10 tips to scale your business from the founder of Eat Natural
“Make sure you love what you do. Love your product. Love your customer. And then never stop being ambitious.”
Praveen Vijh, Founder of Eat Natural Bars.
2018 comes packed with growth opportunity for business owners, and here at O2 we have recently launched intended to offer tips and practical advice for scale up success from proven entrepreneurs. We were thrilled to invite Praveen Vijh, founder of Eat Natural Bars, to tell his inspiring scale up journey to a captivated audience of entrepreneurs and small to medium sized business owners.
In 1997, he set-up what is today one of the UK’s most successful health food companies with his business partner, employing over 350 people, operating across the globe, winning Exporter of the Year last year. It was hugely motivating to hear his story, from his break through moments to picking up after failure. Here are his top 10 tips for scaling up your business.
1. Focus on your product
Something fundamental to our success was putting all of our concentration on the product. We asked ourselves: what sets us apart on the shelf? Does it taste incredible? Does our branding stand out? You have to have a true passion for your product and a hunger to keep pushing to make it the absolute best it can be. In the early days, we didn’t have the budget for lots of marketing, for example, so we had to physically show people how good our product was, and embody our passion and belief in it ourselves when selling.
2. Know your customer
It’s absolutely key to get to know your customer, what’s important to them and upcoming consumer trends. Keep your consumers at the heart of every business decision you make. Spend time learning about them: what they do, what they want, their behaviour, and why.
3. Stay on top of new trends
It’s so important to keep on adapting to new trends, and respond to big shifts in consumer behaviour. For example, there’s been a huge rise in people focusing on their own ‘wellbeing’, and we’ve seen people move away from breakfast cereals with refined sugar, so we swapped our ingredients to maple syrup. We also developed a new vegan bar recently too. So always make sure you’re listening to consumers and can adapt to meet their needs.
4. Keep an eye on competitors but remember what makes you unique
Absolutely recognise new competitors and what they’re up to, but ensure you stay true to who you are, the things that are core to your business and what makes your brand special. It can be tempting to try and copy competitors coming in but always remember: What’s your point of difference? And then stick to this, nurture it and protect it.
5. Put time into accessing top talent
A key winning move for us was to find someone to lead with recruitment that really got our brand. We trusted that person to hire the right people. Of course hiring has to be based on experience, but chiefly attitude. We don’t know what skills might be needed in the future but we know the ambition, drive and passion that we want our people to embody.
6. Empower your people
All of our employees are given a long lead. It’s not about telling people what to do. It’s about sharing the vision, ensuring everyone’s on board, and leading by example.
7. Diversify your product
We are constantly thinking of ways to diversify the brand, for example we learnt not to become too reliant on big UK supermarkets and looked into consumer trends across Europe, which has proved hugely successful.
8. Be prepared to fail but make sure you learn from it
We’ve made several mistakes, for example early on we got the translations of ingredients wrong on our packaging. But life teaches you a new lesson everyday. Failure can make you stronger and hone your focus on what is right for the business. We needed to take a step back and add some more logical and professional steps into our production process to remove this room for error.
9. Utilise technology
Technology has been essential in allowing us to operate across the country, and the globe, and stay truly connected. Cloud sharing platforms mean we can access information anywhere, anytime. Invest in this infrastructure.
10. Ensure sustainability for your brand
We have a 5-year plan to ensure recyclable packaging, however in the meantime we’re working closely with a region in the Philippines where we get lots of our ingredients from, and have agreed to take 100 tonnes of plastic from that area so as to ensure that we are plastic neutral.
A message from O2 Business:
This was the first of five #ScaleUpSeries events, which we have launched with Enterprise Nation. Our next event features Nigel Whiteoak, co-founder of LoveCrafts, on Wednesday 16 May in London. Tickets are going fast so don’t miss your chance to learn from an entrepreneur who has been there, done it and achieved global scale up success. You can buy your tickets by clicking here. Alternatively, click here to review the other #ScaleUpSeries events on throughout the year.
Events like these are just one of the ways we can support your business growth ambitions. We’d love to hear from you and discuss the ways we could support your business even further. Get in touch today.