What does your company do? What products services does it provide? 
We make high-end sweet and savoury condiments. All are based on family recipes, and they sing with taste and flavour; we don’t use artificial colours, flavours or additives.

Where did the idea for your business come from?
My son, then aged 11, decided to set up a stall outside our house selling our special family dressing – an unusual oil free recipe of my great grandmother’s which has passed down the generations. Two hours later he came back inside saying “I’ve sold out and made £76!” And so we started selling it at farmers’ markets and local shops, with great success.

When did you start up, and what support were you given?
The business was properly set up in April 2012. We put in some of our own savings to get it going, and then further funding through friends and family, and a Local Enterprise Partnership grant in 2014 has helped us to grow the business.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Our biggest achievement was winning our first order from a major UK retailer. This order was more than our first year’s turnover, and we are really thrilled to have been chosen along with a select group of other small British food producers.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Managing the finances and juggling cashflow. We need a lot of working capital to fund our stock as we now have 25 products in the range.

How would you say you differentiate yourself from the competition?
We avoid using emulsifiers, additives, colours and flavours. We use local and British ingredients where possible, and we don’t compromise on the tastes and flavour combinations. Quirky, bold branding helps our products stand out on the shelf, and we provide lots of recipe suggestions for both stockists and consumers.

What has been the best decision you have made to-date?
Not signing up to exclusivity with any our customers, and to concentrate our efforts in the independent market, where good quality fine food is an important consideration.

Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?
In 12 months’ time, we will have grown the business so that our products are widely available in independent food retailers across the UK, and we will be in several export markets.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

  1. Research – Do your research – make sure your idea will work!  Have you got a USP?  What’s your point of difference?  And do you LOVE it and really believe in it?  Because it’s much harder if you don’t.
  1. Persistence and determination – The two key qualities needed to get a business off the ground. You will need to put in a lot of hard work, long hours and energy for the first 2-3 years with little payback – you will discover that there is not enough time in the day.  I’ve actually recently contributed this advice to a new business guide from the Business is GREAT campaign. You can see my advice and more by downloading the guide at http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/The-GREAT-way-to-grow1.pdf
  1. Money – Manage your finances with a fine tooth comb right from the start. Even if you’re not doing it to make money, you’ve got to make sure it’s viable – 9 out of 10 businesses fail because margins haven’t been established and costs analysed.  Write yourself a good business plan and remember that starting a new business takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think it will.
  1. People – Get a good team around you – people whose opinion you value.  Mentors are great, and experienced entrepreneurs/business people are usually more than happy to give advice.
  1. Funding – Search out the many grants and government loans available for start ups, and take advantage of the amazing SEIS scheme if you’ve got friends and family who want to put in some money.
  1. Social Media – Get your social media channels set up right from the start. They are free and have a great reach, and you can do them at the oddest times – in the car, on the train, on a walk, in the bath, for 20 minutes in bed before you go to sleep at night.

What do you find most satisfying about running a business?
It’s incredibly rewarding, and great fun. Something exciting happens every day, and being a small and effective team means we can react quickly, make fast decisions, and be really creative. The fact that my husband and I co-own the business also means we have total control over what we do and where the business goes.