3 Master Ingredients for a Deliciously Successful Business

Entrepreneurship is like cooking.

More specifically, it’s a lot like being on one of those cooking shows where they limit your time and give you strange pairings to work with or other wild assignments, and suddenly you find yourself making a from-scratch pesto bolognese with jackfruit and toasted walnuts. You don’t even know if it’s cooked all the way through when you serve it to the judges.

There’s so much uncertainty. You’ve got to be quick on your toes to adapt to the circumstance you’re in. And you’ve got to be laser-focused on what you’re doing, otherwise you might accidentally chop off your finger, or burn the kitchen down!

But hey…

Pressure = Potential

So why would anyone want to be an entrepreneur? Why do people choose this role when it’s full of risks that others avoid? There are many reasons, but they mostly boil down to one simple fact: entrepreneurs see potential in situations where no one else does. And if you really think about it…

it’s always in a situation with the most pressure that the most growth and success takes place.

World-renowned chef Cat Cora, known for “Iron Chef,” notes that many contestants add too many flavors and “muddy up” their dish, while cookbook author and “Chopped” judge Chef Maneet Chauhan suggests knowing which go-to recipes can be made most quickly in order to accomplish more while doing less. (Source: Insider.com) Entrepreneurs struggle in much the same way: we’re playing around with various ventures and ideas, trying to “cook up” something amazing when it may seem as though all odds are against us.

But as long as we’ve got three master ingredients at hand, we’ll always come out on top:


Just as foods need the proper amount of prep and cook time to get just right, entrepreneurs need the same thing. But it’s not just enough to just “have time”: we also need good time management skills. On a cooking show, contestants often have to find faster or more convenient ways of doing things vs sticking with a more traditional route.

Entrepreneurs, while not under the pressure of a giant overhead clock, will benefit greatly by prioritizing their time and finding faster or more convenient ways of creating and sharing content, promoting offers, and connecting with their audience. This could mean delegating or automating certain tasks… or it could mean finding a schedule and rhythm that maximizes your capacity and creativity.

Related: 10 Commandments for Enjoying Entrepreneurial Success


What sets successful dishes apart from those that don’t quite make the cut? The “secret ingredient” or “special sauce”–an entrepreneur’s personal flair, style, and creativity–is usually what makes all the difference between “good” and “great.” On a cooking show, the judges look for the combination of not just flavors but also textures, and how they are incorporated into the dish as a whole.

The “ingredients” put into a service or product are the details. The branding. The colors and the phrasing and the organization of the material. It’s all the things that go into creating your offer, and how they come together to be… as they say in the cooking show world… “you on a plate.”

Related: Entrepreneurship 101: How a Powerful Personal Brand Makes More Money


No matter how delicious the judges might find a dish, they eat with their eyes first so the plating has to be on point. Make it inviting. Make it enticing. Make them drool before they’ve even tasted it. Obviously the contestants are rushed, but there’s no excuse for sloppiness. (Revisit the bit about time management above.)

In other words, you could have the most amazing product in the whole entire world, but if it’s not “plated” in an appealing way then no one is going to want to buy it. The presentation is as important as the substance because it’s the gate-keeper, standing between browsing and buying. This is your “Why” and your “Pain Point.” It doesn’t have to be flashy–humble and understated has its place, too–but it does have to be clear: what pain does it solve and why does your audience need it?

Ready… Set… Get Cooking!

Just like the contestants on those cooking shows, you chose entrepreneurship because you wanted to push yourself and see what you were capable of, right? You want to reach out of your comfort zone, stretch your limits, and achieve amazing things!

Well, when you combine time management, the right ingredients, and some deliberate presentation, you’ve got all you need for a solid foundation. From there, you get to play. The world is your pantry, and you can create “dishes” full of curiosity, intrigue, technique, elegance, and anything else you can dream up.

P.S. I’ve never actually tried adding jackfruit and walnuts to a bolognese, but if you ever give it a shot, let me know how it goes!

P.P.S. I do, however, make a great pesto pasta. DM me on IG @maria_k_tan for the recipe!