three years.
Ladies, a key point to remember is that besides your passion to whip up and serve great food, you also should have a strong vision for the business.
Like in all other businesses, it is imperative to start with a business plan. A useful tip from Samrat Reddy, founder and managing director of Drunken Monkey, in the article An Entrepreneur's Guide to Success in F&B Industry, is: "F&B is a huge industry on its own with various segments of products and services coupled with endless mediums of sales. It is important to identify your own niche and make sure the strategy and business plan are aimed at catering to that specific market need".
Often, first-time F&B entrepreneurs have a clear idea about the menu offerings but do not invest time and effort in market research which is the worst thing you can do set up a business. Besides studying the market, it is also useful to understand your own strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur so that gaps can be identified and resolved on a proactive basis.
It is great if you have family and friends who commend your decision to start an F&B business. However, business does not come from within family and friends alone. It is important to think about how to attract customers to your outlet.
Ensure that you factor all the above elements in right at the beginning during the planning stage. Many a times. First-time entrepreneurs rush to start a business with just sufficient funds to open shop without factoring in operational costs for at least two to three years, marketing costs, etc.
Once you start, nothing should deter you from making the business work and that is the difference between an entrepreneur and a successful one.
The writer is founder and CEO of Stars Dome Group and Mall Global. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.
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