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Michele Hoskins & her sweet dream

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Sometimes, you just have to manufacture an opportunity … even when it’s sitting right there in front of you.

That’s the story of Michele Hoskins, a single mother of three who had read that the 1980s was to be the “decade of the woman” and knew she wanted to strike out on her own but didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was. She had to look it up in the dictionary.

Hoskins craved independence, so she cast around for an opportunity. What she found was a family legacy: a recipe for pancake syrup handed down from her great, great grandmother, America Washington, who had created it when she worked as a slave at a plantation whose family members didn’t like molasses.

Since those days, the recipe of butter, cream and honey was always on the table of Washington’s descendants. They called it “honey cream.”

By tradition, the third daughter in each generation would be given the secret recipe. As the only daughter in her generation, Hoskins asked her mother for the recipe so she could market the syrup: an idea her mother and most of her family found horrifying.

Her mother also asked why Hoskins wouldn’t give the recipe to her own third daughter. But for Hoskins, handing down a business made more sense than handing down a recipe.

Hoskins’ family finally relented, and she survived cold-calling, lack of capital, zero business experience and a health crisis to turn her legacy into a multimillion-dollar company. She says it’s as though her great, great grandmother were calling out to her that she’d been waiting for someone to realize that the syrup was more than a recipe.

Hoskins’ advice: Look for a gem that might be right in front of your nose, hiding in plain sight. Take it, she says, and manufacture your own opportunity.

— Adapted from Sweet Expressions: Michele Hoskins’ Recipe for Success, Michele Hoskins, Adams Media.

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