Entrepreneur Q&A: Sandows London

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In this quickfire Q&A we welcome co-founder of Sandows London, Hugh Duffie. Sandows London produces cold brew coffee inspired by Eugen Sandow, the iconic Victorian strong man. They are the 2014 Winners of the Young British Foodies Coffee Category.

 

Breaking Biz:

What was your first ever business idea?

Hugh Duffie:

I came over to the UK from Australia. When I first arrived I was keen to start my own music business. I’d been working on organising festivals back in my home town before leaving and I really love Australian music so wanted a company that could help artists from Australia bring their music over here (London).

I had a logo done by a friend of mine, it was all really exciting but after I did that the reality of how much work it was set in to me, and I got a bit distracted by food and working in restaurants but I guess that’s what lead me to where I am now.

BB:

Why did you decide to start your own business?

HD:

I think my mate Luke who is now my business partner…we more or less convinced each other really. We both always really wanted to have our own businesses for one reason or another but mostly just liked the idea of being in charge of our own future.

We used to work together and cycle home in the same direction, stopping off at pubs… not sure whether it was that we were really comfortable with each other or really drunk but we coaxed it out of each other.

One moment that made me realise I wanted to start my own business- We’d had a really busy day at the cafe we used to work out. I remember telling my employer that the cold brew was all sold out and we made more than ever before and he said ‘If someone does this properly it’s a licence to print money’ and Luke and I made eye contact and from that moment we knew we were definitely doing it.

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BB:

How do you identify a real business opportunity?

HD:

Everyone you talk to has to be unusually excited about the idea to the point where they convince you more than you convince them.

There’s not being able to explain your idea well enough and there’s also having an idea that no one’s into which is really dangerous. You need to talk to as many people as possible and make sure they’re really vibing off your idea.

BB:

What skill or ability is most important for an entrepreneur and why?

HD:

Just the ability to pivot, to turn a source of frustration into excitement and energy that you then put back into what you’re doing. I think people that don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset can find it really confusing but when you’re running a business sometimes you have to change the plan and adopt a new one and embrace it with the same conviction. That can be confusing but it’s super, super important to remain flexible.

BB:

You know someone who wants to start a business but fears leaving their job. What do you say to them?

HD:

There is plenty of time. There are plenty of ways to scale down one thing and build up gradually but it’s dangerous to fall in love with the idea of a clean break, i.e. today I’m working for somebody else and tomorrow I’m going to be working for myself. I don’t think that’s as important as people make it out in their own mind.

If you do manage to start a business, pretty soon you won’t worry about how things began but more likely you’ll be concerned about how to keep it going.

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BB:

Are there people who start a business for the wrong reasons?

HD:

Maybe.

BB:

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned?

HD:

I think I know myself better than I did before starting a business and also I think I know now that I don’t have to be the best at everything. Sometimes it’s quicker and you get better results when I acknowledge that someone else can do a better job than I can.

BB:

Can you recommend any books or resources that have helped you along the way?

HD:

I love reading stuff from the likes of Fast Company, New Yorker, The Atlantic, Medium….that kind of thing. It’s also important not to become obsessed with reading about productivity and inspirational business stories.

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BB:

What’s the best part of your job?

HD:

I just get to work with loads of really cool people all the time and we’re all really stoked about we’re doing. Definitely far and away the best thing.

BB:

What’s your biggest fear?

HD:

Running out of time to do things.

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