Get the inside info from Hesper Farm about their experience of setting up a business;

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WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 5 TIPS FOR SETTING UP A BUSINESS? 

1.    If you’re starting a food business especially make sure branding is good from the start, it’s worth paying a bit more for a good service as this is effectively the first thing potential customers will see.

2.    Make your business as easy as possible to do business with, for example we made sure we had barcodes on all our products from the start, we also had the accreditation that’s required by supermarkets at the start.

3.    If I started again I would have asked for more money in the beginning because regardless of how well you budgeted there will always be unexpected costs.

4.    Research your market thoroughly, not only for peace of mind for your investor but so that you are aware of the trends in the market place and you can really show that your product will meet a demand.

5.    If your business has ambitions to be national one day then I would set up your internal systems to reflect that from day 1, otherwise you will have to do a complete overhaul at some point and it’s a lot harder then.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?

My biggest mistake (so far) was miscalculating rate of sale to a buyer which resulted in me being stocked in less stores at the beginning, which then meant that I had to negotiate to get in to more stores that I could of been in from the start. What I learnt is that always double check you figure’s and if your still not sure ask someone to look over them to see if it makes sense.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST DAY IN BUSINESS SO FAR?

Probably when we got into booths because that was the first supermarket to stock us and at the time the business was young and it felt massive.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR WORST DAY IN BUSINESS SO FAR?

In the last year we have been reinvesting in the Skyr business and we have had lots of issues installing machinery that have caused me some big problems, so there have been a few days where it’s been difficult.

 

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS?

I want our Skyr to be available all over the UK because I genuinely believe that we make the best Skyr, using authentic methods and importantly British milk.

 

HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK DO YOU WORK? HAVE YOU FOUND THE PERFECT WORK/LIFE BALANCE?

Probably 75+ hours on average a week I think, but the hours don't bother me really, I much prefer an early morning. I don't think I’ve found the right balance yet, I think I’ve sacrificed a lot of things I enjoy and I hope to start doing some of those things again as the business grows.

 

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU KNEW BEFORE STARTING THE BUSINESS THAT YOU KNOW NOW?

I wish I had sourced finance in a different way, as opposed to the bank, I know now that I defiantly had other options.

 

DID YOU START WITH A BUSINESS PLAN?  HAS IT WORKED AND DO YOU HAVE ONE NOW?

I did start with a business plan and marketing plan, I have one now as well but I see them as more of a rough guide. There helpful for me because I use them to put my thoughts onto paper and properly work out what I thinks best for the business.

 

WHAT ARE YOU EXCITED FOR IN THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS?

I’m excited to see where Hesper Farm Skyr can go, I know we have a good product it’s just about how we invest and the opportunities that we make.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR CONCERNS FOR THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS?

The food retail market is incredibly competitive and we are at times drastically underfunded for our ambitions, so ensuring we keep progressing at a good pace is my main concern.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST UNEXPECTED COST OF RUNNING A BUSINESS?

Installing a steam boiler last year, there were so many problems, it nearly put us out of business because we had a company handling it and they let us down.

 

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF RUNNING A BUSINESS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE?

Logistics is defiantly a challenge, especially because we make a chilled product. This is something that we are going to have issues with for the foreseeable future.

 

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT RUNNING A RURAL BUSINESS?

We run a business on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales so obviously there’s times when you can appreciate your surroundings, if we were on an industrial estate we defiantly wouldn't have that.

 

Katie Brewer