At the Illinois Small Business Development Center of McLean County at Illinois Wesleyan University (SBDC) we’ve learned that one thing entrepreneurs have in common is the self-confidence that any “closing door” represents a door opening to an opportunity.
Kristine Freshour had considerable experience with food and kitchens, first as a sorority chef, then baker, then assisted-living food director, and finally teaching food management classes at Logan Correctional Facility for women.
Then a door closed. State budget cuts made Kristine a victim of a workforce reduction. Undaunted, she returned to school and two years later had a degree in Business Administration. Kristine says, “I knew I wanted to start a business and with my background in food this seemed like a good fit.”
She started Fresh Food Today, providing instruction in safety and sanitation for work in the food industry, offering a one-day course and exam for Food Manager certification.
Here’s some entrepreneurial thinking: “Our community has one of the largest number of food operations per capita in the United States!” says Kristine. “And it is crucial for owners to have a business that is close in proximity and offers frequent classes.”
“My first challenge was marketing my services. A few companies offer what I do, but I had to distinguish myself from them. I did that by offering classes at a permanent location that is centrally located, just off Veterans Parkway and by making personal connections with owners and managers of local concerns,” says Kristine. “By the time I talked with SBDC I was already established, but they encouraged me by verifying I was going in the right direction.”
Kristine hopes Fresh Food Today will become established as the go-to location for food manager certifications. She says, “I see myself someday expanding to teaching and mentoring those who need help in establishing their dream food business. I’ve successfully started my own business and want to inspire others to do the same.”
For help finding your “open door,” confirmation that you’re on the right path, and help discovering the many opportunities and resources for entrepreneurs, give us a call at SBDC and set-up an appointment.