Jennifer from Harrisburg, North Carolina

My nose was always in a book. Whether it was required reading for school or a Nancy Drew mystery, I couldn’t get enough. I come from a long line of book lovers. My grandmother was a librarian, and my parents always put a strong emphasis on reading. The library was a place we loved to go. My love of reading continued throughout my school years. I had a list of authors I enjoyed and looked forward to the next book to be released.

As I had children of my own, I found that my book list now consisted of Curious George, Thomas the Tank, and every Dora the Explorer book on the planet. On most trips to the library, we combed the children’s section, carefully selecting just the right books. Other days, we were rushing in and grabbing a handful of books before one my little ones started screaming. I never even ventured into the fiction section to grab a novel just for fun.

I did manage to find time to read the newspaper once in a while, and one day I came across an article about a meal assembly franchise. In February 2006, my friend Melissa Shoupe and I made an appointment. We were intrigued. A place where you could make 12 meals in about 2 hours without having to figure out what to cook or how to do it—what a great idea! We walked out of that place thinking, we can do this and we can do it better! Our town was growing by leaps and bounds and needed a place where busy families could quickly prepare healthy nutritious meals. But where would we start? Melissa had a background in catering and nutrition. I was a teacher, but neither of us had any idea how to start a business. The library, I thought. There must be a book on how to start a small business. So I left my kids at home with my husband and went to the library, by myself for the first time in years.

Books, books, books. I couldn’t believe all of the books on the subject of small business. There were books on writing the perfect business plan, so I grabbed those. Books about marketing caught my eye. Books about being a leader called to me. In a short time, I had a pile of books bursting with information that would help me start this business. Confidently, I took them to the circulation desk, convinced that I would read them all cover to cover as soon as I got home. Well, reality set in and between baths, diaper changes, trips to the doctor, and trying to get everyone to bed before I fell asleep myself, the books sat for days on my nightstand unopened. If I don’t have time to read the books, how am I ever going to have time to open my own business, I thought.

Make the time. Take the time. Those were the thoughts I kept having. I started by opening one of the books late one night. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. There was so much to learn, so much to process. I took notes. After speaking with an attorney who advised us to think carefully before we purchased a franchise, we decided to try it on our own. After many hours of thinking and praying, reading and praying, and writing and praying, we submitted our business plan to our bank for approval for our loan.

This past November, Dinner on Demand, a meal assembly studio kitchen, opened in Harrisburg, NC to the delight of many of our neighbors and newfound friends. We started out running and haven’t looked back. Although this is still a relatively new concept in our area, our customer list continues to grow monthly. We actually made a profit in February just one year after we first investigated this possibility at the library. People have asked if we are a franchise and when we tell hem “no”, they ask, ”Why not?” Hmmm… How to franchise your business... I’ m sure the library has a book on that too.