To my surprise the first impression I got from the day was how important it was to get it right in terms of who you were going into the venture with.
Maybe this came down to the contrast between the experiences of the first two speakers.
First person on was the man from Higgidy. They had started as a group of three friends – one of them doing the pie making and the other two helping out. Two out of the three had got married and they were all still working together after how many years of doing it.
There was time for questiomns and someone asked about the dynamic between the three of them and what difficulties there might have been. That was then my note-book came out for the first time ‘friendship, partnersip and tension’ I scribbled.
The next speaker was a Camilla Barnard from a company called Rude Health which had started out by making a particularly good type of muesli and then moved onto other things including porridge and cereal like snacks. The genesis of the business had come about when she and her husband and their neighbours had gathered round a kitchen table and tried to work out how to make a muesli they all liked. They came up with something and the business was up and running. She then turned the talk round the question that had been asked as to the difficulties in starting a business with friends and said that the neighbours were no longer part of the business and they were no longer friends.
Next up was the lady from Planet Organic, Renée Elliot. She talked about some of her partners and mentioned the 18 months worth of litigation that followed on her falling out with one of.
Jimmy who made and sold the chilled coffee had started in the business with his sister and it was clear that she was still very much part of it all but kept in the background.
It transpired that the two lads who had the pizza business, Pizza Pilgrims, when they were asked the question as to whether there had been any testing of their friendship working together, they were brothers.
They were on stage together but the others were there by themselves but the clear impression was given, and I think someone may even have said it, you can’t do these things on your own. It is important to have people there with you as part of the business. But you have to trust those people otherwise you run the risk of a bad falling out.