This month I’m drawing a parallel between the life cycle of a caterpillar and the life cycle of a business, specifically The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Rude Health.
We’ve eaten our way through the apples, strawberries and pears, and feasted on the cheese and salami (sadly without Eric Carle’s brilliant illustrations). In our version it’s been more about creating lots of new foods and drinks and getting them listed with new customers and new markets, ranting and bog snorkelling throughout. It’s been a blast. And now, while the caterpillar has a bit of a green leaf to offset the feasting, we’re having a bit of a review to catch our breath.
Then, next week, our version of the caterpillar’s chrysalis is an intense two-day workshop, out of which we should emerge, a beautiful butterfly - a business with a focused and clear sense of the next phase of life.
It’s all about the focus and clarity. In the earlier phases of the business, other attributes have been more important. We’ve been resilient through a recession, innovative with our NPD, bold with our ranting and throughout all 14 years we’ve been in rude health.
Now we get to take a good look at the next 14 years, and what we think they will bring. It’s a chance to take stock, look ahead and make sure we’re equipped and ready. We’ve grown up: we’re more experienced, have more awareness and a position in the market.
The market has changed too. Eating healthily isn’t a niche thing any more, it’s normal. Alt milks have gone from a rather small and dreary corner of shops, to a thriving and growing space in the fridge as well as on-shelf, and everyone wants a piece of the action.
To set ourselves up for another 14 years of fun and feasting, we need to refine to razor-sharpness what continues to make us and what we do distinct from anyone else, and then communicate it with equal clarity.
It’s going to be an intense two days, but the real work will start afterwards. And for a group of quick-thinking, creative and autonomous people, I think the hardest part will be sticking to a single focus.
So we want to be a butterfly but with the mind of a monk. I think I just broke the analogy.