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How a Cheese Board Side Hustle Grossed $1 Million in Three Years

Who would have ever thought that cheese boards could earn you $1 million?

But that’s exactly what happened to Monisha Mirsa, who grew her side hustle charcuterie board business, BoardsbyMo, to $1 million in revenue in just three years. Mirsa now runs the business full-time with a team of 7 employees.

She recently appeared on my podcast The Side Hustle Show, part of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, to tell her extraordinary story.

Photo courtesy of BoardsbyMo

Filling a need during the pandemic

When the quarantine orders were put in place in Boston during the beginning of the pandemic, Mirsa started going a little “stir crazy” at home working for a software company.

She had a lot of friends and family who were essential employees and healthcare workers. Seeing her friends working so hard gave her the idea to prepare some snack platters or home-cooked meals for them. Mirsa started dropping these off at hospitals around Boston for free.

But some of the staff she gave platters to asking if they could buy some. That “planted a little seed,” Mirsa said. She didn’t see this becoming a full-time job though, as she assumed she’d be going back to work in the near future.

A month later a friend reached out and asked if Mirsa would make a cheeseboard for her mom for Mother’s Day. She insisted on paying and also insisted that Mirsa start an Instagram account and think about turning this into a business. On May 5th, 2020, Mirs started her Instagram account, and on May 10th, she had her first order.

“It was never supposed to happen, I just kept thinking this is cool,” Monisha said.

Related: This Couple’s Side Hustle Lets Them Stay for Free in High-End Homes Around the World, Making $20k a Month.

Using Instagram

After Mirsa started her Instagram account, she posted what she called, “almost like a fake promotion”, which read:

$40 date night board gets delivered to your doorstep, mix of cheese, charcuterie, fruit, nuts, jams, 2 days only, DM me to reserve yours now!

She admits she had no idea what she was doing. Two hours later she had more than 20 DMs from complete strangers asking for one of these boards to be delivered.

Mirsa said she was being found because she was tagging Boston food bloggers and using hashtags that promoted her boards. In that first year, she grew her account to around 20,000 followers.

Building a Website

Mirsa wanted her own platform where people could place orders and learn more about her business, so she built her site, BoardsByMo.com, on the eCommerce platform Shopify and integrated HubSpot so her orders flowed through.

Starting workshops

Mirsa also offered virtual charcuterie board-building workshops as corporate team-building exercises on Zoom. Given the inbound interest, Mirsa began teaching other aspiring charcuterie entrepreneurs how to start their own businesses.

Related: How I Turned My Love for Travel Into a $50k a Month Business

Quitting her 9 to 5 job

After consistently hitting her monthly revenue goals for 6 straight months, Mirsa gained the confidence to leave her stable 9-to-5 job and devote herself entirely to her passion.

You can hear my interview with her about that decision and what happened next here.

Since making the jump and committing to BoardsbyMo, she has seen her Instagram following grow to around 120,000+ followers, 6 times what it was when she was working her office job.

While quitting was nerve-wracking for Mirsa, she set a target revenue that made her comfortable stepping away from the reliability of a steady paycheck.

“It was definitely one of the scariest things I think I’ve ever done,” she said. But by focusing on her revenue goals and passion for charcuterie, she took the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship.

Tapping into B2B opportunities

Mirsa has since expanded her marketing to platforms like LinkedIn. With corporate catering now being a huge part of her business, she uses LinkedIn to target prospects planning large conferences, meetings, and events.

She tries to keep it organic—posting about successes but also being open about challenges.

Leveraging Email marketing strategies

Mirsa’s email newsletters highlight upcoming events like public workshops, special deals, and new product launches.

She considers email marketing critical. “I have a fear that one day all these social media platforms are just going to go away,” she said. Email allows her to stay in touch with her audience.

To drive newsletter signups, Monisha positions BoardsbyMo as a thought leader in charcuterie—offering tips, tricks, and expertise. This provides more value beyond just promoting products.

“It just shows people here’s another local business that you can support and that you can frequent and purchase from later on, she said.

The co-marketing workshops are free exposure events for both businesses involved. Mirsa and her partner coordinate marketing emails to promote the workshop and bring in new audiences.

Diversifying revenue streams

In terms of revenue streams, catering corporate events is now Mirsa’s biggest moneymaker.

“It’s easier to book when people are spending company budgets rather than their own money,” she said.

Workshops are another major stream, including public collaborative workshops and private team-building events.

Drawing on her software sales background, Mirsa created a small business strategy workshop that quickly gained popularity, even being used by Harvard Business School. She fills a gap by helping creative founders sell their passion projects.

She offers charcuterie board workshops and classes through her business. The workshops are available as online courses on Teachable.

The main course is her sales and marketing strategy workshop, which costs $400 individually or $900 as part of a bundle with other courses. It includes pre-recorded videos and a downloadable workbook.

The secret to her success

Asked why her charcuterie business has stood out amongst the many similar cheese plate influencers that popped up in recent years, Mirsa believes the aesthetically pleasing nature of charcuterie boards gives her an automatic advantage on visual platforms like Instagram.

But she says she started adding more behind-the-scenes, day-in-the-life type of content, showing the “not sexy” parts of running her business. She’ll bring followers into the kitchen, cutting huge wheels of cheese for hours, with salami in her hair.

This depicts “a more organic and realistic depiction of what it’s like to be a small business owner,” she said.

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