Anika worked at a financial consultancy firm in The City before setting up Flavours of France, a cooking and wine holiday company, last year. She shares a few things she has learnt along the way…
1) Imposter Syndrome can knock your confidence
Desperate to get a job after uni I applied for everything and anything including a financial consultancy position at a derivatives firm in The City. A couple of weeks after my application, I found out I got the job.
Within six months I was on £30,000 and I was pretty chuffed. But even after being at the company for a year I still had imposter syndrome. I didn’t feel qualified for the projects I was doing and received little training on derivatives, learning what I could from books and on the job. Being out of my depth in a job I had very little interest in was very demoralising.
Since starting up a business I earn less but I am doing something that is more rewarding. I deal with everything from PR and marketing to organising and taking bookings for the cooking holidays.
Overcoming setbacks along the way has increased my confidence – I have learnt things I would never have known if I was still working in The City and I no longer feel like an imposter.
2) It’s ok to quit without a plan
I quit my job without a plan. Being in the corporate environment I could not think creatively. Besides, I wasn’t simply looking for another job I was looking for another lifestyle altogether.
What I did next:
I moved out of my East London flat to live back at home with my mum. I went to start up shows in London and attended workshops where I met lots of entrepreneurs. Being away from the corporate environment changed my thinking and I began looking at everything as a potential business.
It took 6 months for me to research ideas and during this time I did some odd jobs such working at Selfridges. On one shift, I got talking to a guy about his recent internship at a cooking holiday company in Italy. I really liked the concept and naively thought ‘how hard can that be’?
I liked the idea of going on a cooking and wine tasting holiday and was confident that people would be willing to pay for this, plus I had lived in France as a student and love the cuisine. I booked a cheap flight to La Rochelle in February last year, and so began the journey to setting up Flavours of France. With savings and a loan, I started the business. In the summer I set up more holidays in Lyon with a girl I met at my first exhibition.
If I had waited for the multimillion pound idea I would still be working in The City. You don’t need the most unique idea, just enough confidence, drive and passion to keep positive when there are setbacks.
3) Good Things come to those who Wait
When I visited the Poitou Charentes region to look into organising wine tours, I met Christian Chabirand. Christian, along with his wife, left his City job to follow his dream of owning a vineyard and producing 100% organic wine. They bought some land and undertook the mammoth task of creating a vineyard from scratch on virgin soil, pretty much unheard of in the wine industry. That was in 1997. With no pre-existing vine, it took 6 years of faith and hard work until they were able to harvest the first grapes and produce their first vintage in 2003.
The gamble paid off and they now sell their organic wines all over the world. Hearing their story made me realise that success is not instant. At times I get frustrated when things are progressing slowly or when there is a setback.
But then I remember Christian’s story. I have only been doing this for 18 months, who knows what the next 6 years will bring?
- It is up to you to decide what it is you want to learn. Knowing about setting up and running a business is more valuable to me than knowing about derivatives.
- Sometimes you need a change of environment to discover other ways of living and working.
- Be patient, as success comes with hard work and time.