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I have a recipe for gumbo and chili. Every time I make the dishes, my friends and co-workers say I should sell it. They also offer me money to make personal pots for them. How can I get my gumbo and chili out of my kitchen and into the kitchens of others without going the catering route?
–N. Credic, Washington, DC
You have lots of options to get your chili and/or gumbo to market. You can sell to grocery stores or discount chains. You can research a distributor, sell it yourself over the Internet, or open a restaurant that serves chili and gumbo. Also consider selling to chain restaurants like Wendy’s. You should consider diversifying the products to include other types of gumbo or chili or foods to accompany them. Read about Wally Amos in Famous Amos: The Face That Launched a Thousand Chips (Doubleday; $14.95) for some inspiration.
Or you could follow the example of Michelle Hoskins, who initially kept her business close to home by creating syrup sensations in her mother’s basement. Today, Michelle Foods Inc. is a multimillion dollar company with products sold nationwide. Also read “From Concept to Customer” in this issue for step-by-step instruction on how other entrepreneurs brought their products to market. In it, you’ll learn the importance of free publicity, meeting with buyers, and having a great merchandising plan. To create a network for your budding business, contact the National Association for Retail Marketing Services (www.narms.com).