“The world of start-ups is brutal”

July 1, 2018, 11:00 am
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Source: Speciality Food Magazine

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, founder of The Black Farmer, walks us through the trials and tribulations of forging and running and food and drink brand

Twelve years ago I had a dream to create my own brand. I wanted to create something different and challenging. I had no formal education and no idea how to run a business so I went on a long search for help and support. That search was fruitless, except that it was an education in what little help is available in the industry for start-ups.

What I learned was that the industry is full of fearmongers who prey on entrepreneurs’ naivety and fear. They are ready to take your money and offer little in return. This industry is peopled with those individuals who have never run their own business, and any success they may have had is of a bygone age and their experience is not relevant to today’s consumer. Entrepreneurs should be far more challenging towards these so-called experts.

I have experienced at first hand how brutal the start-up world is. But my question is, does it need to be so? I have always felt that there is another way and that is why I set up The Hatchery. Many businesses fail within the first year and those that do pass that landmark may not survive to see their fifth birthday. I think the seeds of start-up failure are planted at the very start of a business.

What I am searching for is entrepreneurs with great ideas but, more importantly, what it is in their backgrounds that is driving them and their idea. To stand a chance of succeeding you need to be passionate, almost obsessive, about something. You need to have a feeling of a greater purpose.

At The Hatchery I want to create a collaborative environment where an individual can develop, but they can also see the value in helping and supporting others. What you need in the early stages of your start-up is time and room to make mistakes and for it not to be fatal to your business. What is also needed at this stage are guardian angels, individuals with experience who are able to watch your back.

Tragically, most people only recognise their guardian angel after they have flown by carrying all the opportunities with them. To prevent this happening, from the very early days of a start-up they need to discipline themselves to look around, absorb what is happening, and, more importantly, to look up in order to move forward.

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