Ba-Li Cravings Catering is a new catering business that specializes mostly in Mediterranean cuisine and indulgent desserts.
I’d like to suggest a different way of looking at events. I have an opportunity to show people that when they have guests everyone can feel welcome. People don’t need to feel uncomfortable because they have specific food preferences, because when they come to a catering event that I’m catering they have a very wide variety of choices. There will always be vegan, there will always be vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy free, so people really come up to the table look around and say “Wow, I feel like I’m being thought of.” That’s the main idea.
First of all I think as a women entrepreneur to go out and start her own business was such a big commitment. I decided to start with the construction of the kitchen before I had a loan…before I even had a business plan.
I think also in the way people look at events. I think that other companies will realize that having notes on the tables that says if you have an allergy let us know is a lot less inviting than having very clear varieties on the table for everyone to feel welcome.
Anyone that has an event. I always say that if you have five people in the room you probably have at least three different food preferences.
I really love working with Cornell because the student body there is diverse. I had an event last week…someone walked in and looked at the table and turned around and said, “Oh my god this is food from home.” That was a fun reaction.
I have to be asking. Asking my customers, asking my vendors, and even asking my competitors…When you turn around and ask someone something they usually feel very happy to share their knowledge and their experiences.
All of the speakers at the WREL Conference talked about finding mentors. I turned around and tried that with some people around here that do similar business to me and I found so much knowledge…I was just overwhelmed by their response.
I was working with Mike Driscoll at the SBAC at the time. I was just in my real passionate stage of “I wanna have a business,” it wasn’t very clear yet what it would look like.
I have a whole group of people who care and who are backing my dream and my day-to-day life.
He invited me to an event at Rev where Ariana Blossom pitched the Passenger to Pilot program… that for me was really the beginning of my focus. Ariana talked about the fact that if you always think that you need to be really ready with the full financial planning, the whole business plan, have all the ducks in a row, that will never happen because you will never be ready enough. That was my turning point.
I came home that night and I said to my husband, “Well, I’m gonna build a commercial kitchen.” I had no business plan. We had just bought a house, but I knew it was the right thing to do and that was the beginning.
It’s feeling that I can do it because I am not alone. I have a whole group of people who care and who are backing my dream and my day-to-day life. There is always someone I can ask. There is always someone who is willing to share their knowledge, who raises questions, who constantly makes each of us think about new aspects of business.
One of the fantastic things to think about this place is that it really enables you to start a business. There are—and I didn’t realize this probably a year and a half ago—there are many free resources or very cheap resources available. I started with the SBA. Then Rev with the women’s program. I am a Chamber member and I found that they’re more than just a place to find resources, but also a place that really does a lot to grow new businesses and to support businesses. Also, BNI is a huge referral network, and I joined one of the two chapters here in Ithaca. And all of a sudden I moved from being alone in this business to having a chapter with 40 people, who work on promoting me and helping me. All these resources together really made my business real.
It feels right. I see the reactions. When I started they would say, “I have catering company called Ba-Li Cravings,” and people would say, “Oh, interesting.” Now I say, “I have a catering company called Ba-Li Cravings,” and people say, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about you!”
When you turn around and ask someone something they usually feel very happy to share their knowledge and their experiences.
Start before you’re ready. It’s my mantra and I’m a strong believer in it. It is a learning process.
Also, always be on the top of your game because every time something really great happens there might be something hard to deal with but you always know that there will be a great moment right after.
Start by finding and creating a network of people that are out of your regular network. If you are a scientist don’t go and create a network of scientists. Find people from other areas because those people will actually trigger your thinking, ask you different kinds of questions, and get you to a better place than you would be without them.