I am a thinker, and my co-founder Nick is a do-er. Well he’s actually very good at thinking, but he is motivated by doing, while I can spend forever happily playing with ideas in my head. As a partnership it works.
‘I’ve got lots of ideas, but I don’t know which one to do’ is something I’ve heard from more than one aspiring startup. This is an interesting question that gets to the heart of when to think and when to act, because the unspoken question is ‘which idea is right?’. And this is exactly when thinking becomes procrastination and the only way to move on is to act.
You will never know which idea, if any, is right, until you try it out. You can think for years, making it perfect in your head, but you’ll soon find out the real world is a very different place from your head. At some point you have to act, to try. And you may well fail - repeatedly. This is the risk of starting a business. You don’t have to be comfortable with it (it’s pretty uncomfortable having your house on the line) but you do have to be prepared for it.
That’s the first step in starting a business. The steps keep on coming. Each time we think of launching a new food or drink, we work on the food itself and the packaging and the messages on pack, until it’s ready to launch. However, the idea of being ‘ready’ is a fallacy - it’s just the moment that we decide it makes more sense to get it out there into the real world than to keep fiddling with it.
There are always questions or things we’d love to change. I have wanted to put our milk alternatives into glass bottles for the past five years. It’s a good thing we didn’t wait to launch it because it still isn’t possible to do this. We’d love our kombucha lines to have colour co-ordinated lids, but we’ve just had to get over ourselves for the moment (I’m hoping it won’t take five years). And sometimes we decide it isn’t good enough and we don’t do it. I am still chasing the perfect porridge bar, years after we first tried to make them, but we have never managed to balance the texture and sweetness.
The first act is the hardest, because it takes place in a vacuum. Once you are up and running momentum forces decisions; there’s nothing like a listing date to make sure you get the food ready, or indeed a deadline to write that article.