Celebrating International Woman's Day with "THE BOSS" of Biltong
Celebrating International Women’s Day with ‘THE BOSS’ of Biltong
It doesn’t seem two minutes since I made the decision to leave my Director role in a Corporate world to start making Biltong full time. Petrified, anxious, excited, overwhelmed are just a few words that I would use to describe my feelings at the time. It was all so far out of my comfort zone, starting to learn about HACCP Plans, Water Activities and a whole new world of Environmental Health Regulations and gaining our accreditation to allow us not just to produce our products but to also distribute them. I had more than one sleepless night telling myself I really couldn’t do it and should just go get myself a ‘proper’ job.
Five years on and I still feel Petrified, anxious and overwhelmed but the excitement and pride I feel as I enter our new offices on a Monday morning far outweighs any Monday morning feelings I used to feel.
Everyone talks about their ‘Journey’ in getting to where they are now, quite honestly I feel like I have been on a high speed train around the world, we really haven’t stopped. The first two years I worked at home and alone most of the time. I collected the raw product, I processed it, I hung it, I cut it and finally I bagged it. Then of course I processed the orders, packaged the parcels and did all the other admin type jobs that were required. However, It was Ryan that not only worked all week in one of the UK’s largest Call Centre’s, but also worked all weekend on market stalls and at large foodie events; selling our products and more importantly our brand. Yes I did my fair share at weekends too but I also had to make sure that the kids were tended to and fed. I don’t think we actually had any family time for those first few years of starting the business. However, it also had it’s perks. Our daughter was still at primary school and I got to complete school runs and attend school events that I had previously missed out on, if I managed my time right all week I sometimes got to have a coffee with a friend on a Friday afternoon or to face the supermarket at off peak times!
It became quite clear that if we wanted to extend the business then it needed more than just me. I didn’t have the time (or the knowledge) to look at growing the online side of the business but in order to get some home life back it was obvious that this was what we needed to do. Fate stepped in and Ryan was offered redundancy, after 20 years working for the company the package he was offered was worth him taking the plunge and joining the business full time to concentrate on the sales and marketing side of things. Once again the anxiety of the business now having to support us both kicked in and all I could do was keep telling myself that if it didn’t work then one of us would go back to work in a ‘proper’ job.
With a clear three year plan in place we set out working together. Our cosy small living room was turned into a double desked office and off we set. Ryan was still going away to events but the events had gone from Saturday Farmers Markets to events such as BBC Good Food Show, Tom Kerridges Pub in the Park and Country file Live. Ryan attending courses on SEO and Google Rankings whilst I continued to concentrate on the more operational side of things; now we could physically dry more meat because we had more man power to process it. We were expanding at a rapid rate of knots and our house was looking more and more like a warehouse.
It was time to once again take a plunge and find ourselves some premises. After a few struggles and a lot of compromise we found something that suited. Then the world went into Lock Down.
The events we had scheduled on the wall planner were being crossed of one by one as event planners had to respond to the Covid crisis. Monies paid to attend were not to be refunded in full or even not at all and 95% of our previous years income came from these cancelled events. We weren’t eligible for government help because we didn’t have the premises on the date specified and we aren’t a physical retail outlet. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I really did have an anxious time wondering what we would do. An emergency meeting was called across the kitchen island and Ryan pointed out that we would simply move our business plan forward 12 months, we had already planned to move a minimum of 75% of our sales on-line in 2021 so 2020 became the new 2021.
The past year has certainly flown by in a bit of a haze, I was reminded just yesterday that it is a year since the launch of the SHECAN365 campaign and book which I appear in as day 110. A book containing 365 words on 365 women detailing their journey into a whole new world of business. I was so proud and honoured to be asked to appear in the book by Michelle & Christian from Write on Time having met Michelle on the Cheshire & Warrington Growth Programme which we both attended in 2019.
Five years on do I still feel like one day I may need to go out and find a ‘proper’ job - Hell yes! But the five star reviews from trust pilot and Google making comments such as ‘The best Biltong in the UK’ and ‘I finally found good Biltong in the UK’ give me a certain sense of pride that I never felt doing a ‘proper’ job. This along with the fantastic people I have met along the way, through organisations like The South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce and the Warrington & Cheshire Growth Hub gives me the realisation that we all feel like we are winging sometimes and that’s OK.
For just a glimpse of what we are now doing check out our range HERE.