Suzanne Hayen, Founder and CEO of Let’s Be Chef’s Shares Insight for Millennial Entrepreneurs
As a millennial entrepreneur, the three most common questions I’m asked are how did I know that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, how did I come up with the idea for my business, and what does it takes to be successful?
Why did I want to become an entrepreneur? When I was younger, I actually wanted to be an engineer. I had a great mind for it, and had a knack for solving problems in unique and efficient ways. I went to college and got my degree in Aerospace Engineering. After working in the “real world” for a few years, I was getting antsy; even though I worked for a good company and had a fair amount of responsibility, I was well aware that I wouldn’t truly be able to influence the direction of the company (at least not for many, many years). I really liked the idea of building a company from scratch and having something big that I started and that I could say was mine. But what company could I build?
When trying to figure out what type of business to start, I searched my own life for problems that didn’t yet have an elegant solution. I spent a few weeks hashing out the details, then got to work. My first business attempted to solve the problem of how to meet like-minded people in the real world. Even though that business ultimately failed, I learned a lot, and that insight would prove invaluable when I started my second business.
When I was looking for new ideas, I again searched my own life for problems I experienced on a regular basis. By choosing to work on a problem that I personally experience, I found that I had unique insight and could come up with a great solution. I was also able to be the first tester of the product, and if I found it to be extremely helpful, there would certainly be other people who would want to use it too. After considering a number of ideas, I finally chose to pursue Let’s Be Chefs, which is an app-based service that saves you time getting home-cooked meals on the table. Since this was a daily struggle for me (planning dinners each night with cookbooks and online recipe sites can be extremely time-consuming and tedious) and the existing solutions didn’t work well, I created a product that would solve the problem in a better way. We were able to quickly iterate since I was able to use the product in my everyday life and could personally experience the pain points with the business and quickly fix them.
So what does it take to create a successful business? Work. And a lot of it. There’s a lot to do to get a startup off the ground, and it isn’t as glamorous as the movies would have you think. There were (and still are) a lot of late nights and cups of coffee. Let’s Be Chefs consists of just myself and the technical co-founder, so everything that needs to be done must be done by one of us. I’m the CEO, customer support, chef, dishwasher, photographer, project manager, the entire marketing department, PR, HR, legal, graphic designer, janitor, etc. There’s a lot to learn, and a lot to do, which means I’m constantly learning new skills, working outside my comfort zone, and putting out fires. There have been many roadblocks, setbacks, and disappointments, but one of the keys to being successful is to keep pushing through.
It’s tough being an entrepreneur, and it’s definitely not for everyone. There’s a lot of work, highs and lows, and discomfort involved in starting your own business. But at least for me, it’s all worth it to be able to call my own shots, create my own company, and set my own course in life.
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