Advice from the Coal Face

10th February 2016

Our solicitor fixed me with a steely glare. ‘You don’t have to go through with this, you know. You can still back out.’ I was about to sign the lease for 40 Challoner Street. His lack of faith temporarily unnerved me. My pen hovered. ‘Let’s go for it,’ I said under my breath, signed the document and passed it across the desk.

The Coffee Kitchen will have been open for four years on 1st September. That’s a long time. That’s a very long time. It feels like centuries at times. It also feels like no time at all.

We started off with no experience in retail or catering. We found a location down a side street. Most of the space was upstairs. Both our accountant and our solicitor gave us warnings about opening. The location is poor. The competition is too hard. You won’t do it. Cheers!

Three years ago, I wrote a piece for the Guardian Small Business Network. It told of how we came to start up. I swear, not a week goes by without someone contacting me by email or on Facebook thanking me for writing that piece. For some it gave them hope as they were about to embark on their own journey. Others found our honesty refreshing. Others have asked for advice.

More and more people are being tempted to branch out on their own. Sometimes this is because of redundancy. Sometimes it’s because it’s a dream that they’ve had for years. For some people, it’s just the right time and the right place to start their own business.

So I thought I’d share with you some of the things that we’ve learnt in setting up our business, expanding and developing some of the themes in that Guardian article. I hope we can encourage other people as well as giving you something interesting to read. We shall see.

Should I have walked away when the solicitor asked the question? Maybe – but I wouldn’t have had so much fun.

< back to blog