innocent smoothies sure do put on a good event. As part of their innocent inspires series, I was invited to Fruit Towers to attend the ‘be your own boss’ evening. The evening promised to be a good one – with speakers such as Richard Reed (one of my heroes), Sophie Cornish of notonthehighstreet.com, Martin Morales owner of hot new London restaurant Ceviche, and many more!
In a typically innocent laid back affair, each speaker was invited to chat about their experiences in starting their own business from scratch and share anecdotes and lessons from their journeys. The room was full of budding entrepreneurs – from people who have started their own businesses to those with just an itch to work for themselves, but no business ideas as yet.
One thing that struck me about each speaker is the passion they each had for sticking with their ideas, not giving up and doing whatever it takes to get that business going.
Sophie Cornish said she wanted to be her own boss because she wanted a great working life on her own terms.
Martin Morales confessed he pitched the Peruvian restaurant idea 300 times, and had to sell his house before he could purchase the space for Ceviche on Frith Street in Soho.
All clearly had a strong desire to make a success of their ideas. Richard Reed said it is definitely worth setting up your own business, and you can do it, even when it gets tough.
Eben Upton of Raspberry Pi said focus on what you do well – and agreed with jewellery designer Bec Astley Clarke that it’s all about the implementation of your business not necessarily the idea.
‘You need the will and the skill, but the will must be stronger than the skill’ added Morales.
A theme that came up a few times, particularly after questions from the audience, was that there is never a right time to start your own business. Like many things in life, you will always be able to think of hundreds of excuses. All the business owners advised the audience to just do it – as there will never be a right time. Even if it’s just a side project while you are working full time.
innocent actually encourage this too, and a few of the current employees were promoting their side-businesses on stands in a marketplace area of Fruit Towers, including the yummy Sweetcheeks cakes. Infact, some innocent employees have left the business to start their own ventures, something which Reed and co are proud of and encourage. The likes of Popchips, Peppersmiths and Scandikitchen all worked at innocent at some time in the careers, and obviously build enough confidence and skills to venture into the big world themselves.
The founding guys behind innocent are set to start their own venture fund Jam Jar Investments this year. £2 million is initially being set aside, with an aim to invest £50,000 to £250,000 in each start-up they pick.
Reed is obviously a huge fan of entrepreneurialism - and rightly so, judging by the enthusiasm and excitement for new business in that room at Fruit Towers last week!
Thanks to Felicity for the photo, and to Richard for signing my innocent boo