Pinch me, I'm an Entrepreneur
When you look up what does it take to become successful entrepreneur, it reads that you need to; (1) be a problem solver, (2) a creative, (3) the ability to learn from other, (4) take risks and most importantly (5) to live passionately. Whilst I agree with each of these points, I believe that being an entrepreneur is so much more than that.
I think that we sometimes spend so long reading what it means to be an entrepreneur that we forget the fundamental basics of what entrepreneurship means.
From someone that has done a lot of internships and gained work experience, I found that there is nothing quite like starting your company - no matter how big or small it is. It just teaches you things that you can't fully learn in the classroom let alone apply. So, I wrote this post to give you guys the low down on my experience, because it is easy to read success stories or at the other extreme absolute horror stories but rarely do you get to go along for the ride when a business is just starting out.
I don't know what the future holds for my business (It is called Soma's Lemon Curd btw! Pronounced Summer's), but I hope that you enjoy this series of posts that I will put up documenting my journey. Check out my social media handles @somashomemade on Instagram and Twitter.
Some of you may know already know that this May I took the plunge and went about starting my own business making homemade organic lemon curd.
I know it sounds very random and I never pegged myself as a foodie, but it it honestly a venture that has given me so much joy over the past couple of months. There is no better feeling than having people appreciate and buy something that you have made and believe in, each sale honestly feels like a little win, another person that believes in you (I genuinely did a little fist pump into the air each time someone bought my product).
I probably ought to given you a little context before gushing about entrepreneurship right? Well it all started really randomly. My Grandma has been making lemon curd for the longest time and it never, ever last very long in my house two to three days tops! At this point some of you are probably wondering, 'what the f**k is lemon curd?!' haha, well it's a preserve that you use in very much the same way as jam but a lot more delicious.
So that's how I got the idea to make lemon curd, I thought if we all love it then surely other people will too right?!
Because of my interest in sustainability, I really wanted to focus on making a product that tasted good and did good. So I ensured that all my products were organic and fair trade so that people knew that by buying my lemon curd they were helping farmers both locally and abroad.
Whilst this all sounds very nice and straight forward, I will tell you know that the process was not easy in the slightest!!
Finding the right balance between the ingredients, trying different brands to see which combinations provided the best taste, tweaking ingredients by the smallest fractions to try and get the taste just right - it was tiresome!! At one point my kitchen was littered with loads of jars of lemon curd, each numbered by which batch they were from. It took me 7 tries which actually isn't as bad as it sounds to get the recipe right, but I knew I couldn't go forward with a subpar product and expect people to buy it if even I thought that it could taste better.
Then the hard part came, trying to convince others that my product, something that I believed in massively was worth them spending their time tasting and purchasing.
I started out by going to cafes. I went bright eyed and bushy tailed with my bag stuffed with samples and tasty breads for managers to try it on only to face constant rejection and it was HARD. Out of the 40 cafes I went to, only 3 considered me .... THREE! That is a 7.5% success rate which for someone like me who strongly believes that hard work equals success, this was a very pill to swallow and pretty shitty.
Naturally, I was dishearten... I mean who wouldn't be but I didnt let myself mope around for too long, instead I took a step back and explored my options.
I googled like a crazy person on how else I could get my product out there, looking at other people stories, going on forums, looking at start up websites and when I eventually came to conclusion that my next step would be to try out market stalls, I googled the crap out of those too.
From getting the right licensing, to insurance to filling out various application forms (I now have a new found respect for market traders!) it definitely something that you figure out as you go along. Luckily, everyone is really nice and when you do call people and ask for their advice they are more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Love Wimbledon market was the first place to give me a chance, something that I will forever be grateful for.
I remember on my first day manning my market stall, I turned to my friend and was like 'If I even sell one jar today, I will be so happy' so I couldn't have asked for anything more when I ended up selling out on my first day and on my second too! Honestly, nothing beats that feeling! And although it is hard and it is a lot of work, on my first night I was awake until 2 am making lemon curd and weeks before that bundled with nerves worrying that people may not like my product it has all been worth it.
I know that each day may not be as successful, some days no one may take an interest or I may even receive some criticism but you know what Im ready for all that and I honestly think that this experience is one that will shape my character forever.
Although I am still in the early stages and have a long way to go, I am really excited to know where this will take me! I don't think that I can sit here and say to you guys, 'ok so based on my entrepreneurial experience this is what it takes to makes a good entrepreneur' to be honest I don't think that anybody can thoroughly explain this because each experience is different. Ofcourse there are some generic things that I can spout out or you could simply Google, but I think most importantly you have to have the courage to take the plunge and believe that no matter what happens you should it will a positive experience.
The determination to get your product just right teaches you perseverance, the rejection teaches makes you develop a tough skin, starting something form absolute scratch develops your accounting, organisational and communication, promoting your product every Tom, Dick and Harry gives you a confidence boost like nothing you could ever imagine.
I remember vividly stating outside a cafe once, lemon curd in hand literally shaking with nerves that I had to call my brother for a pep talk unless I would have literally walked away and gone home. Walking into the cafe which was packed btw, I remember thinking 'omg everyone can hear what I'm saying, they are probably thinking I'm such an idiot for trying to sell my product here' that my voice came out like a squeak when talking to the manager that she could barely hear me. I was so embarrassed and nervous that I wanted leave as soon as possible.
Whilst that feeling was horrendous, it was necessary. Only by doing it over and over again will you eventually be able to overcome that and think do you know what 'I'm going to go in there and kick ass, and if they don't like my product someone else will'.
I read somewhere once that 'anything worth having is never easy' and I think that there is no truer saying than that. With our generation we are so used getting things quickly that when we run onto an obstacle or aren't an overnight success, we quickly give up. We tend to gloss over all the not so pretty details and struggles that got many of the people that we admire to where they are today.
Although I have no clue where my lemon curd business will take me or how it will expand, I am going to share every single happy and sad moment with you because I think that it is important that we don't absently minded take in the concept that success doesn't come easy and dismiss it, but instead truly understand it.