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Turning passion to profit

15 March 2016 |

  • Failure is ok…initially
  • Don’t discard the boring stuff. 
  • Be brand aware. 
  • Success is not overnight. 

These and several other nuggets of wisdom were imparted at our first networking event of our Gregg Latchams Business Network programme. Over 80 people from the food, drink and hospitality crowd spent their Thursday morning learning how to turn a passion into a commercially viable business with engaging talks from Hawksmoor London, Finance Kitchen and GL Business Consultancy

The Hawksmoor Story

Judging by Will Beckett’s stories of abject failure to success (his words) as he cantered through his early years as a businessman, it’s clear passion fed him more than profit. With four not-for-profit (loss-making) restaurants to his name, serendipity allowed him to strike gold. The idea for a steakhouse came not from the desire to serve the best cuts of meat in town (although that came afterwards) but from circumstance in taking over a former Turkish restaurant that contained a chargrill. Putting his passion for great food and an eating experience to be enjoyed by everyone (customers, staff, suppliers) has meant unpredictable success and expansion for Hawksmoor in the past 5 years. And the business is set for bigger things with a 14,000 square foot restaurant opening at the World Trade Centre in New York next year. Key take homes from Will during his talk included:

  • Do the research then agree or decide if the venture is worthwhile
  • Work out the money then commit
  • If a lawyer tells you to write a business plan, listen to them
  • Get others in to help you with the boring stuff so you can keep and hone your creativity
  • Care about your brand – work hard and be nice.

Getting the money in

So how do you get investors to help turn your dream into a commercial reality? Make it exciting and get a following. According to Ian Woodley, from Finance Kitchen an artisan investment broker, investors love a great concept that is high street-savvy, scalable and able to roll out…fast. And whilst many appreciate a chef’s creative abilities, they can be a nightmare for the money folk – creativity is good if it can cover the costs!

  1. Start-ups need to avoid the pitfalls of not looking at the revenue aspect of your passion.
  2. Bring in specialist partners that can help you and make sure you know what your customer wants.

And what about private equity vs. crowdfunding? Ian says, “Crowdfunding is a weird science that loves restaurants. However private equity views crowdfunding with natural antipathy as this often impacts on valuations.  Try all options and work out which ones suits you best and if crowdfunding is your choice, make sure you build a strong PR campaign to sell the concept. Often investors are willing to look at ratchet agreements with 50% ownership from the outset with increasing owner buyback as the financial benchmarks are met.”

Plan for success

Plan for growth by focusing on your brand to understand how you want to be seen and perceived is vital for any business to succeed. With this opening shot, Aimee Shortman, our head of GL Business Consultancy, took to the floor and explained how the starting point for any business is knowing your target customers, what they are looking for and how they would like to experience it to develop your brand proposition. Aimee also spoke about developing brand values that emotionally connect your customers and your staff to retain revenue and increase referral.

Comment from Julian Pyrke, Gregg Latchams Head of Food, Drink and Hospitality:

“As lawyers, we are known for our love of food and dining so it was a delight to hear from Will about the Hawksmoor story. We also know what makes a business work and how to future proof it from potential failure or slow growth due to lack of compliance and legal breaches. Protecting your business is easy to get right and should be viewed as an investment to bring returns. We work with many start-ups and established food, drink and hospitality businesses, helping them to grow and succeed and seen several that have faltered.  Ignorance is not an excuse!”

To find out more about our In-House Lawyer and food, drink and hospitality services please email Kieren Windsor.  To register for future GL Business Network events, please contact Jo Stevens on 0117 906 9244.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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