Transforming a Beloved Family Recipe into a Successful Enterprise

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“Today is the best time to start a business,” says Jill Gerodias-Borja, co-founder of the highly successful chain of restaurants, Manang’s Chicken. At the 3rd Mompreneur Summit: LIFE+BIZ, Jill shared her no-nonsense business startup tips to a roomful of attentive mompreneurs and aspiring business owners. A CPA lawyer, Jill instantly took command of the audience with her firm grasp of the subject matter.

Start now
This is perhaps the most important message which Jill wanted to share with the audience. If you have a good business idea, start working on bringing it to life today. Tomorrow is too late, she says. As a matter of fact, you should have started yesterday.

She says, “When the opportunity comes, you take it.”

When Jill and her sister Jen Gerodias Slagle decided to go into business with a beloved family recipe, the former was still adjusting to life as a mom. It didn’t matter. The sisters brought their delicious chicken to Mercato, and Jill found herself breastfeeding while overseeing operations.

She adds, “You don’t have to be unique. You just have to be better.”

Manang’s Chicken, for example, is not a new idea, and nor is it a unique one. It’s fried chicken. But what makes Manang’s Chicken decidedly singular is its taste, which is downright delicious.

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Stay committed
It’s one thing to start a business, and quite another to keep it running, to commit yourself to it. Jill says, “Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.”

Entrepreneurs will encounter many challenges, she warns, but they must be steadfast in their vision for their organization. They must also be prepared to make mistakes and to sometimes fail.

Failure is as much a part of running a business as success. There’s no doubt about it. Indeed, Jills says, “You will fail. Everyone fails.”

But with failure comes valuable lessons which will help make you better and stronger than ever before. When faced with a failure, Jill says, “Move on. What matters is how you bounce back.”

It’s more than just good food
If you’re in the food business, Jill says that the success of your enterprise isn’t just about how good your food is. It’s also about making sure that you’re taking good care of the business side of things. Operations, purchasing, accounting, marketing, logistics—all these elements will help make your food business a good one.

In the case of Manang’s Chicken, Jill and her sister Jen have divided tasks according to their expertise. Jen, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, takes care of the kitchen while Jill, who is a whiz at finance, takes care of the back office.

Keep growing
Last but not least, Jill exhorts entrepreneurs, no matter how successful they maybe, to not rest on their laurels. She says, “Keep growing. Success is temporary.”

Entrepreneurs need to listen to their customers and adapt to changing needs, she says. Otherwise, she warns, “You can still screw up!”

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