Charlotte came to me for business coaching when she returned from a long stint working as a chef on private yachts overseas. This talented lady isn’t someone who does things by halves. These days Charlotte has two businesses – Food and Joy is where she provides private and group cooking classes and nutrition coaching to clients. At we feed you, Charlotte and her team cook and deliver fresh, nutritious meals right to your door. I can vouch for the meals myself having placed an order this week – what a fantastic alternative on the nights you’re too busy to cook!
Have a read of the interview we conducted with Charlotte. Her business advice is as good as her cooking.
Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
Food and Joy started a couple of years ago when I returned from working overseas for 8 years. I see it as being a bridge between my background as a dietitian and my 17 years as a chef and in the food industry. There is a lot of information out there around food and nutrition and the messages are very confusing. We have the constant ‘foodie pics’ and articles telling us about the decadent foods we should be eating, the constant idea that we need to be a certain size to be happy and healthy and never-ending cooking shows demonstrating the gourmet meals we should be preparing at home. People are anxious and struggle to make good decisions that fit with their own personal needs.
I engage people with practical skills that are simple, doable and suitable for their lifestyle. We navigate a path through the world of conflicting information and talk food, ingredients, vegetables, kitchens, shopping and how to keep things simple. I teach private lessons and groups as well as running professional development activities, work with professional dietitians and nutrition students and write for some publications.
This year, ‘we feed you’ has launched – a meal delivery service in Melbourne. We make delicious meals that we believe standout from other prepared meals. Ours are handmade, locally sourced, include a huge range of seasonal vegetables and contain no additives. We want to provide an option for people that they can enjoy and feel good about while perhaps trying something new.
What’s one thing you would do differently if you had your time over?
I think it’s way too easy to reflect back and wish you had known what you know now. I have made mistakes and spent money on things that, in hindsight, could have been done better. But I don’t think spending time worrying about that is very helpful. I see the last two years as an exploratory period – finding my feet back in Melbourne, meeting amazing people and contacts, playing around with business concepts and structures and most importantly, finding out what I enjoy and what I see myself doing in the future.
What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone wanting to go into their own startup?
Be prepared to work. A lot. And when you are not working you will probably be thinking about work. I think a lot of people go into their own business with the idea that the flexible time will mean a lot of free time to do all the things they can’t fit in when they have a regular job. While you do have some flexibility, you will probably end up working a lot more than you would have otherwise. I don’t think this is necessarily a negative, but it’s important to know what you are in for.
You will also need to be prepared to make changes as you go along. It’s really important to have a dream and a vision but it’s hard to have this exactly right before you are in the game. And that’s ok. It just means adapting and modifying continually and assessing what is working and what isn’t and finding ways to work with that. If people are not responding to what you are offering, don’t take it personally – just adjust it and keep moving forward.
Don’t avoid the hard bits like legal stuff, insurance and bookkeeping. It’s not enough to just focus on the fun bits.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I really enjoy alone time and when I need time out, or some space to get my thoughts in order, it tends to mean scheduling in some time to be by myself. I love hiking alone and will take myself out for a day of walking when the opportunity presents itself. Doing a solid, repetitive activity is a great way to be able to listen to your body and mind and find some clarity in your thoughts. I take a notepad and pen so I can get any of that clarity down on paper before its gone again.
I also love meeting with other people working on their own or in related businesses or jobs. Everyone has their own story and ideas for the future which can be really helpful when you are feeling stuck.
What does a typical day look like?
There is absolutely no such thing as a typical day for me. There are so many different things going on that I really just have to take each day as it comes and try to schedule as efficiently as possible.
Some days are spent entirely in the kitchen – this might be preparing and packaging meals for ‘we feed you’ or getting ready for a private event, while other days might be administrative, working with clients or creating content and preparing for teaching. And of course there are the days I prefer not to think about – cleaning, organising the kitchen work space, chasing around after council or contractors and working with suppliers. These are my least favourite days but I always feel much better once they are done!
A part of me loves the lack of structure in my work – I am definitely not a 9-5 worker but I am also struggling a little with the complete lack of structure. I find it hard to switch off and this is exacerbated when work time guidelines aren’t in place. Over the next year, my goal is to really try to create some limits around when I work and what work I do in that time, hopefully giving me some more downtime.