This is the third part of our 5 part series on the Roadmap to Becoming a Personal Chef. Make sure to get your special free bonus at the end of the article!
Jodie Foster said this in an interview, when she was asked to talk about how she approaches directing. When you think about it, this concept of great design coming from truth also applies to personal chefs as they start to design their companies.
In our last article, we talked about creating a vision for your business with a compelling brand and a strong sense of who your target clients are. Now, the next step is to come up with a great design for your business. No small feat, but if you remain true to your vision and have a nice little roadmap, it will all come together.
So where do we start? Let's focus on three main areas:
- Your business infrastructure
- You services and pricing
- Your website
There are many other details to starting your business (and we cover them in our foundational course, Becoming a Personal Chef), but these three areas are the most challenging.
So let's get started.
Structuring your Business
Yes, I'm starting off with infrastructure. It's not glamorous. Chances are you don't get excited about installing new plumbing in your house. But you do it anyway for peace of mind. Just like building a house, your business needs a strong foundation to grow on.
So one of your first decisions is how to structure your business.
Choosing a Legal Entity
You can choose from many types of legal entities. If you are in the US then you have several choices (most straightforward to complex):
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited Liability Corporation
Your choice depends on how much risk you're willing to take on. A sole proprietorship offers you no protection from someone suing you, but it's by far the most popular because it's easy to setup. We go through each option in our foundational course, but ultimately this is a good question for your lawyer (in the course, we give you some useful tips and a workbook on how to find a lawyer and an accountant for your business).
Getting Insurance, Licenses, and Taxes
You will also need to get insurance and a business license. I won't spend anymore time on this part except to say that you NEED insurance. Without insurance, you are just one accident away from losing your business and your family's life savings. Don't risk it.
You'll also need to work with your accountant regarding your taxes. Now that you own your own business, you'll need to make quarterly estimated tax payments and file your annual tax returns. Finding a good accountant is not too difficult. Reach out to friends and family for a referral. If you're still having trouble, then check out our foundational course where we include an approach with worksheets to help you with your search.
Choosing a Name and Logo
You can spend a lot of time here, but I suggest putting a reasonable time limit on choosing your name, like 2 weeks. Keep in mind that many personal chefs just use “Chef” plus their first name as their business (e.g. Chef Bonnie). If that doesn’t ring true for you, then start to brainstorm and see what you come up with. Don't get too fancy. Remember that your name should work with your brand and target client groups.
You will need to get a domain name for your website that closely matches your name. If at all possible, use the “.com” top-level domain name. Otherwise, you'll spend a lot of your time reminding EVERYONE that your URL is ".com" and not ".net" or ".food."
The same applies to your logo. Give yourself 2 weeks to finalize it. In our course, Becoming a Personal Chef, we talk about how to approach developing your logo. To save you time and stress, consider finding someone to help with your logo design. There are plenty of online resources to help you and for less money than you think.
We have a lot more to cover, so let's switch gears and look at your services and pricing.
Services and Pricing
Keep it simple and don't price yourself low.
That's really all you need to know...
Choosing Your Services
When you're first starting out, it's tempting to say that you do everything - parties, weekly meal service, cooking lessons, meal planning, the list goes on and on. Instead, try to focus on one or two services and do them really well. Rest assured, you will still get inquiries for the other services you don't list.
How to go About Pricing
Probably the most common mistake you can make launching your business is to price your services too low. It's completely understandable, you are just starting out, and you can't imagine people paying that much for your service. So you go ahead and price yourself below market rate hoping to attract potential clients.
Unfortunately, your potential clients will see your pricing and wonder why you are so cheap. Price yourself at market rates or above and immediately your potential clients will assume that you're offering a quality service. You just need to OWN IT.
Creating an Amazing Website
Your number one marketing tool is your website. Most often, your site is the first thing your client looks at before deciding to contact you.
So let's start off by just acknowledging that your website is for your clients and not for you.
Your clients come to your site with a purpose. They have a challenge, and they're hoping that you can help. In the last article, we zeroed in on who your Target Client Groups are. What challenges are they facing? How can you connect with them in an emotional way?
Once you embrace the idea that your site exists to help your clients, you can begin to architect HOW.
Choosing a Hosting Platform
You have many choices for how to host your website. Wordpress and a Fully Hosted Solution like Squarespace are two great options. We talk about the differences of each platform in our course, Becoming a Personal Chef.
Similarly, you will need to use a company like Register.com to get your domain name for your business. You'll need to get an email address using a free service like Google Gmail or pay for an email under your domain name using a service like Google Apps. Some hosting providers will also offer free email so there are many choices.
Content Before Colors
Before you start playing with the design of your site, you should spend time coming up with your content. Although your website design is important, you really have nothing to work with if you haven’t developed your content first.
You need to think about your:
- Home Page
- About Us
- Menu Highlights
Writing for the web is a much different than what you were taught in school. Visitors prefer to scan your site which means that you have to hit them with your important message first, and then use headings, bullets, and imagery to help them find what they need.
Let your home page acknowledge your potential client's challenge. Then, have your services, pricing, and menu highlights show your visitors that you can help. Your "About Us" page should let them get to know you as a person; make a connection that you are someone they would feel comfortable inviting into their home. Lastly, your story should conclude by driving them to your "Contact Us" page where they can reach you by a contact form or contact you directly on your cell.
Don’t forget to sprinkle a few testimonials (from your trial cook dates) throughout the site to provide “social proof” of your excellent service.
Lastly, you'll need to develop your blog. So many people resist starting a blog, but your blog does two incredibly important things for you. It helps improve your Google search rankings, and you can demonstrate to your clients that you're in demand and excellent at what you do.
Regardless, if you hire someone to build your site for you, you will need to come up with your content. If getting your content together sounds a little overwhelming, don't worry. Our course, Becoming a Personal Chef, helps break the process down into manageable chunks using workbooks with examples.
Choosing a Design for your Site
Find a template that looks like it requires the least amount of customization to add your content. Also, look for themes that are popular because they tend to be better maintained over time.
Here are a few tips when setting up your site:
- Break your text up with heading, bullets, images, and generous amounts of white space. Visitors like to scan your page for information. They get easily overwhelmed and distracted when they see large amounts of text.
- Have a strong "call to action" on every page. Your “call to action” is what you want your visitor to do. For your site, you'll want your visitor to contact you, so feature a “Contact Us” link in your main menu. Also include a “Contact Us” button or link where appropriate on your pages.
- Theme templates sometimes require finessing to get them to look just the way you want. Sometimes you have to do things counter-intuitive depending on the template author’s design. Save yourself some time and frustration by reading the documentation before you start.
- Lastly, keep it simple! Remember, you are creating your site to help your visitor overcome a challenge. You only need to include enough content to get them to contact you. It’s very tempting to add a lot of detail about you or your service. Instead, spend that time creating blog posts!
Setting up your business is an iterative process. It’s never going to be perfect. Just make sure it looks professional before you launch. Get a friend to take a look at it and make sure that everything is spelled correctly and that there are no blatant grammatical errors.
There are many details to address while you are designing your business. Check out our FREE Roadmap Checklist below. Also, if you're interested in learning more, we are launching our foundational course, Becoming a Personal Chef, very soon. There is a signup form on the course page if you're interested in participating in our initial beta launch (at a 50% discount!).
Links to the other parts in the series:
- Part I: Introduction - The Roadmap for Becoming a Personal Chef
- Part II: Vision - What Does Success Look Like to You?
- Part IV: Launch - Landing your First Client Fast (coming soon)
- Part V: Operate - Make it Easier on Yourself with Solid Business Practices (coming soon)
Interested in learning more?
Get your free Personal Chef Roadmap Checklist with a quick rundown of each of the major tasks to launch your personal chef business.