Written by Cassandra Handley, Hult contributing blogger.
Becoming a global entrepreneur doesn’t happen in a two-hour span like the movies lead us to believe. Most know that behind any successful endeavor are countless hours of failed attempts and ah-ha moments that make the whole start-up process oh-so-addicting.
In honor of the final segment in a new documentary series on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube channel about CRU Kafe, CEO, founding partner, and Hult International Business School alumnus, Colin Pyle offers his top tips (one with a 98% success rate!). Tips for seeking the elusive balance of business, passion, and positivity that leads to a globally minded company with strong ethics and outstanding products. And, as a bonus, his partner The Food Busker YouTube star chef, John Quilter, chimes in with some sage advice.
Tip #1: How to seek advice from schedule-packed business professionals as an MBA student
“Doing an MBA is a great opener to build your network, explore the world, and figure out what you want to do next. I set a task for myself to have two coffees a week with people I didn’t know and exactly using the line, ‘I’m doing my MBA in London, here’s my backstory, I’d love to pick your brain about how you ended up where you are and what your plans are going forward.’ I got a 98 percent success rate using that. Most figure, what’s 15 minutes?”
Tip #2: The hiring reminder for every startup CEO
“Early on, hire people smarter than you, who are experts in the areas you need. The network developed through my classmates [at Hult]to help lead my company globally, help me with my job, and recruiting has been hugely valuable, because the CEO’s role is not to be an expert in any one area of a business, but rather to understand every area and have incredibly smart and gifted people managing those specific areas. Not having an ego while building your senior team is extraordinarily important because you’ll never find a success story that didn’t have a great supporting cast.”
Tip #3: When fundraising, remember the rainy days
“Always raise 50 percent more money than needed. I’ve had to go back out to raise more money because I didn’t raise enough the first time around, and it’s a waste of time. Raise more money so you can have a larger inventory, so you can have more slack in your business. Have that war chest available so you can take three to four months to regroup and rebuild the business if you need, rather than go under.”
Tip #4: Plan for the good days and the bad days
“Unexpected things happen all the time. From an angel investor pulling out at the last minute to my supply chain saying the coffee capsules we’ve been using for the last two years are no longer available as of next week. The one guarantee in a startup is things will always go wrong. And I truly believe it’s how you maneuver and deal with the bad things that split the successes from the failures.”
Tip #5: As a business owner, how to keep self-doubt at bay
“There are 45 people – 20 employees and expectations of 25 shareholders – who put their faith in me on a daily basis to continue to grow the business in the right direction to get a return on investment. It’s exhausting, but also exhilarating because I can’t let these people down. That said, I never want to be afraid of failure, but I want to know that if one of my businesses does fail, I can look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I tried. Everything.’ And that I can look at my staff and say, ‘I tried as hard as I possibly could. I gave it everything I had. And it still didn’t work, and I’m sorry.’ As long as I can be happy with that mentality of giving it my best, then that’s one of the ways that I deal with the daily stress of having a lot of people to support.”
Bonus Tip: From The Food Busker John Quilter
“Whatever you do, it needs to be authentic. It needs to be genuine. It needs to be real. You can’t fake a passion for business. It’s fine if you don’t understand everything at the start because a passion for learning is just as powerful. At the heart of anything successful is a genuine authenticity.”
Take a look at the other posts in this series. One about the origins of the company and an infographic of the company’s global influence. The documentary series Coffee Hunters in Colombia is on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube channel.
Cassandra Handley, Hult contributing blogger, is a freelance writer and content strategist covering digital commerce and eBusiness. She has writing and research credits with Vanity Fair, VanityFair.com, Boston magazine, and Rue La La, where she was copy and editorial director.