Business Advice spoke to Andrew Newlands, owner of high-end confectionery brand Monty Bojangles, about accelerated startup growth, beating the competition and knowing when to ask for help.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
I’m Andrew Newlands, managing director and co-founder of Honeycomb Project Management Ltd. and The Monty Bojangles company.
(2) How long have you been around for?
I started in business 16 years ago.
(3) How do you make money?
We source, develop and market confectionery under our brands or under the private label of customers. Maintaining high standards our, process begins with expert research, sensitivity to trends and shopper awareness, and ambitious forward market wide projection.
This informs and directs our sourcing and product development tracks, and guarantees our finished confectionery creations are relevant and exciting, in high demand and of top quality. The products are then carefully marketed to achieve maximum exposure, impact and momentum.
(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
The culture of Honeycomb is one of optimistic indomitability. We have always punched above our weight, and have always been a successful challenger.
The business has been faced with competition from enormous brands and private label domination – each time, we’ve confronted this competition, and despite their efforts we have not been rolled over.
We have broken into one of the most competitive, maturely developed and saturated markets in the land and have thrived in doing so.
(5) What was key in terms of getting started?
Hard work and a will to win. It is simply imperative that you are prepared to do more than the competition. Everything you plan, produce and deliver, every act, utterance and presentation, all experiences others have of you need to be brighter, faster, more intelligent and more considered than the competition. You have to want it more than them.
They will have more money than you, more resources than you. They will have a better position that you, more exposure to key business drivers than you.
The battlefield for your victory needs to be selected as one you can compete on from day one – make it that of sheer grit and personal commitment. Never leave a room when there is any risk that you, or what you have said, will be forgotten.
(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?
Buying our key competitor in 2015.
(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?
Prior to our rebranding we lost a key listing in Waitrose to the competitor we purchased above. This lost us a foot hold in the premium primary grocer, an important customer of ours then, as well as naturally undermining our forward profitability at the time.
(8) In five years’ time, I will be…
Managing director and owner of a £25m turnover FMCG company, home of an ever increasing number of premium brands across multiple food categories.
(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?
Have the humility to recognise that you need help. Asking for it, taking it, and learning from the advice of others will save a lot of time and money.
Even when your experiences feel like enough to judge matters, having an objective and ideally detached person to explain things to is invaluable. When one processes information, forms opinions, and reaches conclusions in isolation, it can be the seductive path to poor decision making.
If you’re convinced of the correct decision try and explain it to another – you will find this much harder to do. What feels like hours of explanation in your head will become light weight in five minutes in front of a pair of crossed arms. The decisions will still be yours, but by pitching it to an objective (and hopefully combative) other party you will hear how weak and unformed an argument is when it only exists in your mind.
(10) Who are your business heroes and why?
My mother and my cousin. Between the two of them there are decades of business expertise in two completely different fields – sales and marketing, and accounts and finance.
I have benefited enormously from what I have learned from these two successful business mentors, and the businessman I am today is because of their guidance.
Meet the duo behind Beauty Boulevard – the Dragons’ Den reject that claims to be the next Tangle Teezer.
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