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Cooking Up Success

Do you consider yourself a foodie? Are you passionate about all things food- and cooking-related? If the answer is yes, consider starting your business in one of the following ways: 

1. Link up with Tastefully Simple and become a rep for their products. The bonus? You can throw parties for your friends featuring food tastings of new and original products. Find out more about this program from Jill Blashack Strahan, the founder of Tastefully Simple.

2. Start a catering business: This is an easy way to bring a service to the table with low overhead and upfront costs. 

3. Buy a franchise for Dream Dinners, a service that allows families to prepare and store dinners in advance. Find out more from company founder Stephanie Allen.

4. Check out Chef's Line, a hotline that that provides cooking advice and tips to callers around the country. Consider joining the Chef's Line team as one of their chefs. 

5. Start with one product, such as your best cookie or sauce recipe. Attend bake sales and try selling to your friends to gauge their response. Then, enter a cook-off for your favorite food and see how you fare! 

6. Start a website or social network around a specific type of food that you love, and create community and connectivity around it. You can do this at very little cost by purchasing a unique domain name, putting up a very simple website, and using open-source social networks like Ning to launch an instant online social network. 

7. Become a personal home chef. Home cooking services are no longer just for the elite! Many households are looking to outsource their food and cooking needs to others who can help, and home chefs are a popular choice. Offer your services at reasonable prices and you will be high in demand. Be concise with menu options, and to conserve energy and time, offer a limited menu with a diverse array of choices. This way, you can more easily scale your services and even teach others to work under you and help you. 

The most important advice I can give to women starting businesses is to take small steps every day toward their dreams. Surround yourself with like-minded women and put yourself in environments that revolve around your passion. When you take these initiatives, the energy is contagious and you are more likely to be successful. Remember, passion and enthusiasm breed success, so enter as many contests as you can, take home videos, and get exposure by putting it on YouTube. Be creative. Be original. 

To save on costs and to be able to test plans as you move forward, consider starting a service-related business around food first, and use the proceeds from your service business to slowly help you finance your product idea. For example, if you have an idea for a kitchen gadget you would like to create, consider offering and marketing a series of cooking classes first. Create a prototype of the gadget and use your class environment as a focus group to test its appeal. This method not only provides you with seed money to launch your product idea, but also cuts down on your trial and error time by providing you with an instant vehicle for feedback. 

When launching any new venture, bootstrapping and thinking "out of the box" will be the keys to your success -- at least in the beginning! 

Text by Victoria Colligan, founder of Ladies Who Launch