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How to make difficult decisions for your business

Well Connected

How to make difficult decisions for your business

As a founder you will often need to take tough decisions that have a huge impact on your business. I met Lucy Wright, co-founder of good food company Cuckoo, who recently had to stop the production of her products. It was a difficult decision, with the future of her business on the line.

 

Lucy told me what she learnt from this experience…

 

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1. Tell me more about what you do. How did you start your business?

I am the co-Founder of on-the-go bircher muesli brand Cuckoo. I decided to launch a food business with my business partner and childhood friend Anna Mackenzie after she came to me with the idea which was born in her mother’s kitchen. We recognised an opportunity to cater to the growing demand for healthy, convenient breakfast options which fit into a demanding schedule. Using Anna’s mother’s recipes, together we developed an idea for a revolutionary take on traditional bircher muesli. Within 3 years, the brand was stocked in Waitrose, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Tesco & Ocado to name a few.

 

2. You had some tough decisions to make in 2016: what happened?

We realised in 2015 that we had a good brand and we could clearly sell it into places. This was great news from the retailers’ perspective. But we needed also to work on the customer side and raise our brand awareness.

 

In order to do this, we needed to raise money. We approached a trade investor and the synergy was immediately obvious. We even started talking of “joint partnerships”.

 

In the process we stopped talking to other investors. However, this trade investor was very slow at making a decision and our funds were getting tight. 8 months later and no decisions had been made. As our funds were going down, we couldn’t deliver on our production target and we lost listing in some retailers. It became critical to do something fast.

 

We decided to step back, stop the production and take a moment to pause and decide where we wanted to take the brand.

 

This pause gave us the time to think it through and we still had some money. We are now talking to other investors, and we are confident that our brand is still strong.

 

3. What is the best way to deal with strong emotions when making tough decisions?

It’s important to have someone that you can trust and talk to about the various problems the business is facing.  You want to be able to talk freely to them about contract clauses, investor’s decisions, problems in productions etc. In addition, reach out to friends, your board of investors and people in the same sector as you. Supportive feedback will all help you to make your final decision. You will remove some of the strong emotions behind your problems by sharing them and seeking advice. Especially if this is your first business like me!

 

4. Looking back, what decisions would you have made differently?

I would have kept looking for more investors. This may sounds straightforward today, but at the time, we strongly believed we had found our investor. My advice is not to put all your hopes on one chance.

 

5. What tips can you give to other entrepreneurs when it comes to making decisions?

  • Seek other peoples’ opinions
  • Talk to other people in the same sector, friends, family
  • Never rush a decision on an impulse or strong emotions
  • Map out the short and long-term scenarios
  • Look at the positives and negatives for each option

 

Each decision for your business needs to be related to your objectives and long term goals. Keep that long term vision at the forefront of your decisions.

 

If like Lucy, you have faced a tough decision within your business, you can always ask for advice from other Pioneers. Ask your questions on the community forum here.