This is a guest post by Jules Quinn, the award-winning owner of The *TeaShed – a design led tea, teaware and homeware company born and brewed in Britain.
Last weekend I was invited by the Sage One team at Sage to talk at the Makegood Festival in London as part of their sponsorship.
Makegood is a brilliant event showcasing the graduates from Doug Richard’s School for Creative Startups programme and which runs a variety of seminars and training to help creatives turn their passion into a viable business.
I was asked to take part in ‘The Business of Food’ panel discussion alongside Imran Merza (Jealous Sweets), Fleur Emery (Green & Pleasant), Oli Ashness (Simply Cook) and the multi-talented food writer and TV personality Anjum Anand (The Spice Tailor). The talk was hosted by Frances Quinn, the winner of the Great British Bake Off.
Vanity, sanity and reality
There is a famous saying – “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cashflow is reality” and this is so true! You see huge companies with big turnovers actually not making a profit and who are constantly in the red.
One of the things that I actually believe to be in some ways a benefit to young people in business is that banks, etc won’t lend you huge amounts of money. This means that, although it may take a little longer, you actually have time to grow and learn about your business without risking too much. Obviously you will need some cash but why not prove your business first on a smaller scale? The best way to fund your business is always through sales.
Keeping an eye on what I spend money on and when has without a doubt been a major reason why we are still in business after three years. You have to know how much money is in the bank, when money needs to go out and when you can expect money to come in.
We use Sage One Accounts for this and without it, using just an Excel spreadsheet, I would not have a clear, up-to-date overview of how we are doing. The great thing about Sage One is that it’s online / cloud-based which means that my bookkeeper can login and update our accounts remotely and I can login to see the balance daily. In addition, I can raise new sales invoices on the move, which you need as a start-up as you never get the chance to sit still! (Watch how we work together in our video here).
How important is your USP?
Another question I was asked was “how important is your USP?” Without a doubt your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is important but how different can a USP really be unless you have invented a completely new product or have a very niche untapped market?
I think more important than product USPs are your brand USPs. How are you as a company, why are you doing this – what is your story? Ultimately it’s not a product that you want but a brand.
Once you have your product, story and the infrastructure in place, you can begin your long and very hard journey of running your own business.
It will be a challenge but believe that you can get through it, as when the good bits happen, they outweigh the bad times twice over!