If you’re looking to start or grow a new food business, we have spoken to successful UK business owners who have shared their experiences of setting up the business, the challenges they’ve faced as well as the lessons they’ve learned along the way for people starting out in the industry.
First up we have advice from Carey Davis-Munro, the founder of Sweet Virtues. The company specialises in creating health-conscious food products based on holistic health and wellbeing, which are stocked in department stores including Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I have run various businesses of my own, all born out of my lifelong passion for health, wellness and fitness. It was inevitable that I would concentrate on food having changed my own diet and habits quite radically some 15 years ago and following a course from the Institute of Nutrition. I have idea after idea for businesses and I am lucky now that I have a team around me to manage this and reign me in when necessary.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge has been taking my own recipes from my own kitchen and scaling up production. Letting go and handing over – and then managing this has been the hardest part of all for me.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?
To keep going. There have been many times and many issues where I have thought this is the end. But there is always a way forward if you are prepared to work hard enough and not let go.
Even seemingly unsurmountable problems have a way of working themselves out eventually but it is so important not to let go of the bigger picture and endgame.
What do you differently to your competitors?
Our USPs are very different from competitors. We set out to make the holy grail of chocolate which for me was sugar free, dark, raw, and enriched with super foods to enhance the nutrient value. Our chocolate also contains bio live cultures.
We were first to market with super food chocolate truffles and to be using Maqui berry in our chocolate which is one of the highest rated foods on the ORAC scale. We have even had our truffles tested over and above that which they are required to be to verify a nutrient profile rich in a range of vitamins, fibre, pantothenic acid and zinc.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to start a new business?
Be very clear about what differentiates you from your competitors and ensure that your passion for the business will get you through the hard times. It is not good enough just to have an idea or see a gap in the market and go for it. Unless you have a real feeling for your business, a connection and the BELIEF, then don’t even start!
Basic good housekeeping is also a must although you will be small to begin with; ensure you have all the necessary agreements and protection in place and it worth paying some money to ensure you are covered legally for all you do.
There is also so much advice out there on social media, by joining likeminded groups and signing up to message boards that you can save yourself a lot of money. People who have been through it all before are very willing usually to give you a step up and pass on advice. Networking – as ever, is invaluable!
Continue reading on the next page to find out how one IT worker left his industry for food to mix together the best of Indian and British flavours.
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