Starting a new small business takes a leap of faith – and this worked for these two friends-turned-entrepreneurs. Passion and strategy counts for new business owners, they say: “What we lacked in knowledge, we made up for in our eagerness to learn.”
Long-time friends Mr Sylvan Spatarel and Mr Ben Thompson were inspired by a shared desire to create their own path in life. So they turned their backs on jobs with large corporates and invested their savings in a new hospitality venture serving fresh, pan-cooked pasta that are made to-order.
Having grown that venture into a $3 million-dollar business in three years, they share their tips for creating a successful start-up here.
1. Product first, passion second
“Having a sound business strategy and identifying a gap in the market far outweighed our passion for pasta in the beginning. For us, it was always a matter of ensuring the business strategy was sound as was getting the product right, rather than following our number one passion,” said Spatarel.
He added: “It just so happened that we both love food and we are both into fitness so our product and passion aligned; but that might not be the case for all great business ideas.”
2. Take calculated risks
“We have always taken risks when it comes to selecting our locations, choosing to look to the future in a more strategic approach rather than weigh up a location based on its current foot traffic alone,” said Thompson.
“These calculated risks seemed to have paid off in the long term for us. It allowed us to beat the market to certain locations, which has ensured we can negotiate great lease terms with a long-term outlook,” said Thompson.
3. Take a leap of faith
“Neither of us were experienced in the business end of hospitality when we first started out, but what we lacked in knowledge, we made up for in our eagerness to learn. You are never truly ready to start a business from scratch so there’s no time like the present to jump right in and back yourself,” said Spatarel.
4. Never stop refining your brand and adapting to market trends
According to Thompson, one of the biggest things they have learned is to listen to customers and adapt quickly to new consumer trends. “It’s a fine balance between staying true to your vision and being responsive to your costumers. So being able to manage these two (sometimes) conflicting elements is key,” he said.
“This means we can stay ahead of the market rather than become stale, at which point it becomes harder to innovate and re-connect with customers. Reinvention in this industry is key among so much competition so we are always refining our brand and our offering in order to provide what our customer wants,” said Thompson.
5. Reinvest in the business early on
“When the business started to make some money, we could have easily started to enjoy more of the benefits with larger wages; however, we decided to reinvest the earnings back into the business which has provided us with more leverage for expansion into new locations. We now have four locations in three years, which over time will allow us to be in a better cash position than if we had started to enjoy the fruits of our labour earlier on,” said Spatarel.
Inside Small Business