3 Top Business tips from Katie at Paddlesworth Produce

We asked Katie Anderson at Paddlesworth Produce to give us her top tips for anyone starting their own business.

1. Don’t be afraid to fail. As long as you learn something from it, it is not a failure but a lesson! Starting your own business means you have to learn so many new things – accounting, marketing, manufacturing, delivering – the list goes on! So you are bound to make mistakes. It is easy to give up or get down when things don’t go to plan but it has really helped me to write down the lessons I have learnt from each of the many mistakes I have made to ensure that I have actually grown through the process.

2. Start-Up businesses are just trials. When I sat in my kitchen last year and wrote down the idea for my business it did not look anything like what I am doing today. Businesses have to evolve with customer demand and there is no point offering something that people do not want just because you do not want to deviate from your original plan. Recently when I attended an entrepreneur’s course, one thing that really stuck with me was that start-ups should be renamed as “trials” and they should be seen as ways to test the water and check if your business is viable. Don’t invest too much at the start and get caught up trying to work out every individual detail because it is more than likely that things will change so quickly in the first few months that it will have been a waste of your time and money.

3. Network. When I first started my business, “networking” was such a buzzword that I thought it must be a fad I should ignore. In fact it has been one of the best things I have done to improve my business. Even if you are a shy person, there are ways to network online such as LinkedIn and Facebook groups but I would really recommend face to face conversation for the best impact. Most networking meetings I have attended haven’t ended in immediate sales, however they have always been beneficial because they have helped me to gain knowledge, find inspiration, meet contacts and source suppliers. I cannot stress how much networking should be part of your business, even if you just go and moan about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur with other entrepreneurs, it can be a lonely world running your own business don’t isolate yourself! There are tonnes of groups in Kent to join and a quick google search should get the ball rolling.

Here’s the link to her story

Business of the Month

Paddlesworth Produce – Katie Anderson

My business idea began in November 2018, the website launched in January 2019 and the first boxes were sent out this Easter. I started my business because I am really passionate about consumers buying food and drink responsibly – that means knowing where their meal has come from, how meat and eggs are farmed and acknowledging the environmental impact of packaging, waste and food miles.

However I am also a realist, I understand that farmer’s markets or rural farm shops, even high streets, are often inconvenient for shoppers to get to and I am a huge lover of online shopping because it is so simple! Combining my passion and my own shopping habits I came up with the business idea, in the hope that there were other people out there like me – who wanted to support local producers and understand more about what was on the plate but also like to place online orders in their pyjamas on the sofa.

Paddlesworth Produce sells Kentish produce online for home delivery. The produce is sold in complete meal boxes including a Breakfast Box, BBQ Box and Sunday Roast Box. The three boxes can be purchased as a one-off treat, sent as a gift or you can subscribe for regular deliveries. What makes us different is the fact that all of our products are from small businesses within a 30 mile radius, are packaged 100% plastic-free, only contain natural ingredients and are only sourced from high welfare farms.

I feel so proud of every day I get to run this business. My first orders were obviously a very memorable moment because that is when you realise that someone believes in your idea and is happy to support your business with their hard earned cash. I was announced as a finalist in the South East Rural Business Awards this week so that was definitely a huge gold star in my mind! But honestly the most satisfying part of the job is when a customer takes the time to leave me a review or send me an email saying they enjoyed their delivery. It is so easy to criticise and I know we are far more likely to leave a bad review than a good one, but in that moment that person has obviously had such a good experience with my business that they felt the need to let me know, I just love that.

I have really struggled with my pricing, it is an ongoing challenge, because I want my products to be available for everyone! It is such a hard truth to deal with when you set up a business, that you have to find your target market and create products that they will enjoy and spend their money on. It is especially hard as I am so often compared to supermarket prices, when the truth is my products cannot be bought in the supermarket, they are of a completely different calibre. I have had to learn that unless I want to offer an inferior product or create a business that is unsustainable, I do have to make sure I am making a profit not just covering my costs.

In August I am launching the Sunday Roast Box, which is really exciting and something I have had in the back of my mind since the day I launched the Breakfast Box. I am hoping this will be popular because a Sunday Roast is my favourite meal of the week and it is a great opportunity to get the family together and enjoy good food in good company!

In terms of longer term plans, I hope to increase my subscriber numbers and have started offering a bigger discount for regular subscribers to encourage this. I also am desperately searching for local and affordable storage because I now offer a range of optional extras for my boxes such as condiments, sauces, drinks & snacks and need somewhere to put it all!

Read more about Katie’s business on her website: www.paddlesworthproduce.co.uk

Look out on The Kent Foundations social media for Katie’s amazing top tips for new businesses.

The Big Ideas Show

The Big Ideas Show is a weekly video and audio series, exploring ‘The Big Picture’ with creative problem solving, goal setting, leadership and motivation. Based in Folkestone, Kent, they work to bring exciting content, thoughts and creative solutions to you for discussion! They talk to creatives, businesses and individuals about what motivates them to do what they do, and where they draw their inspiration from.

Stuart was invited on The Big Ideas Show to share some thoughts on the subject of asking for help and support. We would love to hear your thoughts on this, whether you agree or not. What are your thoughts?

Does regulation in business need to be complicated?

Sue Harvey works for Kent Trading Standards, in their Business Advice Team. In this blog she’ll give you an introduction to regulation in business plus informs us about what’s on offer for businesses in Kent and Medway from the Better Business for All initiative.

Why do I need to know about regulations?        

Regulations can get a bit of a bad name and can often be seen as ‘red tape‘ but in actual fact they are there to protect and ensure consumers, our communities and businesses are safe and fairly treated. As a business you will have certain responsibilities to meet but there’s also rights to protect you and your business.

  • Getting your regulatory responsibilities wrong not only means that you may end up breaking the law, but it can harm your business reputation and end up costing you more in time/money in the long run.
  • Knowing your rights means you can avoid losing money, for instance giving a refund or losing a deposit when you are not required to, doing unnecessary building work, or buying unnecessary equipment.

It really is best to get it right from the beginning, rather than learning from what could be an expensive mistake, it doesn’t have to be tricky though, all you need to do is ask.

What is Better Business for All?

Kent & Medway, Better Business for All (BBfA) is a partnership between local regulators and businesses. The business partners include Federation of Small Businesses, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Kent and Medway Growth Hub and Produced in Kent.

The regulators included in this initiative are:

  • Building control – for new premises, alterations to your premises or new services and fittings within your premises
  • Environmental health – for food registration and hygiene, health & safety
  • Environment agency – along with local environmental protection teams can advise on pollution and nuisance prevention
  • Fire & rescue – help on fire prevention, fire procedures and firefighting equipment
  • Licensing – you may need a licence for your from serving alcohol, animal breeding and boarding to skin piercing
  • Planning – you may need permission for the use of land and the design of buildings
  • Trading standards – advice on consumer and traders rights, safety of consumer goods, food and animal feed labelling and selling goods by weight or volume

We all want Kent & Medway to enjoy the economic growth that businesses bring.  Making it easier for the good businesses to comply with the law and be successful, means regulators can spend more time tackling the unfair competition from rogue traders.

How can BBfA benefit my business?

We can’t promise to change the law but we are keen to help businesses locally get it right. We do understand how daunting it is; being faced with lots of rules and regulations, especially when you are first setting out. Whether you are just starting to develop your business idea or are up and running, regulators can guide you through what appears a complex web of rules.

Better Business for All provides advice on how the law applies to you and your business helping you find the most cost effective way for your business to comply. To help small businesses in Kent and Medway on offer is:

  • A website to point you in the right direction so you can contact your local regulators in each district or borough council where your business is based, which may be your home address. Contact countywide regulators e.g. Kent Fire & Rescue plus find out about national initiatives and news.

Kent and Medway Better Business for All Regulation BBFA

How to Successfully Start a Local Business

How to Successfully Start a Local Business

Like anything good in life, owning your own business comes with its highs and lows. It can be an extremely rewarding experience – one that may sort you out with a job that you’ll enjoy for the rest of your life – but it isn’t without its struggles. One of the things that people struggle to get to grips with the most is the initial start-up process. Even if it’s something you’ve done in the past, it can prove to be a tricky and sometimes overwhelming task. Even more so with the sheer amount of thriving local businesses in Kent. However, don’t fret just yet. Setting up a business is much easier if you break down the process into steps. The first step in how to successfully start a local business is to start researching your local area, and the businesses within it.

Do your research

We know it’s boring, and that you’re probably itching to get down to the nitty-gritty of starting your business, but research is one of the most important parts of the business start-up process.By now you should have a rough idea of what kind of business venture you wish to begin. It doesn’t have to be a fully formed idea, just something general (for example, a vintage clothing store in Kent).

The three key things you need to research at this point are:

  1. If there is any interest in your local area for your business venture (or if there will be in the near future)
  2. Take a look at the competition (Google is your friend)
  3. Business start-up costs

For the former, it may be wise to conduct a short survey in a shopping centre, ask around friends and family and perhaps create an online version to share on social media. The purpose is to find out what potential customers there might be for your product/service in your local area. if you don’t have customers then you don’t have a business.

If there are already businesses of your kind in your area it could indicate there will be less interest in your business venture. Don’t be discouraged. There’s nothing saying that you can’t start another form of business, or modify your original plan slightly by looking for a unique selling point. Ask yourself why customers will buy from you and not your competitors?

Business start-up costs

A simple list of expenditure and income will suffice to start. What costs will you incur to start the business e.g. equipment, licenses, premises, graphic design etc. What ongoing costs will the business incur e.g. renewal of insurance, licenses, website domains, wages, rent etc.

For your income, you will need to work out what you will charge for your product or service, and how much you will need to sell in order to make your business profitable, not forgetting the costs you have incurred above. You may well have to estimate some of the figures you expect to receive on a month by month basis but why not use this as a target income for your business? More on cashflow and forecasting here…

What next?

Once you’re set on what sort of business you’re looking to start and you’ve completed your research you can begin some of the more formal parts of starting your business

The start-up process for your business is going to vary massively depending on you and your business but as a general guide we have identified some key points below:

  • Name your business
  • Choose a legal structures e.g. sole trader, ltd company and register your business
  • Set up a bank account
  • Set up necessary insurance (You’ll find Public Liability Insurance is essential)
  • Identify National Insurance/ VAT arrangements
  • Register for any licenses that you may need to run your business legitimately. This will vary depending on your business type. For example; you would need to apply for different licenses for charity work, for agricultural work, food preparation etc. because of the nature the work involves.

Some additional thinking points are: How will you promote the business? Website, social media, networking? Where will you run your business from, can you run it from home, do you need an office or retail premises?  Take a look at building your brand so people can identify your business.

There’s a lot to think about and if you’re already feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry; it’s totally normal, break your tasks down in to manageable chunks.

Hiring an employee

Congratulations…You’re now officially a start-up, you’ve put a lot of hard work in and your business is booming. Things are getting a little bit busy, so much so, that you’ve thought about hiring one or two people to help you out. Hiring an employee or two is going to be massively beneficial for you and your business, but it isn’t without a little bit of hard work. So how’s it done?

Before you begin looking for staff, you’re going to have to brush up on your knowledge of employment law (if you haven’t already, that is). Put simply it concerns anything that mediates the relationship between employers, workers, the government, and trade unions. It’s a lot to take in, we know. It concerns everything from employee rights, to what’s included in their employment contract, to how you manage your employees.

First things first; the employment contract.

The contract can be verbal, but it’s always much more professional and convenient to have a typed one that every new employee can sign. It will be much easier to modify should any changes need to be made.

Whatever the nature of the contract, it must set out four key ‘terms’:

  • Employment conditions
  • Rights
  • Responsibilities
  • Duties

Both the employee and employer have to abide by the contract until it ends (this could be for a number of reasons, such as an employee being dismissed, an employee giving notice, or if the terms are mutually changed).

There’s plenty of information available on gov.uk to help you out. If you’re still struggling you can always talk to an employment solicitor or lawyer who will be able to help you look in to the finer details.

That’s not all…

Every business start-up journey is different and we are well aware that we have only just scratched the surface here but we hope you have gained a useful insight and feel better equipped on how to successfully start a local business.

There’s no doubt you will discover many challenges, successes, failures, lessons and fun on your journey in to business. Some you may have expected and some not – You will learn a lot! Take those good times and relish them, be proud of what you have achieved! Also remember in those tougher times and ‘I don’t know’ moments there’s always support available to get you through, whether it’s a solicitor, lawyer, accountant, business adviser, events etc.

We would like to thank Thomson, Snell and Passmore for their input in to this business start-up article. A leading law firm in Kent providing top solicitors and lawyers with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in employment law and redundancy.

Business Networking…What’s the Point?

Business Networking…What’s the Point?

So you’ve decided to bring your ideas to life, you’ve started a business and taken that first step in to a whole new world, so now what…business networking?

What is all this talk about business networking and what use is it to you. You’ve been researching a few events online, none of them seem to make much sense. Plus you have this niggling voice in the back of your head: “What exactly is the point?” “What am I going to get out of it?” “I could be doing something way more productive than chatting to a load of random people”
Well here’s where you might be wrong!

We’ve had a chat with a few successful young entrepreneurs from across Kent and how they have used business networking as a tool on their road to business success:

 Alex Auger – Think Press

I started my business THINK Press from the kitchen at home by myself, I had little to no idea about what networking entailed. Being only 23 my knowledge and access to the right contacts was extremely limited. With no friends or family working in the industry I was starting up in, taking the first steps towards getting the business going was quite daunting.

THINK Press - Cold Pressed JuiceI decided to look locally for some support in starting up, and came across the Kent Foundation ‘A Blast!’ business networking event. It looked like the perfect first step so I signed up. I remember the evening before the event suddenly having that sinking feeling. I had absolutely no idea what ‘networking’ events were like. I quickly printed some business cards onto some card I found at home (cut out by hand!) which made me feel a little more professional, and spent a bit of time Googling. Alas, this wasn’t overly helpful so the next morning I found myself standing outside the event feeling unbelievably nervous about what I was even going to say to people.

These nerves were completely unnecessary as the structure and atmosphere of the event was fantastic. I quickly found I had things in common with lots of the young entrepreneurs that I met. The more experienced business people were also more than willing to give me advice and point me in the direction. I met Paul and Liam who subsequently matched me with my business mentor Matt who has been instrumental to the development of the business, and made lots of other contacts who I have kept in touch with since. This also gave me the confidence to start networking, which was crucial to the start-up phase of the business.

Oliver Trailor, Runway Training

The age old adage of “it’s not what you know but who you know” is of key importance to all businesses and networking gives organisations opportunities to expand their connections, raise brand awareness and generate referrals; all leading to increased opportunities.

Runway Training and ApprenticeshipsAt Runway Training we enjoy business networking at traditional Breakfast events, B2B Exhibitions and after-hours clubs. In addition to this, other events can provide an opportunity to network, show off your products or services and expand knowledge on sector developments. Presence on social media can also help create new connections as well as provide an opportunity for offering advice and your professional opinion on matters, all helping to raise your company profile.

Runway Training utilise networking as an opportunity to reinforce the positives of apprenticeship recruitment and staff development. With many organisations expanding in both business and team members, Runway Training are keen to spread the message about this cost effective way of growing all areas of business.

Amy McManus, AM Marketing

AM Marketing KentBusiness networking is a great tool for any business, but particularly for startups. Budget is often an issue for a new business and networking is a very effective (and inexpensive) type of marketing that gets your brand out there. When I started AM Marketing two years ago, I went to every networking event in the area, and still do! It’s a fantastic way to meet other local business owners and introduce yourself, but most importantly LISTEN. There are so many different people and industries who have a wealth of experience and knowledge to learn from. They can give you a real insight into your own business and potential avenues or products you hadn’t considered.
The beauty of business networking is that it can happen at any point; it’s not always set to a specific time and place. If you talk to someone at a bus stop about your business? That’s networking. When you get into a conversation about your products at a dinner party? That’s networking. Always take business cards out with you; you never know who you’re going to meet!