Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal lays down the Essentials for Conceptualising your Food Business
Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal’s pet venture, APB Cook Studio is the hard-earned fruit of her passion and labour of four years. At the ‘Home Chef Matters’ 2016, Rushina spoke eruditely, sharing business insights, anecdotes and advice. It was the perfect recipe for a shot of inspiration that the audience of home chefs, who aspire to conceptualise commercial culinary endeavours like her own, needed to kickstart the day.
Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal loves a good challenge. With no degree in journalism or hospitality, she has risen to be a name to reckon with in the Indian food industry. She holds the distinction of being one of the pioneering food bloggers in the country. In 2002, when she decided to pursue a career in writing, it was a decision that was born out of need to have a creative outlet. Today, she has a successful blog, a popular cookbook, a career as a food consultant and a flourishing cook studio to her credit. She hosts a variety of people from the food industry, including chefs, home cooks and food historians at her studio. APB Cook Studio has since shown a growth of 50 percent year-on-year and has been operationally profitable from year one.
She owns A Perfect Bite Consulting LLP a pioneering food consulting venture that offers a host of services, ranging from food styling and food photography to developing menus, products, cookbooks and projects for some of the biggest names in the food industry. She also owns and runs India's first Kitchen studio, the APB Cook Studio. What makes this all this even more amazing is that she has done it without a master's degree in business administration, which speaks volumes about her innate business sense.
However, this delicious success was not something that was served to her on a platter; hers is a 100 percent self-funded business. And like anybody starting up a new business venture, she also had to work hard towards her goals and be patient on a path fraught with uncertainties in the beginning.
For those hopeful of setting up their own culinary business, Rushina has some valuable words of advice:
Temper yourself: Come up with your own winning idea for a business and work towards achieving it. She believes in starting with one thing and building the others around it. "You may have a thousand ideas, but start with one or maybe two. Because each one that succeeds will motivate you and help you work towards the 999 that you want to get done," she adds.
Start Small, Dream Big: It is always wiser to take safe baby steps rather than take big clumsy strides; that way, you will go far. "When we start a business from home, we are one human being with this herculean task before us; we are a one man army. So it gets easier if the tasks you set out for yourself are achievable," she emphasises.
Be Flexible: The secret of growth lies in your willingness to change; the idea that you start with is often not the one you will end up with. She says, "Initially we didn't want to call ourselves studio that did cooking classes. We had all these fancy names like 'Culinary Experience' and 'Oregano Obsession'." But when the phone rang for the first time at the studio, the voice at the other end enquired, "Aap class lete ho na?" Rushina had to swallow the bitter pill and agree that it was indeed a class. But all was not in vain. "I had two conversions for my first two classes," she reveals.
Five Parameters for a Successful Business
- Brand: A brand is really important
- A healthy cash flow: However small or big you choose to make your business never settle for something that does not have a healthy cash flow.
- Be paranoid about your bottom line: It's your money. Be paranoid; be kanjoos.
- Organised operations: Work around your strengths and work towards covering up your weaknesses. If your strength lies in making fantastic cakes, that's what you should be doing not getting into accounting or social media. Get someone to help you with that.
- Healthy growth year-on-year: I have one objective at the end of every month; I had to make more than I was spending. That's how I was operationally profitable. I also started upping my targets.
Quick Pearls of Wisdom
- Do a SWOT analysis. Write down not only your strengths and weaknesses but also your opportunities and threats. You need to know what's coming.
- Keep a sales pitch ready; you will never know when you need one.
- Don't be shy to talk about your work or your money.
- Never do anything for free!
- Stay curious about your subject. Read, study and keep abreast of what is happening in your business.
- Upscale yourself. Look at how you can improve your product. Six months down the line, the person who is buying from you may be looking at something new.
- As an entrepreneur, you will have lots of people who would offer you help. Be wise and take it.
- Motivate yourself and be positive. Ward off negativity.
- Appreciate everyone; value relationships. When things get lonely, reach out.
- Celebrate your victory and believe in yourself. Don't be afraid of failure and savour your journey.