Starting a business is hard.
The stories always read, “Well my husband was a chef, I was an accountant, and one day we were eating this wonderful food in a park and thought - why not? So we jacked in our jobs, brought a van and now we tour England feeding the masses”.
Well, I wasn’t an accountant. I have no husband dressed in whites. And those adorable food vans cost about £15k before you’ve even purchased anything else.
The reality is you can’t face the fear and set up the business whilst in a full time job, particularly one that takes 50+ hours of your week as it is, so you bite the bullet and walk away.
Walking away costs money
After the euphoria of taking the dive, congratulating yourself that you’ve done the hard bit and the dream begins here, you realise that ever step you take costs you about £50. So you scrape here and there and use your savings to buy a bit more time. Then you take part time jobs, ad hoc work, but ofcourse they don’t work alongside each other as best you hoped (and what the heck is with minimum wage!) and you spend so much time trying to pay the bills the dream doesn’t even get a look in.
And then you start. Baby steps.
An application for a start up loan.
Hiring someone to make you a website.
Joining NCASS and FSB.
Setting up a business account.
Applying for pitches.
But wait, you can’t apply for a pitch without photos of your product.
But you can’t have photos without a menu.
And they want to know what wattage you need, and are you bringing a generator? But you don’t own any equipment yet so how do you know what wattage?? And events want your food hygiene rating but EHO can’t give you one of those until they see you functioning at an event! And my lord what about accounts - should it be paper or online? SELF ASSESSMENT!
And before you know it you are snatching time here and there to try and piece this thing together, every day throwing you something a little different despite the detailed planning, whilst still trying to remain a good daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, human, dog sitter, house cleaner and any other role that you may take.
And no one can help you. Not really. No one can sit down and do your online training for you to make sure you don’t slice a finger off or blow the stall to pieces. No one can register all your receipts for every mixing bowl you purchased last month or figure out how to set up an online accounting system (5 hours!), fill out all the application forms, keep track of your social media postings or crawl into your brain at 3am in the morning and tell you it’s going to be OK if you just keep going.
No, for the most of it you are alone. And it’s tough to keep motivated and inspired when something that was once a dream feels more like a burden.
Lucky for me self-motivation has never been a problem and being pig-headed (vegan irony!) has always been a perverse strength of mine.
Since October I’ve had my wobbles and doubts and I’ve felt more alone than ever. But there is something, somewhere inside that knows this is the path for me. I have never felt more elated, whether it’s receiving praise from customers or having my social media post shared, the smallest achievements make me feel like my life is complete.
That sense of trusting I am exactly where I am meant to be.
So for anyone thinking of starting a business I would say do it. If it’s the one thing you know will complete your life. Do it. It’ll always be in the back of your head if you don’t.
But don’t believe in fairy tales. It’s a slog, and this is only the beginning, it’s paperwork - lots and lots of paperwork - and thinking, and planning, and multitasking, and learning new skills and a million other things that you will not be prepared for no matter how many books you read.
To the outside world it looks like you spend your days sitting infront of a computer at home and day dreaming a lot.
And make sure you have a good network of people. Because although you have to do this by yourself and it’s only your determination that will make it work, having the people you love support you will be what makes you keep pressing on even when you think you can’t.
The days off they spend peeling sweet potatoes.
The house they let you renovate.
That “I’m proud of you”.
I can honestly say if running the business is half as exhilarating as the set up process - I can’t wait for my future.