Bring it to the Boyle
Your chance to ask Simon a question
1st question - doesn't show Keep
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Where did you train to be a chef?
I was lucky enough to be hand-picked by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts to train on their Specialists Chef Course, where I did a four-year course with six months at Bournemouth College and 6 months at The Savoy Hotel in London. You may read more about my career here.
Have you written any books?
Yes, I’ve written cookbooks and How-to books for young people. You may read about them here.
Do you have any advice for a social enterprise start-up?
Firstly, thank you; the world needs more people like you.
Every business is different. However, I have learned from many cuts and bruises along my journey, and it’s a pleasure to share these, so you do not make the same mistakes.
Firstly your idea for the business is not the social impact you wish to create. Therefore,
Develop a fantastic business idea that is unique and achievable and something that you believe your customer base needs and wants to purchase. They won’t buy your product or service just purely based on your desire to change people’s lives. Or they may once! It should be fantastic, value for money or provide a particular user solution.
Create a business plan. I refused to do one for years, believing I knew exactly what people wanted and needed. I was very much mistaken. But I learnt and discovered this quickly.
I have written a few now, and they force you to answer the questions that every business should know the answers to and what gaps there are in your knowledge to build a successful company, social or otherwise.
Food is a severe category depending on who is manufacturing or producing and how you aim to sell. Margins for retailers in food are crazy high, sometimes 40% making it very difficult to make money which has a knock-on effect on your social aims.
Think about all aspects and spend time researching the answers, so you know in your head and your heart that you have done the work. Investors and or banks will want to have faith in you, and the business plan is the best tool to give them confidence in your concept.
The social entrepreneurs biggest flaw is concentrating on social value and not the viability of the business. I have been guilty of this.
I get to see many people in your position who come with some pre-work done which is useful, so we have this as a starting point, especially if you have a product; it’s always right to experience what you are trying to sell.
Check out the school for social entrepreneurs and Social Enterprise UK, both fantastic organisations, and go to your bank for their business plan template.
Lastly, I always say this. Building a business, social or otherwise, should be fun. It should not burn you out, and it should not exclude you from the family activity. Life is so short, and you can’t let it take over your life. If you do allow it, you aren’t running it correctly.