With a bit of hard work and a big appetite for success, ACU graduate Chris Norton (’10) took a business plan he created for an ACU entrepreneurship class and used it to change his life.
Chris created the business plan for a Mexican food delivery company while taking a class in ACU’s College of Business Administration. After graduating, he took his ideas into the real world to start Abilene’s Enchilada Express.
Inspiration for a business
“I came up with the idea in college after always being tired and worn out from school and work, and not wanting to cook, and not wanting to go anywhere to buy anything and then bring it back home,” Chris says. “Food delivery was always popular around our house but there were simply not many options. I always had a passion for Mexican food, and one day it just popped into my head, ‘Why is there not a Mexican food delivery company?’ Eighteen months later, here we are.”
In the entrepreneurship class, Chris was required to develop a business idea that included ways to ensure his business would succeed and make a profit. During the process, he learned about unforeseen and unexpected costs, slow initial sales and early cash flow complications. This project helped pave the way for his new restaurant.
“The class was very helpful in really helping me understand the financial aspects of what is required to open a business,” Chris says.
Although only open since October 2010, Chris believes Enchilada Express’s future is promising. He believes the idea was creative, and because it is the first of its kind in Abilene, it has an advantage.
“We broke the barrier, created a company when we had nothing to follow, and we are the first company to do what it is we do,” Chris says. “We serve a market that no one else does.”
Hard work pays off
After developing the idea, Chris began the process of building his restaurant. He ran into challenges looking for loans, finding the right location, coordinating plumbing and electrical work, and getting the restaurant equipment – but eventually it all came together. Along with this preparation, Chris used his background and connections with a friend at a Mexican food restaurant to learn the ways of the kitchen.
“I would watch all kinds of dishes being prepared in the kitchen, ask lists of questions, then take numerous and detailed notes about everything and the processes involved,” Chris says. “After seeing this Mexican food being cooked, I would spend my weekends at home re-creating all the food that I had seen made. I am sure my wife was sick of eating all different kinds of enchiladas every weekend.”
Although the days are long, Chris loves working in the restaurant business because “every day has its own set of challenges.”
Learning to be a Christian in business
Looking back at his time as a student in ACU’s business school, Chris says the unique personality blend among the professors enriched his experience.
“I really appreciated the side stories that professors would tell about their life experiences in business and how sometimes their ethics and Christian beliefs were challenged in certain situations, and what they did about it,” Chris says. “This really gave me an above-the-textbook perspective on how to look at situations in business and live and judge them for what they are with the Christian mindset.”
COBA not only taught Chris how to establish a successful business, but also the value of Christian business practices, he says. “The world is in great need of more Christian-oriented business people. ACU’s College of Business Administration is a great place to learn what it takes.”