Our Businesswoman of the Month for September is award-winning Julie Waddell who came up with a fantastic recipe for smoked humous whilst trying to make healthy food taste amazing for your own young family.
Would you mind giving us a brief explanation of what your business is and when you launched it?
I launched Moorish Smoked Humous in 2012, after a cooking session at home as part of my quest to make healthy food taste amazing for my young family. I realised the one healthy thing the children both liked was humous and I wanted to make it so delicious that they’d happily eat lots of it. They liked smoked cheese and fish so I decided to try smoking chickpeas in a wok (using a James Martin recipe for smoked duck) and then used them in a normal humous recipe. The results were amazing! I had wanted to start a business, so I decided to look into this idea and give it a go.
Why did you start this particular business?
I was working as a journalist on BBC Radio 4’s “The Food Programme” and so did some research on humous. I discovered that it’s a hugely popular product – but lacking in innovation. Armed with this information, and my smoked humous recipe, I decided this could be a great business.
What do you think it takes to succeed in business?
If it’s a product-based business, then having a really great product is the most important starting point. I always say it has to be different or better or, ideally, both.
Then it takes guts, determination, tenacity and drive. You need to believe in yourself and your product, believe that anything is possible and make others believe in it too.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt so far?
Keep the main thing the main thing. In other words, if you’ve got something exciting and that’s working, don’t get distracted by lots of other ideas for things you could do. Make what works as big as you can and keep it alive with focus and effort before jumping on to the next exciting thing.
What do you think it is about you that enabled you to turn an idea into a business?
A great idea, fearlessness, hard work and a sprinkling of luck!
If you were starting all over again tomorrow, what are the top 3 rules you would follow?
- Reach out to people for help and support, advice, information and connections. I was amazed at how willing people were to help me and give me their time once I sold them on the idea and the plan.
- Cash is king.
- Market test your idea to make sure it’s really, realy strong and then protect it as much as you can with strong branding, trademarking, copyright, patent or whatever is possible in your field. A great idea is your biggest asset.
What difficulties did you experience setting up your business?
Cash flow – we had none! People wanted to invest and take equity almost from day one and I had to resist the temptation to go down that road. Much as I needed cash, this was MY idea so I decided to boot strap the business at every stage and keep it as my baby.
Looking back now, would you have done anything differently?
Nothing. It was very hard work – but it worked and I will always be grateful for that.
Starting a business can be all-consuming. As a mum of two, what are your tips for getting the right work/life balance?
You can work full time but flexibly when you’re self employed, in a way that’s just not possible when you’re an employee. But you have to remember to look after yourself as well. I keep weekends sacred and ramp down my workload as much as possible in the school holidays.
Do you have a mentor and when you need advice, who do you talk to?
Yes, I was lucky enough to have the CEO of Gant clothing as my mentor. I read about her in a magazine and contacted her through Linked In.
What are your plans for the future?
Lots of exciting product ideas, specifically for kids. I’m fed up of not being able to find anything healthy for lunch boxes or snacks in the shops and I know many other mums feel the same. So we’re working on something right now that will fill that gap.
Watch this space!
Do you have any specific tips for anyone wanting to start a similar business?
If you get the product right and follow the right steps, it can be done 🙂
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