Whoop(s)ie! This blog needs a new name!

My quest to start a whoopie pie stand of my very own in a Chicago farmers market.

Score! (free mentoring for small businesses and entrepreneurs)

Tuesday night had me dragging my boyfriend along to an hour-long meeting with a small business mentor.  How did I score this appointment (teehee…get ready, that’ll be the first pun of many)?  All I had to do was request the time online and the best part is…it was free!

Score Chicago is a totally nutso, how-is-this-real kind of service for small businesses and entrepreneurs.  They offer both face-to-face and e-mail mentoring with business experts (experts that have experience in the area you need – score!), workshops, templates, and the kinds of tools that silly people who want to start their own business need.

My mentor was awesome – when I requested the appointment, I wrote a little blurb about what I wanted to do, what I thought I would need help with, and listed the blog address.  She was totally on top of everything. Not only had she visited the blog, she even e-mailed me a useful pdf of Illinois’ Sanitation Guidelines for Farmers’ Markets (and can I just say how awesome it was to get a female business mentor?  Score, indeed).  Then she e-mailed me with a branding idea she had (and it’s a really good idea) today!  You can’t pay for this kind of service!

Some things I’ll need to think about:

  1. Branding: how are my macarons going to be different than the rest of Chicago’s macarons?  I know the answer to this, now I just need to figure out how to make it into a clever brand.  T-shirts?  Logo?  Business cards or flyers?  Silly berets and mustaches?  Yes, please.
  2. Incorporating/Insurance: people incorporate in order to protect their personal assets from suits on their business (see how smart I am now?).  But it costs $200ish just to file for incorporation and then there’s an annual fee to keep it up.  If the insurance I’m required to have in order to work in a community kitchen covers the I-got-sick-from-your-macarons-and-now-I’m-suing-you situation, then I won’t have to incorporate.
  3. Riddle me this!  How many macarons can I make in 3 hours at a community kitchen?  In 4 hours?
  4. How often will I need to make them?  Bi-weekly?  Monthly? Twice during the whole summer?  They keep well in the freezer…the less I need to use the kitchen, the more money I save, the less each macaron costs.
  5. Base cost: includes cost of ingredients (which I’ll hopefully be able to get a good deal on by using a bulk purchaser through a community kitchen) + cost of time in community kitchen + cost of renting cooler and/or freezer space at community kitchen
  6. Other costs: renting space in a farmers’ market + cost of a food sanitation certificate + any other required certificate + packaging

Say I sell each macaron for $2, and the base cost on each is $1, then if I were able to sell 60 macarons each Saturday for 10 Saturdays over the summer, I would make enough to cover my base cost and $600 to cover all of the other costs.  This makes sense, right?  Sure…well, you didn’t expect me to come out of that 1-hour meeting an MBA, did you?

I’m thinking very seriously about being completely honest about all of my costs.  Total transparency.  Because when I buy a muffin at a farmers market I rarely think of the cost of the ingredients in the final product, the cost of the ingredients when testing recipes, whether or not the stand is incorporated, how much the time spent in the kitchen cost the baker, how much renting cooler space cost, or how much they’re paying to rent their booth.  I maybe think about packaging, but only if it’s really cute.  Usually I just think, “this $4 muffin better be damn good.”  Yet those things are all important and all contribute to the cost!  And why not disclose them?  I don’t expect to make any profit really.

Any naysayers?

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2 comments on “Score! (free mentoring for small businesses and entrepreneurs)

  1. Joy Becker
    October 13, 2011

    Another good blog! I think a macaroon as the face with a barre’ & mustache.
    I’m sorry if the spelling is incorrect couldn’t find spell check!!!

  2. Pingback: Kitchen Chicago & Williams Sonoma Artisan Market « macmaker

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This entry was posted on October 13, 2011 by in Farmers markets and tagged , , , .

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