The Rule of Three: Realistic Expectations from a Food Entrepreneur

As many of my long-time readers know, the process of starting Little City Kitchen Co. (and I imagine any new business) has been the roller coaster ride of my life.  One week I’m on the top of the world filled with boundless excitement and momentum…and then there’s the inevitable valley where I take what feels like a zillion steps backwards.

Two things have helped me somewhat adjust to this pattern, the first being repetition.  The up-and-down game has occurred 50+ times so far, so it’s a little less shocking to the system now.

The second is a perspective I’ve come to refer to as the “Rule of Three”.

Everything will take me three times as long (and cost three times as much) as I originally expect.

For example: I thought it would take three months to get baby food to market; it took me nine.  Six weeks for a small business loan; yeah, try four months and counting.  Product liability insurance premiums, okay, let’s not even go there…

The good news is that I now have a more realistic estimate of time and expense, not to mention that I start projects much earlier now!  This way there are fewer surprises along the way, and even the occasional “Yippee!” when things take less time to accomplish than I expect.

Kickoff Day in Alameda

I promised to be honest with you guys, so while I wish I could report that Little City Kitchen Co’s first day at the Alameda farmers market was excellent, that was not entirely the case.  I’m not sure whether my expectations weren’t realistic (because of how well the Burlingame market has been going), or if it’s not the right place for me…it’s a little too soon to tell.

Even though the sales were weak, the interest was definitely there, so hopefully I can gain some momentum over the coming weeks.  Figure I’ll give it a good 6-8 weeks and see what’s what after that.  I’m still really enthusiastic about the market and the charming Alameda area.  The peeps were fantastic, I just wish there were a few more of them!

The Scoop on Starting Solids

Excited about two baby food demo events I have this week: one on Saturday morning at Monkey Bars in Alameda, and one on Tuesday night in partnership with GetzWell Pediatrics.  It’s going to be a beautiful weekend, so come out to the Spring Festival in Alameda and join me!

Cooking up the Goodies

This has been a fun week in the kitchen.  As most of my farmers market customers know, the flavors rotate every week depending on what’s in season (and what I feel like cooking).  This week I’m working on an Ethiopian spiced red lentil dish called W’at, and my baby version of Broccoli “Au Gratin” with some roasted cauliflower and a hint of parmesan and cheddar cheese.

Hope to see you at one of the farmers markets or at the baby food demo events!


7 Comments to “The Rule of Three: Realistic Expectations from a Food Entrepreneur”

  1. Alexis says:

    Hang in there Jill. You are in what we life coaches call The Hero’s Saga. The mantra is “This is taking way longer than I thought and it’s way harder than I thought”. The reality is it’s a normal part of the cycle of change and adventure, so smile you are right where you are supposed to be.
    Enjoy the coming events!

  2. Kathryn says:

    Hey Jill!
    I love your “rule of three.”. I relate to that pretty well and I think that’s great shorthand advice for any new business owner.
    I get inspired reading when you talk about food… It must be so much fun to explore new foods/recipes and share that with others at classes and demos.

  3. Torie says:

    I’m in the same boat. Victories, challenges, disappointments excitement, and failure after failure. I have two mantras, one is same as Alexis, “This is harder than I thought it was going to be and that’s okay” and my other one is, “This is the good part”. This always makes me laugh but I can see how I will look back on this time with fond memories, once things are going my way.

    BTW, Martinez is opening up a new famers market that sounds like a good one with live music and all.

  4. Holly says:

    You are making great strides! I just am amazed at how far you have come and how much you have learned since you started! I hope you take the time to celebrate accomplishments large and small!

  5. Lisa says:

    The new recipes sound really interesting and not surprisingly creative, coming from you. I’ll be interested in hearing how they are received in your next blog. Thanks for sharing everything, both the ups and downs. FYI: that’s typical of life and business…and relationships! Love you, Mom

  6. Emily says:

    I’m adopting you Rule of Three! It totally applies to all facets of life with a 6-week-old!

  7. [...] around two years, depending on the business, and 3) some cushion money for emergencies.  Use the Rule of Three; it takes three times as long, and costs three times as much than you originally [...]

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