Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baron's International Kitchen signs Contract Packaging Company

Hey folks,

Well, I've been out of touch for a bit but I now have some wonderful news to report. I have selected Nelson Farms as my contract packaging company or "co-packer".

Nelson Farms will be taking over the work of cooking my gourmet Caribbean Jerk Sauce Marinades and Caribbean Hot Sauce. This is exciting on so many fronts but most notably because it means that my company is growing- always great news :) As I've been lamenting, now that I am in 16 stores, I just cannot keep up with cooking all the products myself at the Reservoir Inn Restaurant while also growing the business by getting my products into new stores and performing the book-keeping, marketing, customer service, vendor relations, strategic planning, accounts payable, event planning and accounts receivable tasks.

It's a bittersweet achievement actually because I really do enjoy the cooking...well, maybe not the getting up at 2 in the morning part of the process :) but there's something creative in mixing onions, garlic, spices and other ingredients together and getting yummy sauce at the end. I've also been a bit anal about product quality- I want it to taste PERFECT!! That anal-ity has paid off it seems as so many of you continuously share how much you're enjoying my gourmet sauces and condiments. Your feedback inspires me to remain focused on quality.

One of the many reasons I choose this particular co-packer is their dedication to quality, commitment to process and focus on gourmet specialty food entrepreneurs. Nelson Farms will be following my recipes and they are committed to following these to the letter so the taste of my Hot and Mild Caribbean Jerk Sauce Marinades won't change. You may notice that they are more smooth in consistency, not so chunky in texture perhaps but this is merely a function of the high-tech processing machines at their disposal versus my doing the same work by hand. It's actually pretty awesome the work these machines can do. In my case, I can see that doing all the work by hand isn't necessarily better :) The same is true of my Caribbean Hot Sauce- it looks a little different, smoother consistency but it has the same awesome taste. I invite you all to share your thoughts about the products when you buy them on the shelves this year.

I still have some work to do on my Portuguese Repolho Relish. As you know, the Relish is more the consistency of Sauerkraut so it falls outside of what the processing machines can bottle. I am planning to spend some time with Amanda, the Production Development Manager at Nelson Farms to adjust the consistency so that the Portuguese Repolho Relish can be processed by machine. No matter how the consistency changes, I commit to you that the great taste won't change.

I'm considering signing on with Nelson Farms' Distribution Program which is an interesting and valuable program specifically focused on helping gourmet and specialty food entrepreneurs get their yummy goodies on store shelves so stay tuned for more about that.

So, this is part of what's been keeping me so busy of late. I'm back on my regular posting schedule now and I will be sharing more exciting news so stay tuned.

Here's to growing and growing pains,


Nelson Farms located in Cazenovia, New York is affiliated with Morrisville State College. Nelson Farms is entrepreneurially focused and offers many services to help the new and growing gourmet & specialty food manufacturer take their recipe(s) from kitchen to store shelves to the world. Nelson Farms provides entrepreneurial agri-business opportunities for specialty food processors, farmers, growers and producers. Services include processing/co-packing, product development, dairy incubator, distribution, marketing & sales and so much more. I invite anyone out there interested in starting or growing their gourmet or specialty food production company to contact Nelson Farms ASAP. Tell them Terry sent you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bookkeeping for growing small businesses

So I've been most consumed lately getting all the end of year paperwork and calculations ready for my corporate tax filings- yes, tax season is once again upon us and lining up a co-packer. I have great news about the co-packer but more about that maybe tomorrow.

Now, some reflections on the financial stuff...

As owner of a business that's started to show consistent sales activity, I'd been keeping track of my expenses, sales and all that good stuff using an Excel spreadsheet. Now to be totally honest, this method had been working just fine. Everything was pretty straightforward and the spreadsheet was easy to use.

Now that I have loans, prepaid expenses and all sorts of stuff like that, the process of working through receipts in January was like wrestling a huge bear with sharp claws. I mean, OK so an expense is always an expense, right? Well maybe except if it's a loan?? ...and how exactly do you calculate cash on hand? Clearly, I am going to need some help but my business is still a start-up and I just can't afford to hire a full time CFO or bookkeeper. Still, it became clear that my Excel spreadsheet just wasn't going to cut it anymore.

My business partner and hubby Josh and my friend Ric Dragon of Dragon Search Marketing both highly recommended Quickbooks. Ric uses Quickbooks for his business bookkeeping and commented how user friendly the software is to use and how  much it simplified the bookkeeping process.

So, I'm jumping in with both feet! I did an online google search for Quickbooks training classes in the local area and found a course offered by Suny Ulster (course # DCM 646 36). It was easy to browse their online catalog and the entire registration process was quick and simple. The course runs 4, 3-hour evening sessions and my registration fee includes a textbook and student copy of the software (a nice cost savings for the software).

I'm pretty psyched! Hopefully, the hardest part will be getting caught up with all of my receipts from January 1st till today :)  The first class is tonight 3/1- I'm a little nervous about it but looking forward to learning an easier way to organize and classify all the receipts. I'll let you know how it goes.

Here's to lifelong learning!


Now #1 in google search results for Caribbean Hot Sauce

So, there 's a lot going on as usual...stay tuned over the next couple of posts to find out all that's new and exciting.

First, a big thanks to Buddah and his team at iloveitspicy.com for their reviews of my gourmet Caribbean Hot Sauce and gourmet Caribbean Jerk Sauce marinade.

I also want to sincerely thank all of you out there who took the time to watch the reviews. Your views of those videos have propelled Baron's International Kitchen to the #1 spot in google's results for searches of "caribbean hot sauce" -- WOW! How cool is that?! Very exciting.

I'm really looking forward to and I'm working really hard to get ready for Spring and the kickoff of grilling season and there are lots of new developments.

Stay tuned!