I was having a chat in the
corridor at work the other day with a colleague.
Let us call him Bob for poetic licence, it works well as a name for a barbecue business don't you think?
Bob was telling me how fed up he was at work.
I was thrilled to hear this, I am always listening for this conversation, to help people, break out from their corporate cage.
I casually asked, what it was he wanted to do.
He said, "well I don’t really know but I know I don’t want to carry on doing what I am doing, I think I might like to work for myself."
I probed him a little more, and asked him about his hobbies, none of which seemed to inspire him enough to turn into any kind of paid work.
He liked doing them but he didn’t really light up when he spoke about them.
As we came to the end of our brief chat, I was heading back to my desk when he said, “you know the thing I really enjoy best of all is barbecuing, but it’s January now so not much call for it really is there?
You can’t do it all year round to sustain a family and a mortgage and I certainly don’t have the money to open a restaurant so I have given up on that idea.
Which is a shame because I love doing it.”
Given up? “No don’t do that I tell him. You are thinking about this all wrong.
You are thinking too big and you need to go small”
This is the point my brain goes into overdrive because all the way through this conversation my mind has been firing off in all directions.
I can think of at least 4 ways off the top of my head he could make money from this,
All by starting small as a side project alongside his day job and without opening a restaurant.
Start it off as a summer business just for the weekends, you can prep over the winter.
Become a mobile barbecue chef and take your kit in a trailer to people’s houses and spend time cooking, doing what you love for money.
People love to have a barbecue but not everyone can do it successfully.
Create a simple menu to begin with, one you could cook easily, say 2 or 3 courses, one or two big salads and some dips and bread.
Factor in some nice vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options and you will have covered many dietary options.
Cost in disposable plates, cutlery, napkins and big black sacks for the rubbish at the end that you will take away.
If the menu is simple, and food you have cooked often, you will feel confident to do it for others, not nervous.
Send out flyers to the more well-heeled area of your city and offer your catering services as parties for children or adults or both.
Not everyone wants the hassle of having to create food from scratch themselves but they do want to entertain their friends or impress other parents.
Set a reasonable price, ask for a non-refundable deposit up front and away you go.
This method allows you to test the market for interest at very little cost to you.
If it goes well you can start branching out to Facebook and other social media marketing methods, and word of mouth could really help you along.
If mums like you and the parties are a success you can be sure their friends will want to follow the trend, and have their own parties too.
The object though, is to get going and see if it will fly
Offer barbecue lessons on Saturday mornings to men who would love to be able to barbecue for their family but can’t.
If suitable they could come to you in your back garden, or you could go to them.
You could show them how to cook the basics like sausages and burgers and pieces of chicken so they are competent to manage at home.
You could show them how to cook on coals and/or a gas bbq
You could offer gift vouchers so partners could purchase the lessons as presents for Christmas or birthdays and so on.
And don’t forget women.
You could offer similar lessons to ladies how to do it too.
I have a female family member who is a fantastic cook with a barbecue in her garden during the summer, her partner won’t go near it at all, he leaves it all to her.
And the kids love the fact that mum does the summer cooking outdoors.
Write down your best recipes, have the finished dishes photographed and create your own cookbook and sell it.
You can start selling to friends and family and colleagues and then build up sales by marketing as your confidence grows.
Get a nice little website going and you could market your product to the world.
You could niche your book into a series, barbecue for vegetarians, vegans, gluten free, children, weight watchers, or themed menus for weddings, birthdays, children’s parties.
How about themed international food ideas such as Greek, Indian or Turkish?
All cultures with strong barbecued food methods in their national cooking.
You could go on and on slicing and dicing your theme here.
If you are passionate about it, you won't run out of ideas for quite a while.
Rather like the Saturday morning teaching option, if you are confident being filmed you could teach your technique online.
You can start with a smart phone, create a YouTube channel and build your media empire, all for free to begin with.
You keep adding content as you go and build up a following over time.
Perhaps adding that recipe book we mentioned above.
Apart from cooking techniques and recipes, you could demonstrate using all the different types of bbq available, you could show how the tools work, what is the best fuel to use and the necessary health and safety issues people need to be aware of.
Over time you could end up selling your own sauces and equipment and maybe even merchandise like t-shirts or aprons.
Over time your business could evolve with all of the above but you just need to start with one thing and see how it goes.
You might want to develop different income streams for different times of the year.
Begin as a small project idea to see how it works out
How do I know this idea could work?
Well,the acid test for a business idea is does it solve a problem.
If you can solve a problem, people will pay for it.
Catering is big business and a massive problem solver for a lot of busy people.
More and more people are time pressed and want others to do the work for them.
That someone could be you.
Back to Bob…
He was amazed because he had never thought of looking for ideas in this way.
He automatically assumed because he was interested in a food idea it had to be a restaurant or at least a food truck.
Neither option appealed to him on several levels, the expense being the main one.
Take what you love and create something by offering it in a way that fits in with your strengths.
And this is how BBQ Bobs brilliant breakthrough came about.
I left him whistling down the corridor with a smile on his face and his brain going into overdrive.
He realised perhaps his idea wasn’t crazy in January after all.