“Last week a competition came up for a local business network in the borough, with various categories including best food business and best start-up,” he begins, describing the Waltham Forest Business Network’s 2014 Small Business Competition. “We entered both and found out that we won best start-up!”
This major win for the young catering company will see Bestowed Kitchen entered into a public vote for the overall accolade of Waltham Forest Small Business Winner, to be announced on the 21st November.
The contest is just one of a number of strategies Wood has been employing to maintain interest in the brand during the winter low-season, while he focuses on cementing the business’ plans for the future.
“We’ve been doing fewer events quite consciously because we need to take a step back and think about where we’re looking,” confirms Wood, “But we want to remind customers that we’re still there and don’t want to lose the momentum, so we’ve been trying to keep that going by doing things like social media and paid advertising in a local magazine.”
The magazine activity in particular has raised a few questions for the young entrepreneur, causing him to gain a newfound appreciation of the need to continuously re-appraise practices as a business leader.
“From talking to a friend in marketing this week, she mentioned monitoring the success of adverts, which is something we hadn’t built in completely,” he comments. “If we get any sort of catering enquiry, we need to build that step in of asking them how they heard about us in order to monitor the effectiveness of that advertising. It’s those kind of steps, questioning and analysing what you’re doing, that are quite important.”
Wood admits a similar discussion this month also caused him to re-think his view on the value of business plans.
“We’ve been debating the usefulness of business plans,” he reports, “because in some ways business plans are only relevant on the day they’re written, as businesses are so fluid that you write it one day and things will change a week later, so I was doubtful over how useful it would be.”
Now though, Wood has come round to the idea of putting his plans for Bestowed Kitchen into writing.
“It does help you to focus and think about your strategy,” states Wood, summarising, “Just by the nature of what they do, they make you look at your goals and your visions, and at the competition.”
Even an initial half-hour session estimating the core financial requirements and forecasts for Bestowed Kitchen’s future, using basic planning tools, has begun to put things into perspective for Wood.
“One of the difficulties and obstacles that we’re thinking about is the whole finance issue,” relates Wood. “That transition from full time employment to making the leap of opening somewhere is quite a difficult one. We haven’t got big savings to call upon to put up for this, so it will be about trying to identify sources of finance that we can go to.”
Wood plans to set aside time in the next few months to put together a comprehensive financial plan in order to gain a clearer view of the business’ options.
“By the end of that we’ll have a good idea of what we’re looking at, what we’ll need in terms of start-up costs and whether what we’re planning is viable at the moment, or whether it needs to change,” concludes Wood.
Entrepreneurs, how did writing a business plan affect your business’ outlook? Join the #StartupStories conversation by sharing your experiences with Aldermore and Bestowed Kitchen on Twitter.
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