Running a business is no mean feat fraught with trials and tribulations. For the larger entrepreneur it’s safe to assume that they’ve probably experienced a host of challenges in the infancy stage. Hence lessons will be learnt and god forbid, never be repeated. We’re at place which can only be described as floating in the midst of a learning curve whereby we’re not novices, but neither are we experts. There’s still so much to learn but we’ve also acquired knowledge along the way which has proved invaluable.
I vividly recall our very first Supper Club where we’d slaved all day in the kitchen and then spent ages setting the dining table to look as inviting as possible. Cutlery, crockery, napkins, candles and menus were all carefully placed eagerly awaiting our diners. Gerrard and I were excited, poised and ready and as soon as we heard the knock on the door we looked at each other and muttered ‘this is it!’. I opened the door and was surprised to be faced with just one person (not four) who apologised profusely for her lone attendance. The reason was simply that after some deliberation, the group decided that it would be ‘awkward’ to dine in a strangers home and opted for the meal as a takeaway. I was filled with utter disappointment but with a performance worthy of an Oscar I plastered a jolly face instead and replied that I totally understood.
The second booking was more encouraging as the diners actually stayed for the meal! It seemed a perfect evening with them eagerly devouring the food, drinks and conversation flowed merrily and compliments were in abundance. It went so well in fact that they left at 1am with promises of writing great reviews and spreading the word to all their friends. Not only did I never lay eyes on them ever again, there were no reviews or recommendations either!
We refused to be defeated and as they say third time lucky, a lovely couple showed up and not only did they write glowing reviews they returned for more! Since then our Supper Clubs have gone from strength to strength. Being knocked down is tough, and getting back up is even tougher. There were many points near the start where we wondered if we were doing the right thing and if the business would grow. Luckily we followed our guts and stuck with our passion, and are extremely glad we did!
When starting a business, it is difficult to anticipate the rate at which it will grow. Our current challenge is up scaling our jars of sauce with the intention of gracing a supermarket shelf. When we produced our first batch the response was overwhelming but only from our immediate customers and friends. The mammoth task was to introduce them to a wider audience and so we stood in cold, rainy markets shivering to the bone. Some days were good and one particular day was so soul destroying when we only came away with £40. Admittedly the weather was a contributory factor as the wind and rain kept everyone indoors but it’s no consolation.
We quickly scrapped the market concept on the head and decided on only 1 market a month which was Marlow where we still attend to this day. Things then took a positive turn when Warner’s Butchers in Chalfont agreed to stock our jars and now Marlow butchers too! The ultimate reward was winning the the UK Quality Food award (pictured on the right) last year which gave us the encouragement to continue our quest. And so began our work with The Food Business and Development Company (FBDC) who are helping us on our journey.
There is still a long way to go with more challenges on the horizon and the constant worry of losing all our financial investment. Needless to say a venture like this can be a ‘make or break’ and I pray to god that it’s the former. There are times when I think that putting everything on the line might be a totally crazy idea especially when faced with the possibility of living in a caravan should it all go to pot! But I know in my heart of hearts that I couldn’t sit back in my old age and wonder what could have been or be consumed with regret. So we soldier on in the hope that our dreams will become a reality one day soon. I will leave you all with one last message; if you are thinking of starting, or have recently started a business that you are passionate about, don't let the bad days get you down and do what makes you happy!
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