Valerie is an Esc member looking for a business partner. If anyone fancies coming in to help Wild grow bigger just get in touch with her on Valerie@mywild.co.uk. Here, she writes about her story, prompted by the question, “Could I really do this all over again?”
At 28, a long, long time ago, I launched into setting up a business with my partner. Putting our flat on the line we bought our first restaurant in Primrose Hill and lived above the shop. Several years later we sold up bought a separate flat and in Camden set up another new restaurant, and then 2 years later bought a pub and again did something totally new. Bar Gansa was the 2nd Tapas Bar in London and The Crown and Goose was the second gastro pub in London. 15 years later after a lot of success and a LOT of hard work we sold both and both venues are still in operation today in exactly the same way that we set them up.
I needed a change and looking around for something different found inspiration for several years in the charity sector working with families and children who were going through hard times. It was work that involved a lot of personal development but before long that urge to run my own business started to niggle away at me again. I started to look around but nothing was really sticking until I took a nostalgic trip back to Kenya where I spent my early childhood.
Talking to conservationists, visiting some women’s collectives where Cape Chestnut seeds and Baobab fruits were harvested and processed for their oils led directly to the decision to try to create from these oils, products that would appeal to the western markets.
But the big question in my head was – could I really do this all over again? At my age shouldn’t I just be playing safe, gently drifting towards retirement?
Well, of course not! I made a list, like you do, of for’s and against’s and I think the against’s probably outweighed the for’s but I went ahead and did it anyway! So for any of you out there who might not be in your first flush of youth, who find the term “start up” slightly embarrassing this blog post is for you – there are five arguments I had with myself.
1. I didn’t really have the energy any more.
But I did have experience and knew what my strengths and weaknesses were and I would enjoy the adrenalin that the risk would bring on.
2. I just didn’t have the time, 5 -10 years, to grow a proper business.
But wasn’t it really about the journey rather than the final goal? Did I really want to spend the next ten years bored?
3. Did I really want to take a hit in income?
But – my children were now both grown up and earning, I could sustain myself for a couple of years so what was I waiting for – I hadn’t been so responsibility-free in years!
4. It was a completely new field for me, I knew very little about beauty products or the industry.
But I could learn and enjoy the learning and besides I was a consumer wasn’t I? I knew what women of my age wanted and had access to a whole other generation through my children. I also knew so many more people to turn to for advice and guidance than I did when I was in my 20s.
5. I didn’t have someone to partner up on this venture.
Actually – I have no counter argument for this one! I have come a long way but still feel I could go further, quicker, if I had a like minded partner.
So if any of you wannabe escapees fancy coming in to help Wild grow bigger just get in touch!