Shelim Hussain is the founder of the Euro Foods Group and Kukd.com. He started the former when he was 17 years old with just £20. It’s now a multi-million pound business employing more than 200 people and is the largest supplier to UK Indian restaurants and takeaways providing everything from food to laundry services. Here, he provides some advice on the fundamentals of getting your business up and running.
Starting a new business will be the most exciting, exhilarating but also nerve-wracking time of your life. Whether you have £20 as I did or £50,000, you have to be clear about where you want to go. What is your goal and how long have you set yourself to get there? Without a goal you could end up working too much in the business and not enough time on the business. That is one of the hardest things for any startup.
I knew my industry well which was a big advantage. I worked in restaurants from the age of 11 and ran my own at one time. Family and friends were a great help when I started Euro Foods and you may be fortunate enough to have support in that way too. Either way, there are some things to bear in mind for anyone contemplating starting a business – here are my top five.
(1) Look for a gap in the market
I knew by being able to provide a one stop shop for restaurants and takeaways this would help them save time and keep their costs down. In the past they would have had to go to a range of suppliers, one for meats, another for vegetables, sauces etc. My USP was being able to supply all of that in one place.
(2) Do your research
You may have a great idea but do your research before you do anything else. Work out on paper whether it will make money. Then go onto the next stage and put it into practice. It is worth considering giving yourself a trial run and if it works then go for it.
(3) Plan your costs
There is a real buzz around buying something for “x” and selling it for “x” plus profit when you start. However, don’t get carried away by the idea of making profit alone. It doesn’t matter how much gross profit you are making if your costs outweigh that because then you are back to square one – or worse – so plan what you have to spend out as well as what you hope to come in.
(4) Proper pricing
You want customers to keep coming back so be realistic about your prices. Many startups pitch prices low to attract new business. The problem is that when you need to put your prices up the customers who came to you because you were the cheapest may well disappear. Pricing is one of the hardest things to get right so work on that at the start and it will make your life easier as the business starts to grow.
It actually quite hard if your business involves a brand new idea or invention because although you are initially ahead of the game it may not take long for your competitors to catch up. So while you obviously think your idea is going to make a fortune you do have to be realistic about copycats. That applies just as much whether your idea is a product or a service.
Running your own business is incredibly rewarding. I have been fortunate to be given awards for my contribution to business and Wales (where Euro Foods HQ is based) and was presented with the British Curry Awards Personality of the Year 2011 by the prime minister David Cameron. Not bad for a teenage startup with a £20 investment. I’m now looking forward to helping restaurants and takeaways take control of their online presence through my new business, Kukd.com.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.