Jon Barfoot, Co-Founder, Vegbred – A 100% natural bread made with fresh sweet potato
Growing a business is always a challenge. From having that initial business idea at the kitchen table to then having the determination and drive to carry it forward is naturally a daunting process. However, 6 months in to our Vegbred journey, we can wholeheartedly say the juice is definitely worth the squeeze.
That being said…there still remains a long way to go and growth is continuously on our minds. We started to develop Vegbred in 2017 with the aim of shaking up the baked goods market and haven’t looked back since. However, the road to growth is never a smooth one and one of the reasons we find running a business so exciting. You can never pre-empt what might happen next.
Brainstorming new ideas and innovative new bread flavours and ways to continue momentum…all while juggling family life with three little ones…definitely adds to the challenge.
‘Grow Your Business’ Formula
One would like to think there were constructs and rules to growing a brand. We often think ‘if only there was a formula’…or perhaps ’keys to success’ as so many business books sometimes profess. The reality is somewhat different. There are no keys to success. Instead, to start your business, which you must do before you grow your business, it’s about adopting a mind-set, putting a flag in it and being determined to get there. It can occasionally feel like hanging on for dear life itself as the roller coaster of emotions trundles onward.
Therefore, we wanted to take a minute and break down the process to provide other budding entrepreneurs or future start-ups with some first-hand guidance that we wish we had been given before we embarked on our vegetable journey.
So, let’s break that down. No matter what your idea is (as everyone has at least one good idea inside them) it’s about making that idea happen. It is about taking action and committing. No dangling toes in the water as unless you’re fully immersed and willing to ride the rollercoaster, don’t do it. The curve of emotional learning is immense when you go it alone and whether you come from years in a corporation or are taking your first steps in business as a sole trader, it is going to take you out of your comfort zone and make you respect those that have done it successfully even more so.
Celebrate the Pursuit
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and losing every day. But you must celebrate the pursuit –trying to succeed is the most exciting part. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn and rejoice in your wins along the way no matter how big or small. This attitude allows you to be more creative about the process and with time will ensure better results.
The best advice I have ever been given is: “A true entrepreneur fails every day and it’s what they do with that failure that determines success.”
Talk the Talk
Your business plan is everything, but it doesn’t have to be perfect first time round or the time after that for that matter. It should be considered a ‘work in progress’ that is ever changing and evolving to adapt to the realities of the challenge.
A business idea in its first stages in conceptual. You have nothing real; no finished product and no customers therefore all the facts and figures are hypothetical. Writing the plan takes your original concept out of your head and collates it on paper. As you begin to write it, model the constructs and posit it the outcomes, it becomes the foundation which you can build on.
You should always be working on your plan! Get hold of a Profit and Loss (P&L) template and input the numbers in over a forecasted time period. keep challenging it, breaking it down and remodelling. As you find out more it will give you huge confidence and literacy to discuss with partners, investors and customers.
Planning the Strategy
Don’t confuse your strategy with your plan. Strategy is an outcome; a destination, a future construct of what you are going to achieve such as going for growth or new product development. The plan is what delivers it and allows you to keep track.
Early stage strategy is all about feasibility. It then moves on to start-up territory, such as market positioning and even making some profits. The next stage is growth, driving and building the business as your share of the market increases. Once at this stage, your skills/competencies enable innovation to ‘pivot’ and develop further products and services that make you more competitive. This might mean reinvesting your profits or winning more investment to pay for the costs that will enable you to reach the next level, such as hiring exceptional people or purchasing new equipment. Which are very exciting decisions to make.
Ultimately there are many ways of ‘slicing a potato’, and growing a business is no different. We hope our Vegbred experience and the above pointers help provide a little bit of a steer to help boost the entrepreneurial drive of the UK and give people the confidence to take that idea and grow it into a flourishing business.