By Marc W. Polite
One of the most difficult things about starting a business is figuring out what type of business to start. While many focus on startups based around technology or fulfilling a need in the community, others choose to transform their life’s passion into an entrepreneurial endeavor. The Atlanta Post tapped Nadege Fleurimond, an entrepreneur who managed to do just that. She shares with us her journey in starting up Fleurimond Catering and shares the steps one can take to begin a business venture.
What motivated you to start Fleurimond Catering?
It’s funny, I was being groomed by dad, who was a single father, to go out there, get an education, and become a doctor, lawyer or some corporate tycoon of some sort. But at the same time, I also grew up watching this very man, always making his way, and doing things his way. He was a cab driver, which is pretty much self employment, and he always had one venture or another happening. All this to say, I think it was in my blood. Growing up, there was never any conscious effort on my part to be an entrepreneur, but now, that I look back, the path seemed so natural. Not seamless, but very natural. Fleurimond Catering came about because I loved cooking for friends and a crowd. I loved doing it and I kept doing it. And the more I did it, the more I wanted to even more. I read somewhere that find the thing you loved to do, and find a way to make a living out of it, and you will never have to work a day in your life. That’s total lie! That thing you love to do, you will work and work and work at it. The difference is, that work wont be a burden to you. Yes, it will tire you, and drain you at times, but it will never be a burden. When I realized I loved cooking (more so cooking for people), slowly but surely, I realized people liked my cooking enough that they wanted to pay for it. I was very honored. No better motivation to start a business when you have people asking you, rather than you offering. In my small Columbia University circle, I was the food maven. And that made it easier for me to keep pushing the limits.
What are some of the challenges of having a catering business in an economy where people are dining out less?
When I first started catering, the word of mouth marketing worked so well for me that I hardly had to think of ways of marketing my services. I had a strong corporate clientele and that meant repeat business. However, as the economy dipped, so did people’s entertaining budget. Business started feeling less secure, so they spent less. In fact, many indeed had less to spend. On my social and individual client side, people did not want to do big events as much. They feared they may lose their jobs at any moment, so they scaled down the house warmings, the weddings got smaller, and events were few and far between.
But I think this economic downturn has helped me and my team in other ways. It has made me explore an aspect of my business that I never knew existed. My weekly cooking parties and monthly socials are things that I never gave much thought to. But true entrepreneurs are resilient. We don’t just let things be. We explore, and create and innovate. We create new ways of doing things, and reformat, restructure.