“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
– Steve Jobs, Co-Founder and former CEO Apple
There are those who dream of being at the helm of a billion pound “Unicorn” – the Facebooks of this world – and those who simply want to make their hobby more than just a pastime. Whichever camp you’re in, you’ve no doubt asked yourself many questions, including: How risky is it? How hard will it be to become successful? And, perhaps most importantly; How will it change my life?
Building a business is not an easy road to career satisfaction or happiness, by any means. With a typical startup lifecycle reaching maturity at around 5 years, on average, the serious budding entrepreneur should be prepared to shelve all other plans for a while and focus solely on the task at hand. Charlotte Traynor and Will Faulds, founders of natural drinks company; Apple Orphanage, did just that. A few years ago they left the city to head for The Isle of Man, where they embarked on setting up shop in a barn that they painstakingly renovated themselves. Producing on a small scale, with a little help from their local community and a friendly Fruit Exchange scheme, they began in earnest. The vision behind their endeavours was, as Charlotte puts it; “A love of something we had started to do as a hobby… until we really saw the potential for it to work on a larger scale. It was the kind of enterprise we wanted to see more of, so thought why not just set up and do it ourselves?”.
As is the concern of many a fledgling businessperson, the toughest obstacle in the duo’s mind was whether they would get the idea off the ground at all, but that was actually the easiest part. Expansion has been the real battle, Charlotte explains; “Since the very beginning, the most persistent challenge has been in trying to scale up the business to accommodate the demand… constantly making improvements in processing; investing in new equipment, expanding the premises for both production and storage, all of which has been incredibly tough on cash flow and logistics. Especially whilst keeping the business up and running as usual, with just the two of us!”.
And what does a typical day look like for these young industrialists? “It’s safe to say, work has completely taken over our lives. It’s incredibly difficult to switch off from running a business. Knowing that you can always do more, always work a bit longer, can be all consuming. Hopefully our loved ones can be patient with us a little while longer!”.
It seems that an acceptance that you will need to live and breathe your startup project should be factored into your business model as you take those first steps, and possibly beyond. Indeed, you don’t have to look too far to find countless other testimonials from entrepreneurs which suggest that it’s a hard old slog to take an idea and turn it into a living but the key, it seems, is if you care passionately enough about that idea you will feel quite prepared to change your lifestyle to accommodate it.
Laurence McCahill, Co-Founder of The Happy Startup School, notes that there is a movement in businesses being formed by those who welcome a change in lifestyle and don’t necessarily mind if it’s not a huge money spinner, although in some cases the happiness culture that these companies foster ends up delivering vast profits (think Innocent Drinks). They do it because they enjoy the work and the lifestyle that comes with it. So with a shifting social mindset and at a time when graduate unemployment and economic uncertainty regularly appear in the headlines, perhaps now is the most opportune time to try to make a go of it on your own. Once the foundations have dried, investing in a team will help you claw back some of that precious time you expended at the beginning and things may begin to feel a little more routine, albeit a routine that you have defined for yourself.
All ‘Opinion’ pieces are the opinions of the author, not Quick Formations.