Paul Hargreaves is the chief executive of Cotswold Fayre a specialist fine food wholesaler.

“A reality check”

I was encouraged to see so many start-up food businesses represented at the Bread & Jam Festival last week. My Last Word article in this month’s Speciality Food Magazine reflects more on the sheer numbers coming into the industry at present

Perhaps due to the culture of instant gratification, I felt I had to start my talk with a reality check. 1) Probably around 80% of the businesses represented will fail. 2) Those that do survive will struggle to reach revenues of more than £500k and 3) crowd-funding or other funding success does not guarantee business success. The key to failure, as the old adage goes is to “fail fast and fail often” not wasting too much time or money and come back for another go.

There are success stories of very quick success, but even with these, the success part of the story is often preceded by a failure story not often told. And sometimes the impression given is that everything dropped into place, whereas actually a load of hard work was involved. It is easy to think that these success stories are lucky, but more often “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Thanks to Senaca, a Roman philosopher for that quote which reminds us that often it is years of preparation that means that we are in exactly the right place when an opportunity comes along.

More recently, Gary Player, a South African golfer said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get”. In golf that referred to hours and hours of practice and sacrifice. I was struck by two entrepreneurs on Friday, who talked of the times when rather than going out socialising with their friends they were preparing for consumer tastings events or travelling around the country selling their products. Their hard work and sacrifice, I have no doubt, will be rewarded. And this is a lesson for us all, sacrifice, hard work and set-backs will all come before tremendous success.

Keep on keeping on!

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