I came across a great article in the all-new Evening Standard (now available gratis) this week. It featured one of our great country’s most high-profile businessmen, James Averdieck, whose more notable achievements include founding chocolate pud company Gü, selling it to Noble Foods this month for an estimated £35m, and, perhaps most thrilling of all for him, appearing as guest speaker at FreshMinds’ Ones to Watch ™ alumni party in 2008. Averdieck was talking about his secrets for success, particularly in the context of being an entrepreneur. Since innovation in business is set to flourish as we pull (slowly) out of recession this year, I thought I’d share a few of these with you business gurus of the next decade:
Experience is key
Despite studying Economics at University, James doesn’t think you can ‘learn’ business – for him, it’s all about gaining industry exposure and sharpening your numeracy skills.
Convince your buyers
James recommends meeting with potential customers (in his case, supermarket buyers) in person, and having a really thorough business plan mapped out (think of the cringe-inducing gaps in knowledge you sometimes see on Dragon’s Den: don’t make the same mistake). He also highlights the importance of getting opinion-formers on board – Gü were lucky enough to count on Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat) and Nigella Lawson as advocates.
Get the bank on board
Banks don’t like risk, so James recommends putting together a clear business case with a detailed trading history showing an ability to self-finance. Gü started out as a joint venture with an existing company, which may have helped to reduce perceived risk.
Think about the right media
Interestingly, James doesn’t see the Internet as fundamental to their success, but sees digital marketing as a ‘nice to have’. As he puts it, the food came first, ‘our Facebook fan page came later’.
Get the brand right
James attributes much of Gü’s strong performance to having a great brand. They worked with Big Fish design agency to come up with the name, and had a clear vision from the outset of a product characterised by French patisserie high quality.
Also in his recipe for success? A big dollop of luck…