This is the headline of the talk that Jo Fairley gives at business events.
And yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing her story and the subsequent Q&A to an audience in The Midlands.
I am going to summarise my key takeaway’s here (whilst I’m sat stuck at a service station next to a stationery M6!) –
- Success in a business can distilled to 4 key areas to focus on –
1. Product / Service – Innovation and design
2. Customer Service
3. PR – send things in the post. Samples if it’s a product or testimonials in a service business.
4. Ethics – Nail these and you’ll do alright!
- People love stories
- She realised they could double the number of products on show on a shelf by making the chocolate read portrait rather than landscape. (What is your 90 degree shift?)
- They still give away bucket loads of samples. They had a limited (£zero) advertising budget in the early days, so would give away a lot of product to everyone and still do. So should you if you can!!!
- Cashflow was the single biggest challenge. They used invoice discounting, which i was surprised at!
- Don’t feel bad if you don’t know your exit strategy. You can miss opportunities if you’re too fixated on one outcome. She didn’t have any idea that Cadbury’s would come looking to buy them up.
- The biggest lesson she learned was to be more strategic. Focus on 1, 2 maybe 3 opportunities. When they first received private equity investment, the first thing they did was to shred the international sales to just the big players. From 1/2 a pallet to Estonia to focus on sending containers to Australia, America, Canada & NZ.
- Change will always be there. She set her business up in the early 90’s recession. Embrace the chaos and try to be the calm eye at the centre of the hurricane. It’s what your staff want to see.
- TLC – look after yourself. She takes supplements, tries to do 10k steps everyday and meditates.
Her big lesson she learned though (and I didn’t write where she got this from!) was as a business owner you need to good with two important tools. With a microscope so you can get the details right in your business. And then with a telescope, so you can see where things are going in the medium to longer term.
These were my key takeaways though. If you have any thoughts or questions on them, let me know and I’ll add detail where needed!