Building a business is not always easy. There are so many things to think about, decisions to make and the pressure can cause you to make poor decisions that can hurt your potential for success or set you back. Over the 18 years I spent building my home delivery business Eat Fit Food I made many mistakes, money was made, money was lost and the learnings were tough but extremely powerful. I wanted to share my experiences with you in the hope it may save you from making the same mistakes I did.
# 1 – Building a custom website + end to end operating system.
This was attempted numerous times and failed numerous times. Over time the business invested and lost 500K plus. Lesson – when scaling your business your product may need to be simplified to accommodate with the larger scale, keep things simple and don’t over complicate them unnecessarily.
2 – Losing focus when becoming a Mum.
When I had my first baby Harper, my business was flying. I moved to the country to create the next evolving stage of the business Eat Fit Farm, growing organic fruit and vegetables to go directly into the meals. I handed over the running of the company to others and completely lost focus on the home delivery side of the business. Then pretty much over night the home delivery market was flooded, big companies, massive marketing budgets and cheaper prices. Lesson – Never take your focus off your business, especially when it’s doing well. Put effective strategies in place so you are across everything even when you have little ones to look after or may be experiencing motherhood for the first time.
3 – Scaling requires capital
My last year at Eat Fit Food the business was growing rapidly. We were already preparing 10,000 meals a week and this was planned to double within 6 months with new contacts for healthy meals everyone could afford in Caltex (The Foodary) Harris Farm. They were on board all I needed to do was refine the product and deliver according to their expectations. I completely unestimated the cost of this process, new products tried and tested, amendments to the kitchen for mass production, marketing costs and lets not forget the delay of receiving payment from these companies as well as return of goods not sold which you have to pay for. The result, I ran out of money fast and put an extreme strain on the rest of the business. Lesson – Ensure you know exactly what you are getting into, what will it involved and how will it will effect your current business model. Read the fine print in the contracts, calculate the funds required with a buffer and have investor’s ready to go if you need them.
# 4 – Employing staff in the early years
In the initial stages of the business I employed the wrong people, I was inexperienced had never managed people before and thought everyone had to be my friend. When the business expanded into Melbourne I found myself managing 50 staff. I will never forget one night in the first few years my head chef at the time was drunk and stole the van to go on a rampage around Sydney. It ended with a terrible crash, he luckily survived but the van was written off. My skills then for employing people were definitely not on point. As the years went on it got easier and with experience my skills got better. Lesson – Upskill your hiring skills, use your intuition. If they are not right from the start then usually are not the right fit. Who best fit’s you company culture? Hire people who are experts in their field and add value to your business. The right people make your job easier and allow you to grow faster and more efficiently.
# 5 – Investing money in ideas or products that will not work
It’s easy as an entrepreneur to get carried away with the exciting part of creating. That is what we do best and why we are entrepreneurs. I am completely guilty of this on so many levels. I started with a home delivery business delivering 10,000 meals across two cities then moved onto building from scratch with no previous farming knowledge a 100 acre organic farm to grow the vege’s for the home delivery business. Next was a magical catering business @littlemagicfeast and attempted to scale the home delivery meals into the mass market around Australia. Yep that’s me, that’s what I did as well as squeezing out three babies all within 2.5 years. Would I change any of this, no because I have learnt so much but what I would change is the way I did it. Lesson – Master one thing at a time, don’t put your focus onto to many projects at one time. Invest small amounts, research + test your product until you know that it has a solid market then up the investment.