For chef Meg Hall, entrepreneurship runs in her family. Though she worked in the world of financial advising after graduating from Villanova University with a degree in marketing, Hall always knew that one day, she would become her own boss. After all, every member of family since her grandparents’ generation did it. “That’s sort of the mindset in my family,” the bubbly businesswoman explains.
And though going at it alone can be a really scary experience, Hall knew it was the only way she’d be able to make any real money, especially as a chef where the hours tend be long and the paychecks small. So how did Hall make the transition from a 9 to 5 financial job to running her own catering business?
After working a combined five years for Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney, Hall realized numbers exhausted her. Though she loved her clients, she knew her job wasn’t making her happy. So she did what any unhappy employee would do – she hired a business coach and started turning the wheels for her future. Together, they mapped a career plan around the things Hall loved to do, which, as it turns out, was cooking. “I definitely picked out a lifestyle and career for the life I wanted to lead,” Hall emphasizes.
Following the plan she created with her business coach, Hall then attended Le Cordon Bleu. As part of the curriculum, she worked in the kitchen at a Michelin star restaurant. Though she loved the cuisine – so much so she nearly cried during her first meal there – Hall knew working on the hot line was not for her. So she worked as a food writer as well as with a cookbook author and squirreled money away until she had enough saved up to make a start on her own.
Once Hall had enough money, she decided to make a go for it, following the footsteps of her grandparents, many years before. She goes on to explain she just “jumped off the cliff and rode away.” Although she likens starting her business to jumping off a cliff, it’s clear Hall started her catering company with calculated intelligence. Because of her marketing experience, Hall instinctively put a lot of money and attention into her company’s logo.
This cook emphasizes clients really want to see a business that exists full time, not just when they are utilizing its services. “That kind of trust is the first thing I establish with my community,” the savvy chef says. Hall said she found her way thanks to some good old fashioned research. She bought books from Amazon on the catering business and read them cover to cover. From this knowledge, she learned the expectations and pitfalls of the job. Hall started taking meetings with other entrepeneurs who could give her advice and she started networking. She joined referral groups and got involved with people who could mutually benefit from helping each other out. “I put my my business on the map,” she explains. Hall’s clients also helped to put her business on the map. She says yelp.com reviews have been a huge contribution to generating more business for her company. New clients call simply because they read a good review on yelp.
One piece of advice Hall offers to aspiring entrepreneurs is to track where your business comes from. Otherwise, you might waste a lot of money contributing to groups that aren’t giving anything back to your business. And, on the other side of the coin, you should always “know where your bread is buttered.” Hall emphasizes it’s important to have a good relationship with the community that is bringing business to your company. Her catering company reached new levels of success after an insightful move to hire a PR company. Especially in Los Angeles, where “it’s a celebrity driven culture,” press goes a long way with clients. “Everyone wants to know who you’ve worked with,” this cunning chef explains. And Hall’s list of A-list clients is nothing to scoff at. She’s worked with the Jonas Brothers, Kings of Leon, Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott, Iron Chef Michael Simon, Paramount Studios, Citysearch and Absolut Vodka. Just to name a few.
Things seem to be going smoothly for Chef Meg Hall. Although she doesn’t pretend every step has been a breeze she continues to take the good with the bad. This chef will tell you there’s always been something good every day – a cookie, if you will – that reminds her why she’s on this path. And everyone knows a cookie makes everything better.
Written by: Mary Ronau
Edited by: Bridgette
MADE BY MEG, LLC