A Business Owner Who Backed Off Tries to Step Back In
Jim Wilson/The New York Times
By JOHN GROSSMANN
Published: October 23, 2013
Bibby Gignilliat, owner of a small business, cut back her working hours for two years, but now she wants a hands-on role again. PARTIES THAT COOK is a 14-year-old event business founded in San Francisco by Bibby Gignilliat, a former marketing manager at Williams-Sonoma who followed her muse — first by going to cooking school and then by starting a business that offers cooking classes as employee-appreciation and corporate team-building events. It now handles events for as many as 300 in San Francisco as well as in Chicago, Seattle and Portland, Ore., where it maintains satellite offices. The company employs 11 full-time workers at its headquarters, and about 65 chefs, servers and dishwashers on a contract basis. Last year, revenue reached $2.2 million. How Does an Owner Who Stepped Away Reassert Control?
Bibby Gignilliat, founder of a company that offers cooking classes as employee-appreciation and team-building events, wants to re-engage with the business to meet her long-term goals. THE CHALLENGE Seeking to revive her long-neglected personal life, Ms. Gignilliat announced to her core staff in January 2010 that she was stepping back. She would continue to work, but she would cut back her hours and work mostly from home. The business did well, $1.85 million in revenue in 2010, with her on reduced hours. Last fall, however, she decided she wanted to re-engage — and double sales in four years. Her hope was that she could re-energize the business without demoralizing those who had been running it. THE BACKGROUND A decade after starting her business, Ms. Gignilliat had an epiphany, when, as a panelist at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T., she heard herself referred to as the owner of a “lifestyle business.” “Lifestyle?” she muttered to herself. “I have no life.” For years, she had been logging 80-hour weeks. Soon to...
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