1. Have a set of valuesTwo years ago, when we employed around 50 people, I decided to write down our five main company values. When you’re a fast-growing brand, you’re constantly faced with unexpected challenges and mini crises: a delivery doesn’t arrive on time, for example, or a supplier lets you down. Having a set of values in place brings consistency to every decision that you make. Our five values are:
- Be good to each other;
- Think differently;
- Want to win;
- Be business minded; and
- Be childlike (we try to think like toddlers –they’re eating our food, after all – and have the same boundless imagination).
2. Be a trend-spotterDon’t waste time thinking about your competitors; focus on your customers. More than 20 per cent of our annual marketing budget is spent on understanding families: where they shop; what they cook at home; what products they buy; what pressures mums and dads face. We create our own bespoke data. This helps us to spot gaps in the market, be on top of trends and to launch exciting new products.
3. Let your staff flourishI’ve been to Sweden and the States this week alone. As your business grows, you’ll find yourself spending less and less time in the office. Make peace with that as your job is no longer about the day-to-day running of the business, it’s about inspiring those around you and giving them autonomy. Let them take credit and let them make mistakes. We hired an HR team (we call it a “Keeping People Happy team”) a couple of years ago to help our employees develop their careers. That’s the kind of thing you don’t think about when you’re in the start-up stages.
4. Timing is everythingWhen you’re faced with a decision, rather than focus on “right answer or wrong answer?”, think about “right time or wrong time?” Take our recent sale to Hain Celestial Group, for example, the timing was spot on. Within a week of signing the contract, one of our major US competitors was snapped up. Three weeks later, another was sold. Never underestimate timing! Paul Lindley is the founder of Ella’s Kitchen.
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