Growth development


It’s amazing. The difference between a good buyer meeting and a bad one can be £500k, but small brands often don’t put aside even 1% of that to train their teams.

Our communities are now home to over 250 startup and scale-up brands and we genuinely believe they have a winning formula for success. Over the past few years we have seen some seismic shifts in the industry and, as ‘big food’ struggles to keep pace, there has never been more opportunity for small entrepreneurial food brands. However, while at Mars it’s a given, our friends in small food and drink businesses often fail to value professional learning and development. This attitude must change, fast.

It’s inevitable in small business that there will be a lot of ‘learning on the job’ and I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of that, but it’s worth acknowledging that a) it takes longer, b) you genuinely don’t know what you don’t know, and c) when it all goes horribly wrong it becomes very costly indeed.

While working for Metcalfe’s Food Company, I was battling every day to keep my head above water in what was often a frantic (but super-exciting) startup environment. It’s a classic opportunity/cost trade-off. Should we focus on what needs to be done now or invest in what is to come? What I can confidently say in hindsight is that investment in your team’s professional development will pay off 10-fold.

We simply don’t have the graduate training programmes in the small food and drink space and as a result something must give - either you hire experience or provide some training to get your team performing at their absolute best. Learning and development budgets are often the first thing to be cut when clamping down on costs, but it’s arguably the most expensive mistake you will make - bad deals, lost sales, and wasted time are all very costly.

Small food and drink brands have a fantastic opportunity to steal market share in the coming years, so don’t let a skills gap set you back.

  • Set a budget for development - and use it
  • Place the proper value on continuous professional development
  • Set someone the task of scoping out the best tailored training for your teams
  • It’s a great time to be a small brand; let’s make sure our teams are able to make the most of it.

Chris Green is co-founder of Young Foodies