By Djenaba Johnson-Jones
Four years ago today, on July 31, 2015, I officially registered Hudson Kitchen with the State of New Jersey and obtained a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). The whole process took about 20 minutes and was the beginning of what has so far been a crazy, wonderful journey. Being an entrepreneur has changed me for the better. It has pushed me far out of my comfort zone, helped me to find my true passion, taught me to celebrate my successes and completely changed my perspective on failure. Here’s three ways that my personal growth has helped move my business forward:
I learned to step out of my comfort zone. In order to get financing for Hudson Kitchen, I had to prove that there was a need for commercial kitchen space in the community. I have a marketing background and during my corporate career, I learned the importance of a good research project. So I created an online survey to ask food business owners questions about kitchen usage, pricing, and equipment needs. To get the word out, I posted about the survey on Facebook and partnered with two local bloggers, Hoboken Girl and ChicpeaJC, who sent out email blasts to their database of food businesses. I also handed out postcards at farmers markets and food festivals and scheduled calls with small business owners to discuss their specific needs. I am an introvert by nature and I had to completely push myself out of my comfort zone. What was once scary turned out to be a reinforcement about why I started the business. Now, I love talking with current and aspiring business owners about their dreams. These discussions are one of the best parts about my entrepreneurial journey because I get to meet interesting people, amplify their stories, and help them grow their businesses.
I found my passion. My original plan was to use my commercial kitchen space for my own meal delivery business and to rent it out to other entrepreneurs when I was not using it. As I did more research and spoke to tons of small business owners, I realized that my passion really lies in providing tools and resources to help others realize their dreams. So I abandoned my initial plans and moved full steam ahead with Hudson Kitchen. I also began to understand that entrepreneurs needed more than just a place to cook and that community and education needed to part of my business model. Out of that realization came our Table Talk Live networking event series, dozens of workshops, and the Food Business Bootcamp where we have served over 220 students to date.
I celebrate my successes (and failures). When I was laid off from my corporate job in October 2014, a co-worker gave me the best advice. She said, “Each week, take the time to write down your successes. That way when you are experiencing a set back, you can reflect on all of the good that is happening in your life.” This practice has served me well. Sometimes as entrepreneurs, we have our heads down working towards our goals and we don’t take a moment to see how far we have come. Writing down my successes has also helped change my perspective on failure. Instead of focusing on what went wrong, I think about what I learned from a setback and what I can do differently the next time.
I can’t wait to see what the next four years hold for Hudson Kitchen. I am excited about continuously evolving into the person that I need to become in order to grow my business and to help you grow yours!
How has entrepreneurship changed you? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.