I’m glad our start-up failed
It became clear during the final days of Lashbrook Lassis that if we were to achieve what we were hoping to, it would’ve only meant the start of a very difficult journey.
Our primary aim for Lashbrook Lassis was to gain a listing in one of the multiples. Once we achieved this we felt everything else would slot into place. It was incredibly tricky though and in the end we never managed to achieve this. However, if we had then I think it would’ve only prolonged our struggles and encouraged us to invest even more money into the business.
The fact is when you’re a small fish trying to do business with large corporations, they obviously know who’s going to be setting the terms. As a drinks business, the multiples were not interested in helping us thrive. The closest we got to gaining a big listing was when we had the opportunity to pitch in front of Booths. They are a relatively small chain of supermarkets in the north of England and are well-known for treating their suppliers well. Yet upon hearing that our shelf-life was 40 days, the buyer responded, “great, we’d look to place an order once a week”. This wasn’t great for us though, as we didn’t want to be running small production runs once a week, but larger runs just once a month.
We were incredibly grateful for Booths in offering us their time, yet they weren’t going to bend over backwards to help us succeed – and why should they.
Such a difficult experience was not unique to us and our business. There are a few of other entrepreneurs who have spoken out about their struggles of running a start-up. Kyle Gawley explained how his start-up put him in hospital. He described a time when he blacked out, before going on to vomit a black tar liquid. Kyle visited his doctor who told him that the black tar was actually clotted blood and that he was bleeding internally. All these problems were brought about by the stress of his business. My favourite line in his post is, “There is a wonderful delusion about startups, usually peddled by people who have never built or been involved in a startup.”
I also saw a letter written in The Guardian recently asking for career advice. It was entitled, “How can I explain that my start up firm fails to put food on the table?”. The gentleman concerned explained that with his savings almost exhausted he questioned whether to struggle on with the business. Alternatively, he was unsure whether to look for permanent employment having spent 4 years out of the jobs market and with only a failed company to show for it.
This is often the true face of start-up businesses and I feel somewhat fortunate that we got out when we did.