"One of the saddest lines in this world is,'Oh come now - be realistic.'

The best parts of this world...were fashioned by those who dared to look hard at their wishes and gave them horses to ride." - Richard N. Bolles (author of What Colour is Your Parachute?)

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I had originally planned a different topic for this post (the first in some time!) - but it seemed just too on the nose to avoid speaking about one of the big factors that found me making time for this blog today - so I switched gears. 

Let's talk about... marrrrrketing. 

Or, somewhat more accurately, marketing in the age of social media. 

As a blog once dedicated to the books I read about food - it likely doesn't shock that I acquired a lot of business books prior to beginning C&Q. One of my favourites was written in the mid-80s (and no, not the Parachute) Sure, their examples are hilariously outdated but the advice as a general rule is sound. Except for one particular thing. The advice related to marketings suggests the following list as an example of the most important steps to a successful campaign:

1. Get some branded freebies (pens, magnets, etc. for 'promotional giveaways')

2. Take out at least a quarter page ad in the Yellow Pages

3. Purchase a list of buyers and cold-call them (use the word 'Sample' aggressively)

I'll go ahead and assume that you are sniggering at this list as much as I was. When I put together a list of my own a few months ago, it looked more like this: 

1. Design some carrybags & 'cool' flyers that double as art statements (branded freebies)

2. Make sure the website has good Google rankings

3. Build a thriving account on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter -  throw in a couple of obscure new sites (Foodstand, Frilip, Vine, Medium) - try to build relationships and surreptitiously offer samples "just for funsies" *

I'm sure that Señor Ninteen-Eighties' list was plenty difficult at the time - but it didn't require the same kind of emotional commitment that today's list does. You have to give a genuine part of yourself to Twitter in order for it to work successfully. And frankly, today's items could be subdivided into about a thousand other tiny categories that carry their own lists. Taxing doesn't cover it. Especially item #2. 

Google just doesn't make it easy for you! Nor should they, of course... The whole reason their brand is now a verb is because the results of a search seem fairly objective. Or well, the general public has at least bought into the fact that the whole google indexing/algorithm/thingamajig (mostly) only throws up appropriately applicable results. And whether it's blind trust, or the results are truly accurate, Google reigns supreme.**

I will be the first to admit that, when starting out on this journey, I held tight to the naive belief that a product of good quality would be sufficient to ensure a successful business. I won't say that I have completely changed my tune on that - but I've come to accept that a business needs more than that to survive. I use the word 'survive' deliberately... Eventually, you might thrive, but you'll need more than good products to make it to the point where good products only are sufficient. I have a fantastic example of that, by the by. Open up a new tab and do a quick google search for 'British Cheese'. Notice anything missing? Yup. Neal's Yard Dairy only shows up on the 2nd page! How about them apples?! *drops mic, walks away. 

Not all of us can be NYD though, so I've spent many weeks fiddling with html, changing domains (you might notice that we're not technically eating.literally anymore?), and using words like 'crawl', 'seo' and 'robot.txt'*** And huzzah! http://curedmeats.london is now on the 1st page! 

In the interests of helpfulness, here are the few tips I've gleaned in the process:

 

Get as much content as you can connected and/or pointed at your domain.

Basically, if you've got a blog (*coughs knowingly), you'll want to make as many high-quality, well-clicked posts as  you can, and make sure that the blog domain will feed into Google's read on whichever site you're focusing on

Also, yeah, some press wouldn't hurt. 

Plus, if you're proactive and snapped up more than one suffix (.com/.co.uk), those should all be feeding into one ultimate domain as well. Otherwise you're just splintering your results. 

 

Pay attention to what you've got down in the subtext of your site

If you aren't the web-savvy who built the site, make sure that you get thems who did to show you how to look at and adjust the index text files. These are the behind-the-curtain files that form the background of your website. Again, too fancy for this post (or my brain, frankly), but all the images you see when you bring up your url are controlled and placed via words. The internet is the truest, most opposite, expression of 'a picture is worth a 1000 words'. A load of those words can't be seen except when for when you're looking at the index text files but Google takes all of them into account when gauging your site for search results.  So you'll want to adjust the title and the meta-tags to make sure they contain all the keywords you expect people to be googling. Again, ask those savvies to show you where these live in the text file and you're good to go. 

 

Pretend that Google wants to help you... No, seriously. 

Well.. They kinda do! As I said, Google has a vested interest in ensuring that their search results are representative and accurate. So if they aren't including you, but they should be, they do want to know about it. And as such they have two apps that you can make pretty awesome use of. Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. The former is particularly helpful. Once you've included those words I mentioned, you can ask that Google 'crawl' your site... Which is rather as it sounds. They'll send sneaky internet spiders**** to rummage all over your site and check out the keywords. And behold... you're suddenly showing up in the searches for those words. 

 

And Don't Be Afraid!

It will feel extremely intimidating when you first start. You heard it here first. No puns intended, but the internet is a language onto itself. So googling "How to improve your Google results" (how meta is that?!) will most often lead you to sites earnestly helpful and just as earnestly confusing as f*ck. But push though it and some day you'll get  to be half-way down the first page rankings just like a certain successful cured meats business I know! (Also, read this. Reading always makes things better). 

 

NEXT TIME: I'll try and cover the other two items on my list before I update you with where we are now...

 

 

*It's beyond the scope of this particular post but I do urge you to note that if you distill each item on both lists down to their key elements - marketing hasn't really changed that much. But let's avoid looking at the man behind the curtain for the moment, shall we?

**'Course, it must be a reasonably safe assumption, because if you were forever getting recipes for delicious desserts when you typed in 3.14, or if you turned up images of Canada's majestic when you typed in mousse, Google would have long ago gone the way of Dogpile and AskJeeves. And yes, if you're curious, I googled food homonyms before I wrote that last bit. 

***Not a word. 

****Spiders crawling the web. Get it? Yeah. I agree... It's pretty creepy. But there you are. 

 


"It is Impossible to Love and to be Wise" - Francis Bacon

Alright - So my original plan was to write about the troubles... err.. I mean JOYS I've recently experienced trying to get appropriate premises nailed down. You remember how they were the last time I wrote about it? Anyways, we've moved quite aways beyond that and I'm excited to post about it - but before I do - I just had to take a time out and talk about swineology, a.k.a. baconophilia,  d.b.a. PORK LOVE!

It started when my brother sent me an email about his recent visit to Toronto - where, as this picture proves, even the Vegans dig on swine, no matter what Samuel says. 

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I'm rather shocked by this restaurant's aesthetic, I have to say. I'm sure that the food is great (my spies tell me that it was true in fact), and I can even come up with some southern-style ideas that are dairy, egg and meat-free, just off of the top of head! Braised collards, étoufée, red-beans-and-rice, mirliton. Plenty of delicious options there! So, I don't get it - Why porkify your message?! Because they (despite being animal-hugging vegans) have fallen prey to bacon-maaaaaaaaaaadness!

Bacon-madness shouldn't be anything new to you, let's get that out of the way. There's been plenty written on how bacon has seeped into every aspect of our dining experiences over the past decade. Bacon salad, Bacon Apple Pie, Bacon JamBacon Brownies and Bacon Ice Cream (the last one actually first came out in 1976 as a joke, but thanks to Heston Blumenthal, now it isn't). 

Bacon Varieties
Marvelous ways to celebrate without eating a bite!

Anyways - this email and vegan-photo prompt set me on a dazzling, rabbit-hole-esque internet adventure where I tried to relive as many "Now, surely, THIS is the height of bacon-madness. Nothing can be more bacon-mad than this" moments I've had in my life. 

And yeah, there were waaaaay more than I expected. 

Ranging from the arguably non-edible, where youtubers Epic Meal Time headed to my old alma mater to make a campus building out of bacon (and poutine and meatloaf, but who's counting - check out the section around 1:21 where they argue about whether they have enough bacon), to Zingerman's yearly ode to the salty, belly, treat: Camp Bacon

Feel free to watch the video below, but the faint of stomach be wary. 

 

 

But amongst the many shocking options, from the Bacon Bra (I don't want to link this - just google it if you must) to Bacon Toothpaste, I did find one thing that actually ought to have more support. 

Not that my limited readership will really help this project along, but it doesn't hurt to try:

behold...  ILIKEPIG.COM

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Bascially, these guys are trying to raise the profile of heritage pork farmers who are doing the right thing, animal-husbandry-wise. Obviously this is something that I want to support. And they're trying to bring their project to the UK so double-whammy there. I don't 100% agree with their prospective itinerary once they get here (Jimmy's Farm? Really? Though the Gotts, that's Sillfield Farm, are definitely porcine royalty) but it's all for a good cause. So I'm definitely going to donate some funds. 

At some point in the future, be prepared to see me in a I LIKE PIGS T-shirt.... Yeah, yeah, I drank the koolaide. I AM THE BACON MADNESS. This like what, shocks you?! 

Baconcomic


Steps to Opening a UK Food Business - Part 3

"We're funded! And this [article on me from the Wall Street Journal] makes it official." - Alex Bloomberg, CEO of Gimlet Media and famed Podcast host.  

Money, money, money, money, money. 

Sigh. 

I hate to start a post this way - but money is on my mind. You mightn't be shocked to know it. A dream like mine takes some intense capital. I've written about the dilemma I've faced regarding trading parts of my business for funding previously. And, while I may not have mentioned it since... doesn't mean that it hasn't remained an issue. 

I thought the problem solved for a while - but when backers back out.. well... it forces you to be inventive. SO: How best to earn some funds on the fly, and without losing too much of my shirt!

Enter Start Up Loans (For once, this is not a pseudonym - I definitely think that this program deserves a little publicity). It's a UK Government backed program designed to help Brits feel as entreprenurial as we Americans do. *laughs. No, seriously. That's what they're billing it as! Check out their 'About' page if you don't believe me. Colour me ironical. 

Essentially, they pair with different charities to distribute the money, each charity with its own unique laundry list of qualifying characteristics. Along with a sizeable loan, at a very reasonable rate, StartUp Loans partner charities provide mentoring, business advice and all around emotional support. 

According to their bio - they've given out £128,271, 272 to 24,377 companies so far... And next week (ish), it'll click up to 24,370 and 8. Don't let the shiny side fool you though - it took a pretty serious amount of hoop-jumping to get this far. I learned quite a bit about pitching to investors by working through this application. Maybe I'm alone here, but I THOUGHT that investors wanted to be shown that I had really analyzed the situation I was approaching, that I had thought through every eventuality, that I was being realistic... uhhhh... Turns out, they mostly want to see pretty numbers! Well, at least that's how I felt. What do you MEAN you don't want to take a look at my carefully crafted market analysis?!?!

Le sigh. 

As excited as I was for the loan, I was confused about how it was playing out... Until I was introduced to another StartUp. This one deals with businesses too - but its a tad cooler, if you don't mind my saying so. If you haven't listened to this podcast yet, wow! Start now. The first four episodes felt like they were actually made about Crown & Queue. And amid the many valuable pearls that the host Alex Bloomberg (lately of Planet Money and This American Life) threw out, he mentioned one thing that really sunk in for me regarding my loan. In one episode, he talks about the insane variety and variability of  investors that he met while trying to drum up financing for his startup. Sure, some of his wanted to talk numbers, numbers, numbers, but other ones were more interested in getting  "a sense of him" and whether his "passion was convincing".  He doesn't say as much, but his success pretty much shows, that if, at the end of the day, they both believe in you, then who cares?

Not meeeee! 

Here's to having enough to make ends meet, my friends!!

 

 

Tune in next time for another exciting adventure a Contractor tries to convince our heorine that the logic of leaving a job half-finished is floorless. Prizes to anyone who guesses what he left undone. 

 


"Once again, my life has been saved...

By the miracle of lasgana!" - Garfield (or possibly Jim Davis..)

 

Uh. 

 

So you didn't think that I managed to set up my curing chamber that quickly, did you????

 

Check out the sites I linked to last week, and you'll see, it takes a good deal of energy and time to set one of those up. And mine isn't ready yet. 

 

But I had to do something with all that shoulder meat, didn't I?!

(Take a peek over my shoulder and you'll see my new Kitchenaid, who, *coughs, was not entirely a waste of space in this endeavour!)

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The Hearty Partner Digs In...

NUM!


"It is a Good Rule in Life Never to Apologize...

... The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them." - P.G. Wodehouse

Without question, this post deserves to be headed by an apology...

Two months is a long time to drop off! On the other hand, I've filled that time with extraordinarily exciting activities. All of which have been documented extensively - but simply... not shared... *laughs. Hardly makes you feel better does it?!

Christmas Blogging
Computer and Smorgasbord

At any rate - I am carefully putting together all of these missed posts - so you should be able to expect some regular updates most, if not every day for the next few as I try to catch you up to where we are at this moment... Hovering on the edge of 2015, and FAR, FAR, FAR from where we started! 

So get your good reading glasses, blankie and mug of preferred-steaming-beverage ready!

xx


Reading & Eating; This Week in Pictures

"A writing cook and a cooking writer must be bold at the desk as well as at the stove" - M.F.K. Fisher

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Madly dashing around town this week trying to accomplish multiple, contradictory agenda items. Nail down a contractor, assign the placement of drains for the new arch (within a pretty intense time crunch - why I couldn't have had the drawings weeks ago is still slightly beyond me), get a proper business bank account, change my surname over to my shiny new married name, meet with a few designers, confirm parttime work while this little baby is working out its growing pains and attend a Level 3 Health and Safety course. Most items on the checklist are ticked, so... uh... huzzah! Sleep was on my list, as was cleaning my house and trying to pack for the grand move tomorrow, but whatever. Sleep and Pack when you're dead. Or something like that. Here's the week in pictures. X

 

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"Hide not your talents. They for use were made...

What Use is A Sundial in the Shade?" - Benjamin Franklin

Working hard on my business plan - trying to tie the loose ends together - while I wait for my chosen analysts to return with feedback on my vision! 

I can see why the books all stress the importants of 'tieing out'. There are so many elements involved in this discussion (sales volume, costs, expected customer base), and so many places where I've answered the same questions (vision, written plan, financial plan), it is really easy to make a mistake or overlook something and not have them all add up. Seems to me those are the kind of errors that cost you funding... Not good. 

While I was scavanging for feedback, I did receive an intriguing piece of advice that has been bouncing aorund the 'ol noggin recently. 

The advice was not to ignore my place in the business plan.. Highlight and sell myself (and the reasons why I'm the right person to put this project together) as often and as much as I try to sell the baseline idea of the business. 

I'm not exactly that great at selling myself... actually... it doesn't take that much to throw me into a self-worth-less spiral. Thankfully, I can buoy back up almost as easily - especially if I've got a list of my awesome qualifications laid out to read when I get down! Plus, I can source this list each time I think my business plan needs a little 'Addie love'. 

So, here it goes:

1. 13+ years in the food industry

2. 2+ years apprenticed to Master Salumiere

3. 2+ years spent managing kitchens (buying, inventory, hiring, team-building and leading)

4. 3+ years spent in recipe development (The New Orleans Cheese Shop, The Organic CoOp)

5. Previously established relationships with English-specific purveyors (Heritage pig farmers/butchers, Heirloom Apple Orchards, Cheesemakers who raise pigs on the side). 

6. Strong relationship with one of the leaders in the English Heritage Food Movement (The Cheese Shop), a customer almost practically guaranteed if my end product passes muster. 

7. Graduated with honours from prestigious Culinary School

8. Certified in Food Handling Safety in two different countries. 

 

Hmmm... anyone think of anything else I've got going for me that I've left out? 

 

Personally, I've noticed a couple of holes that I want to try and patch up before I launch. 

I've labelled them alphabetically to distinguish them as 'wanted' over 'accomplished'. 

 

A. 'Apprenticeship'/Time spent with reputable sausage makers (The Iowaian, The Utahian*). 

B. Business/Financial knowledge (I've learned much of this in the past, but in no real formal way)

C. Haccp Training (Again, learned in bits and pieces previously, but nothing I can formally report)

D. Mechanical Training  (So much of this work involves small motors; refrigerators, mixers, etc. I've always thought the ability to fix them myself would be a great sell). 

 

A is in the works... Now to brainstorm ways to accomplish the final three. 

 

*You guessed it - names changed to protect the innocent butchers.


"Vision is the art of seeing...

...What is Invisible to Others." - Jonathan Swift

Hmmm.. Long week. Surprisingly fulfilling though!

In order to sneak away for that amazing Zinger-filled weekend - I've had to work a couple of 6 day weeks. I really didn't want to use the PTO I have saved up because I'll need as much of it as possible for the wedding in August so, in typical foodservice fashion, I just gave up having a weekend for a few weeks. 

In some ways, it really suits me actually, because (you may have noticed!) I'm a bit of a workaholic and a bit of can't-let-go-er, so I loved being in the loop more than usual. On the other hand, I'm exhausted, stress-dreaming and not as far along on my business plan as I'd like to be. 

That said, I did manage to cobble together a workable VISION. Huzzah!

I may have been a Doubting Thomas initially about the point of writing down a very, very specific picture of what your business - or life? - will be like at a fixed point in the future, but holla, I've changed my tune. 

I am so ridiculously envious of the future I've painted, I practically want to kill future Addie so I can take her place in it! In much less violent terms, I would do practically anything to achieve the image I've painted. And I thought that I was inspired after hearing Ari the Guru go at us? Wow. I don't think I've ever felt so driven before... and as I pretty much define 'driven', that's saying something. 

Although she's a real beaut, I'm pretty sure that this vision could still bear some tweaking, so feel free to pick at it. According to my sources, the key to an effective vision is that it be 1. Inspiring 2. Strategically Sound 3. Documented  and 4. Communicated. I think I've pretty much nailed numero one, three and four. But #2 is a doozie, so have at it. 

I picked one single day in my life, six years from now - six years because 2020 sounds a lot better than 2019! - Ideally, I think that I'd like to also write a vision for my overall year/life etc. for that time period as well. Specify exactly what I am doing with my time - what work, what travel, etc. but I think I might put that off until after my plan is finished... 

 

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CROWN &QUEUE VISION FOR 2020 - 3RD DRAFT

I’m 36 years old, Jamin and I are still very happy – he’s finally received that pay hike that he’s deserved since we’ve met and after a 2nd surgery, he’s finally no longer in daily pain. We’re still in our Canada Water two bedroom, but with a 2 year old Meatball and thoughts about another one – we’ve been thinking about moving on soon.

 

It’s delivery day. I wake up 7 am with Jamin – he’s started waking up early along with me so we can all have breakfast together as a family. The Meatball is up too, and giggly, but s/he’s so well-behaved, s/he still helps set the table. We eat, and at 7:30, Jamin kisses me goodbye and the Meatball and I clean up, pack up, and head out. The Meatball only goes to daycare 3 days out of the week, so s/he can socialize, but today s/he’s with me. I used to work six days a week when we first began operating, but in the last year I have forced myself to have a proper weekend with my family. Now I don't do more than just check-in on Saturdays and only work half Sundays.

We walk to the Arches in Bermondsey, playing games along the way, and I wave to my neighboring wholesalers at the Spa Terminus. Several of them have children too, and we split the duties of watching them. Sometimes we all pitch in for a babysitter if production gets away from us. Today it’s the Soap Maker’s turn – they’re going to make soap together – and then they’ll hit me up later for lunch. I leave the Meatball and let myself into my mid-size Arch (when I negotiated with the Landlord, I worried that I was taking a space much too large, but I'm amazed everyday at how we fill the space, and how lucky I am that we have enough!). 

 

The Sales Manager is there already, double-checking the orders for the day, managing the website, social media and making calls. S/he’ll already have reviewed the phone-in orders, mail-orders and standing orders, and organized a clipboard of orders by due date and hung them on the wall for us. We try to offer as personal and as enthusiastic a shopping experience as possible. The Sales Manager usually spends half the day visiting customers and making sales calls.

The CFO will arrive after me, at 8:30am.  S/he does double duty as our accountant and financial officer as well as our buyer. Although we often work together to organize the buying and non-pork inventories, I've been trying to set back and allow him/her more autonomy.

 

I noticed that the Sales Manager has done me the favour of checking all the temps already so I head straight into my processing cooler and start shifting things around to make space for today’s delivery. I finish up in time to hear the bell ring at 8:45. As I head out, I pass J.O.A.T[1] on his/her way into the processed cooler and the curing room to take inventory. S/he’ll have been here first thing in the morning to pick up today’s orders and deliver them in our refridgerated van and has probably just returned.

 

I open the garage door to let Mr.Pig in with my twice-weekly whole carcass delivery. I check them in (The CFO keeps my non-pork deliveries on alternate days to allow me time to receive/check-in and process in the same day) and toss the confirmed invoices on the double desk the CFO and the Sales Manager share.

I hang the carcasses and start prepping my knives. I get 5-7 whole pigs in each week, which I occasional supplement with commodity shoulders, so I can produce enough to meet specific demand for certain recipes. Even so, I only work with suppliers who are as commited to extraordinary quality and impeccable animal husbandry as I am. I know the entire life history of all the animals I work with; I am commited to helping these animals lead good lives and committed to honouring their memory by taking as much care and respect with their bodies as possible.  Because everyone in my supply chain (and right on to my customers) is so excited to be a part of keeping these classic traditions - butchery, charcuterie and handmade artisinal foodstuffs -  alive, at every step we try to support and encourage each other. Even if this means sometimes being forgiving about accounts receivables. 

 

My hanging carcass rack is on rollers, so I pull it up to my butchering table and proceed to break the bodies up into halves and primals. I keep the Arch very cold to allow me the space to work, but still, I don’t waste time to avoid the meat getting too warm. JOAT comes out with a completed inventory of the processed cooler, and time-lines on the cure room. S/he grabs up the upcoming order clip as s/he heads towards my workspace. Because I produce all my own products, and almost all of them require at least 3 weeks lead time, I have to be very careful about maintaining my pars. I also offer customers the option of customized or specialty meats, but these need to be requested a month in advance. For these reasons, I ask that my customers give me at least two week’s notice before they change their order. JOAT and I talk through where our levels are and what the priorities should be. We discuss which items ought to be highlighted at the Saturday market and s/he points out a specialty order due next month that I ought to make today or tomorrow. As we wrap up, I’m finishing my first pig – it takes me about an hour a pig, and this delivery of 3 carcasses means I’m wrapping up just as noon hits.

 

Meanwhile, JOAT starts assembling boxes and pulling meats to fill all the orders due tomorrow. Orders left overnight can be picked up directly from us by courier anytime from 11am till 5pm, while ‘next-day’ deliveries go out starting at 6am, six days a week. JOAT usually wraps up the deliveries by 9-10am, returns to the Arch, packs up the following day’s deliveries and then goes home.

 

My butchering timing is good as, having just finished putting all the bits back into the processing cooler, the whole tribe of children (as well as the Soap Maker) troop over for lunch.

 

The Meatball loves to be in the kitchen and heads straight over to remind me it is time to start cooking. Together we head into the processed cooler and pick out a few fresh sausages (I sell these at the Saturday market because the turn around on producing them is so quick). I also have stock of vegetables and cheeses that come from other Spa producers – we always try to support one another! The Soap maker needs some time to get her production in order, so s/he leaves after promising to come back and grab some leftovers later. The Beekeeper turns up at that moment (s/he’s got the afternoon shift).

 

Some of the older kids and the Beekeeper set the table while the Meatball and I cook. Fresh rolls for the sausages from one of the bakers, grilled veggies, a salad (the Meatball is great at making dressings) and a plate of cheese. Unpasteurized milk from one of the cheesemakers is the final touch. JOAT, the CFO and the Sales Manager (who’s just returned from a sales call) join us for lunch as well. Everyone who works for me is always well-fed, which, in my opinion isn't even a 'perk' as it should just be a given. Because we practice OBM/OBF, JOAT and the Sales Manager know that we are all working together to create a sustainable business, and although their wages may not be as high as other jobs, Crown&Queue works hard to give them a satisfying, comfortable and happy place to work. I only pay myself £600/wk, just a decent living wage really, and my employees make nearly as much, and they know it. Actually, this year, we are on track to post a profit for the second year in a row. It seems unbelievable, but after all costs and expenses, Crown&Queue will bring in £65,000 of pure profit this year. Parts of this, obviously, will go towards paying my shareholders who invested in me via Seedrs. But the rest I will roll back into the business as well as give my three employees thank-you bonuses this year. I recognize the fact that all three choose to work for me, and I respect that choice by being as accommodating, and respectful of my team as I can be. Each one of my team members has exceptional and unique qualities that they bring to the table. Although, like all families, we can argue, generally, Crown &Queue is a rollicking and happy home.

 

The Meatball and I play a rousing game of tag before s/he goes down for a nap. I keep a space for this in my arch (when s/he was younger, I kept the crib there and had the Meatball by all day long). The group tumbles off to learn how to tend bees and make honey. The Sales Manager cleans the dishes and resets the kitchen.

 

My team heads back to work. JOAT finishes up all the orders due for delivery tomorrow, sweeps and mops out both of the coolers and leaves at 1:30pm. I have 100 different restaurants and shops that I supply, not including The Cheese Shop, and a healthy website-driven mail order program of about 50 orders a week (about £1,000). Due to varying needs, we receive orders from about half of brick-and-mortars each week and a typical order is for about 30-40 pieces each (~£100 ea). The Cheese Shop is still probably my largest single account as they supply all three of their shops with my meats and have a £2,000 to £3,000 order each week. Thankfully, they organize their own deliveries from around the corner, which does take some of the pressure of my small team. Just about all of the restaurants and shops I serve have menus/inventories devoted to showcasing the best of local production. My meats really fit into a special niche not just because they are made in London, but also because the recipes feature English Heritage Pork Breeds and only English-grown (or traditionally English) spices and seasonings. As such, we don't focus on any export or mail-order outside of the UK. 

 

Every single one of my customers acknowledges the exceptionally high-quality of meat and service they receive from Crown&Queue. We are the highest and best ranked of the handful of people producing cured meat in London and still the only wholesale option. The flavour profiles we create are unique in England and, indeed the world, and I am committed to standing behind each and every one. If any of my customers has the slightest qualm about one of their purchases, I will do everything I can to make it right. Both JOAT, the CFO and the Sales Manager, indeed anyone who works with me – I hire extra people for markets and around Christmas – buys into our mission of an authentic, caring provision of service. Even though we've grown our business by at least 10% each year since our inception, we still treat every customer as though we need them. I believe, and my team buys into the idea, that this attitude is key to consistantly and constantly providing great service. We’ve been recognized several times by the industry (British Food Awards) and the media (Cuture, Saveur, The Times) as a spectacular model of food service, food quality and out-of-the-box products.

 

The Sales Manager tells me we’re on track to hit our forecast of sales, new orders, and production this week as s/he heads to fill in those lines on our whiteboard. Our huddle is tomorrow. Generally this is the last thing s/he does before s/he leaves at 2pm. The CFO filled out our costs, accounts receivables/payables lines a little later and usually leaves at 3pm - s/he only works 6.5 hour days, but works six days a week.  5 office days and one market day, that way s/he still has a solid sense of what how our products look, feel and taste. The Meatball wakes up from her nap and gets a cuddle and a juice box. The CFO offers to escort her to the Beekeeper’s and we both accept.

 

I have the next two hours alone to continue grinding meat, separating it as I go into different weighted piles based on my production needs. I salt and season all of the whole muscle cures, prepare MEP for all of the various sausages I will make tomorrow and by 5pm all of the meat is sorted, either ground or seasoned and hung. Sometimes I have time to make one batch of sausage on a delivery day, but I don’t push it, because I know that the more time I take today to sort myself, the more productive I will be tomorrow. I can usually push through 800-1000 sausages in a day when I’m properly set up. Generally, with two receiving days, this means I produce about 2800 - 3000 sausages a week. Sales currently are around 2000-2500 pc/week, which means I am consistantly building my stock. If sales continue as they are, I will hire myself an assistant during the latter part of this year or the next to help keep production where it ought to be. I'd prefer to bring in a culinary student or the like, someone who is eager to learn sausage-making for its own sake, rather than just as a joe-job, and teach them just as I once learned myself.  

 

I clean the butcher table, sweep, scrub and squeegee the floors. Hit the lights, alarms and locks, and head towards the Beekeeper to pick up my squealing Meatball. We laugh our way back to the condo and start to put together dinner just as Jamin comes home at 6pm. We play together as a family for a while after dinner, and the Meatball goes to bed at 7:30pm. Jamin and I enjoy our adult time together – he’s still my favourite resource for ideas and perspective. Finally, we both head to bed at 10pm and I fall asleep knowing deep down that I am excited to start it all over again tomorrow.



[1] Jack Of All Trades


"Your Vision Will Become Clear Only When You Can Look Into Your Own Heart...

Who looks outside, dreams; Who looks inside, awakes." - Carl Jung

 

 

So it is probably rather unsurprising that working for one company while planning another is bound to lead to cross-overs. 

First, and most obviously, as I read more and more about how to 'build a better business', I see the ways in which I can/have/have not managed this in my current incarnation. More on that later. 

But secondly, and a little more shamefully, I garner very useful tidbits (experience and advice) from practicing, so to speak, on somebody else's machine. 

That said, I want to speak a little bit about my most recent acquisition via the Organic Co-Op: my Myer-Briggs score. 

For those unfamiliar, this is a personality analysis based on Carl Jung and further developed by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myer. I've always had the impression that it is used most extensively in Occupational Psychology, but hell, maybe there's a bunch of people out there who like to know where they fall on a Jungian continuum just for the giggles of it. 

Here is an online version you can do yourself if you're one of those latter types. Although the official test is usually much longer and more complex, it is still, like the linked option, a yes/no question list. 

Anyways, there are four categories and two options per category which gives each respondent a four letter code or personality type, each of which carries different expectations regarding skills, abilities and preferences. These categories indicate the differences in how people:

1. Focus their attention or get their energy (Extroverted or Introverted)*

2. Perceive and take in information (Sense or INuition)

3. Prefer to make their decisions (Think or Feel)

4. Orient themselves to the external world (Judging or Perceiving). 

I've actually taken the test several times in the past, both officially and unofficially (how did you think I came up with those links, eh? Google?! Hah! You wish). I've taken it in my 'bachelor of psychology' phase, and I've taken it in my 'student of culinary arts' phase. But this is the first time I've taken it when I had fully entered the professional world, the first time as a manager, and, it goes practically without saying, the first time as a potential entrepreneur. So I definitely interpreted my results in a new-ish manner. Particularly after consulting with my Organic Co-Op General Manager who already had expectations regarding my type based on my performance!

 

Long story short here are my results (and how I think they connect to my current project):

 

ENFP:

These dudes are initiators of change and keenly perceptive of possibilities. Contagiously enthusiastic, they prefer the start-up phase of a project or relationship. Frequently in need of praise, but quick and responsive to the same need in others. ENFPs are at their best in fluid situations that allow them to express their creativity, to use their charisma and to take advantage of their verbal fluency. They tend to idealize people, situations and potential outcomes, and can be disappointed when reality fails to fulfill their expectations. They are easily frustrated if a project requires a great deal of follow-up or attention to detail.

Yeah. So. This is the type that I've most consistently been placed in since I started taking this test. It very keenly explains why I fall in love with project concepts (*coughs like the one I'm trying to put together here *coughs) but have difficulty with the nitty-gritty of actually going through with it. Reading all the descriptions, I also tend to self-identify with this one - i.e. it sounds the most like how I see myself. One of the elements that I gleaned from this current test, is that the best way to flatter an ENFP's skills, is to pair them with someone from the TJ side of things. Suggestion is to partner them with someone who does excel (and enjoy. Blech) the finnicky elements of business. Something to think about...

 

HOWEVER, I did not say that this was the result I received from this particular test-taking. It wasn't. In fact, it was almost the opposite...

 

ENTJ:**

These peeps focus on the most efficient and organized means of performing tasks. ENTJs make superior leaders, as they are both realistic and visionary in implementing long-term plans. However, they tend to lack the ability to incorporate more subjective, emotional, values into the decision-making process, considering those elements practically worthless. ENTJs excel in business, areas that require systems analysis, original thinking, and economically savvy minds. They are generally very confident, assertive, outspoken, and charismatic, unaffected by conflict or criticism. However, these same qualities can make them appear arrogant, overwhelming or controlling. ENTJs will often try to take charge of a situation that seems (to their mind, at least) out of control, or that can they perceive can be improved on or strengthened. When striving toward a goal, these types will often put personal needs aside until the work is done (and expect others to do the same).  For this reason, ENTJs may be considered self-sacrificing by some,but "cold and heartless" by others. 

"INNNNNTERESTING!": I hear you cry. Yeah. It kinda is. Especially as this is the first time that I have ever tested anything other than ENFP. One hypothesis put forth by the woman who ran the testing was that I completed the questionnaire while at work, and probably had my 'work hat' on. Personally, I think there is one other analysis to consider... The assignation of these personality types are extremely affected by how we perceive ourselves. If you play around with the test I linked to, you'll see that it can be hard to select an answer in situations where you prefer one way (say... pre-planning and organizing a study schedule so you are prepared for an exam) but know that you truly end up acting in the opposite manner (cramming at the last minute because you're a total procrastinator). I think the above is how I want to be, and how I try to behave in work scenarios, which frankly, is very encouraging for my future plans, no?

 

and finally, what my GM expected me to be:

 

INTJ: 

Uh.. Can I just say.. Introverted?! Seriously?! Me? Anyways..

INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing them from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake ... They possess the unusual trait of combining imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause: both perfectionism and disregard for authority come into play. Analytical, they are most comfortable working alone and tend to be less sociable. Nevertheless, INTJs are prepared to lead if no one else seems up to the task, or if they see a major weakness in the current leadership. They have a low tolerance for spin or rampant emotionalism. They are not generally susceptible to catchphrases and do not readily accept authority based on tradition, rank, or title.  They harbor an innate desire to express themselves by conceptualizing their own intellectual designs.  They are often acutely aware of their own knowledge and abilities—as well as their limitations and what they don't know. INTJs thus develop a strong confidence in their ability and talents, making them natural leaders.

I'm going to go with 'thanks' and 'ouch'. It's worth mentioning that this is how my GM tests out, so she sees me as being very much like herself. 

 

And it gives me one final, interesting, piece of the puzzle. 

 

If ENFP is how I see myself (touchy-feeling but creative), ENTJ (creative, but organized) is how I'd like to be, and INTJ (coldly organized and efficient) is how I come across, maybe this whole business idea has a much greater chance of success than I secretly despair... And maybe I need to spend some time scaling the whole thing back so I will actually be seen as the leader I want to be. I need to find ways to make my good points work for me in this project. And finally, I need to be kinder to myself about my difficulties in assembling the hard data I need for it...and maybe...maybe.. start accepting that I might need help. 

 

Tune in tomorrow for a view at how I'm implementing all this into creating a organizational chart for the future of queue meats.***

 

 

*Don't pay too much attention to what connotations these words might also carry - the Myer-Briggs ladies didn't really use them to their fullest definitive use. Try to accept them as unassociated categories rather than adjectives with deep meanings. Its' hard, I know, but try. 

**I just want to mention that I took a look at the graph of how much my answers showed a preference for one option or another. Except for a pretty obvious single-minded preference to perceive and take in information via Intuition (N), I fell into the E, T and J side by only 2 points each. That's out of a possible 50. To put it into context, I chose N answers by a margin of 30!!

*** Working title... Thoughts? 

 

"When Furious...

Get Curious." - Paul Saginaw from Zingerman's Deli. 

When you're obessed, it is easy to consistantly find real world examples that feed into your one-track.

I spend a lot of my time thinking about this business and how to go about creating it, and anytime I run into someone doing it right (or doing it wrong!), I try to sock it away in my brain. Recently, it came time for me to renew my car insurance, or as I like to think of it, time to confront the dogs of hell and demand one more year's worth of sanctuary. You can probably imagine the situation was rife with business model examples. 

This particular renewing I knew was going to be tough (and don't worry, I'll get to the point of this story very shortly) because I had a fender-bender on Christmas Eve and my insurance had to pay for the repairs. So I online-shopped around a little to make sure I was still getting a good deal. As my insurance still hadn't come forward and let me know what my new premium was going to be, I also hit up my current insurance company's website to secure a quote, thinking: "well, hey! It's bound to be something similar, though probably more expensive because I'll get a discount for my loyalty". Imagine my shock when I discovered that as a quote-unquote 'new' customer, I qualified, even with my accident, for a premium lower than I was currently paying, AND, that they expected me to pay almost twice that just to renew without changing anything. 

How ridiculous is that?! To add insult to injury, when I called the company directly to demand the better price for my renewal, the girl I spoke to couldn't help me. She had no recourse for changing the cost or price. Instead, she offered to cancel my current policy so I could reapply, thereby securing the lower premium (for twice the coverage that I had now, mind you). 

I'm sure you can see how this anecdote greased my mental cogs. What kind of business makes the securing of new customers so important, that they will actually throw away anyone who tries to stick with them? How big and invincible must a company think it is, how much must they believe in an infinity of new customers, to choose to make joining them for the first time so much more appealing that staying with them for the long haul?!

I'm not saying that sourcing new markets is foolish or greedy. I don't believe it is... but at the detriment of those already purchasing from you?! Illogical bordering on the moronic.