Somehow, I ended up starting a food company. Funny how life works out.
As I’ve been working on building a company from the ground up for the first time, while also learning how to cook, I’ve seen some parallels between cooking and entrepreneurship.
1. You can only learn by doing
Cooking: Sure you can pick up a couple cool tricks from watching the food network or even going to a cooking class. But the only way you’re really going to learn is by getting your ass in your kitchen and start dicing.
Entrepreneurship: Take all the webinars, go to all the conferences and talk over coffee as much as you want. You want really learn anything until you start doing something.
2. Always have a goal in mind
Cooking: A cooking teacher recently told me this and it made a lot of sense. If you’re just blindly following a recipe, then you have no idea why you’re chopping that pepper thinly, or why you’re using a large dice instead of a medium dice. Always know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Entrepreneurship: We’re constantly tempted to try new marketing channels, product ideas, new features, etc. Everyone you speak to will tell you something different that you should do. It’s vital that you always know what your goal is and you ignore anything that does not help you achieve that goal.
3. It’s all about trial and error
Cooking: Go nuts. Try new things. Explore new ingredients. If you don’t like it, oh well, you’ll live and now you’ll know for the rest of your life not to make that mistake again. When you truly get in the mindset of just trying new things, you’ll start to fall in love with cooking.
Entrepreneurship: There are no silver bullets. The only way to find out what works is to try them. If they fail, then learn from that and try something else. If you’re not willing to try some crazy stuff, then go back to your 9-5.
4. Intuition will inevitably play a big part
Cooking: Intuition is something you can learn. Over time, you’ll pick up a natural understanding of what flavors might go well with each other. You’ll just know when food is cooked enough and you’ll start free styling any recipe you find.
Entrepreneurship: “Follow your gut”. You’ll hear those words a lot when building a startup. Not all questions can be answered by data and logic. Sometimes, you just have to go with what feels right. It’s that invaluable trait that makes an entrepreneur unstoppable against all odds.
5. It’s hard to please everyone
Cooking: No matter how much you try, there will always be someone in a group who doesn’t like onions, or has a specific dietary need.
Entrepreneurship: If you’re trying to please everyone, you’re doing it wrong. If there aren’t people that don’t resonate with your product and brand, then you’re not being specific enough. Know who you’re building for and focus on those people.
6. Get into a routine
Cooking: The best way to inject cooking into your life is to get into a routine. I try to go grocery shopping and cook a big meal every Sunday. You can do much less than that to start, maybe once or twice a month. Or you can try to do more. But get into the habit. This way you can plan in advance what you’re going to cook, and what ingredients you need. It’s really hard to cook when it’s always a spur of the moment kind of thing.
Entrepreneurship: Sometimes I feel like I’m just constantly putting out fires and never quite getting ahead of the game. As I started to build in routines into my schedule, it allowed me to plan and prioritize much more efficiently. I have a weekly reflection and planning session every Sunday (before I cook), and I developed a morning routine of pushups, yoga and meditation that gets me into game mode every day.
7. There are no rules
Ever. Make your own rules.
David is the CEO of Feast, an online video platform teaching beginners how to cook.
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