Someone recently asked me if we’d made any mistakes since we started Rude Health. My stunned look wasn’t a reflection of my outrage at the very idea - but amazement that anyone could possibly think we’d got everything right. Most of the time we don’t know what right is until after the event, when it works. Or doesn’t.
I’d suggest that you don’t start a business if mistakes weigh heavily on you. We have launched foods into the wrong retailer (no names, because it wasn’t about who they are, rather timing). We have made foods that didn’t work: RIP Top Banana Porridge and Peanut Drink, among many others. We have tried to reach customers who weren’t interested: hello Body Power and Imbibe. We took the Rude Health Rants far and wide, and the only place they worked was Abergavenny Food Festival. Some countries continue to elude us: Denmark, are you so happy and hygge that you don’t need any more rude health?
That’s quite enough failure for one article. The thing is, if we only did the ‘dead certs’, we’d make very slow progress, we’d still get it wrong (because even a ‘dead cert’ is never guaranteed) and we’d be very boring and bored.
Most failure comes through trying something and there is nothing more fun than having a go. We love our Sprouted Porridge Oats, but it’s taken five years for them to be recognised by the wider world in the form of two gold stars at the Speciality Food Awards. A Great Taste success, finally. We were taking a punt when we made our Almond Drink in 2013. Almond milk wasn’t much of a thing then, but we believed in our ingredients and taste, and had a feeling that other people cared too. On this occasion we were right and Almond Drink is now our bestseller.
The big one, of course, is that Nick and I had never worked in food before setting up Rude Health. On paper it was more likely to fail than succeed, but we did it because we believed in it, and we were prepared to fail.
And you simply have to be prepared to fail, in order to stand a chance of winning. On which note, Nick has failed to win the Golden Spurtle at the World Porridge Championships seven times. We are all hoping that this year won’t be the eighth fail.