“Say yes. Whatever it is, say yes with your whole heart & simple as it sounds, that’s all the excuse Life needs to grab you by the hands & start to dance.” -Brian Andreas, storypeople.com
A year and a half ago, I said “no” to continuing to teach under conditions that I found (find) reprehensible for students and teachers. I left teaching, a profession I loved (still love) and expected to do until I die. After 21 years, it was like being just out of college again. Worse, actually. When I left teaching, I had no idea what I wanted to do, other than the vague notion that I wanted it to be something relating to food.
For the first three months, I threw myself into the garden. Then I threw myself into putting up what I had grown in the garden. (I still twitch a little when I think of all of the tomatoes I canned in October of 2014.) Then winter set in, and I threw myself into sitting at the kitchen table and wondering what the hell I had done.
While there is a lot that’s appealing about not working, it turns out that I function better with a schedule, and the feeling that I’m contributing to my family’s coffers. At least, contributing more than canned tomatoes and blanched, frozen kale. It felt good to grow most of our produce that first year, and again this year. Really good. But it didn’t feel like enough.
During that first autumn, I struggled with what the “food thing” might be. Then one night, friends were here for dinner. One of them said, “Hey! I have an idea! Why don’t you cook for us?” I laughed, then said yes.
The idea for a personal chef business took root in my gray matter that night, and it worried around in there until I began tentatively saying to people, “I’m starting a personal chef business. If you know anyone…”
Lo and behold, people DID know people that might want to use a personal chef, and two friends recommended me to two families that I wound up working with this past summer. Then one of those friends asked if I might want to help her with a large order of the (wonderful) energy bars that she makes, (‘Dak bar plug! If you see them, buy them. They’re great!) and a few months later, she asked if I might want to help with a catered dinner. Yes, and yes again.
All of this saying yes helped me understand what I do and do not want to do as a personal chef. Once I knew that, it was time to start a business.
Gulp! Me, start a business? I don’t have a business degree, or management experience, or any of a million other excuses that I used to slow myself down. What did I know about starting a business? Not much, but neighbors and friends did, so I asked a million questions.
Which brings us here.
I’ve started a business: My Garden, Your Table: A Personal Chef Service. It’s official. I have a Certificate of Authority that says I can collect sales tax for the State of New York (lucky me). I have business insurance. I have a business certificate from the county. I have business cards. And because I am still addicted to school supplies, I have pens with my business name and number on them.
I have a family that did a two week trial run of my services, and just tonight, committed to six months of me cooking for them–once a week, a meal to eat the day I make it, and another for later in the week. They said they have two other families that are also interested in the service.
Holy shit. I started a business.
It all started with, “Yes.”