Steps to Opening a UK Food Business - Part 1

"Good enough isn't" - Adrienne E. Treeby

So. I'm breaking with tradition here a little bit. Normally, I don't give a post such obvious direction. But since we're in the endgame here - I decided to be a little more direct. This will be the first in a series covering the baby-steps Crown & Queue is taking into the real world. 

****

Health and Safety

For a good long while I allowed myself to be surprised that there just didn't seem to be as many regulations here in Europe as there are in the U.S. and Canada. Beginning my research into the legislative health and safety requirements necessary, I found repeated admonishments to 'do good', to 'take care' and 'have a HACCP plan'*. But nothing particularly SPECIFIC! Coming from a continent that has rules like 'x-item must be so many mm in length and so many mm away from the wall and so many mm from a water source', it was just so confusing to be trusted. I kept thinking that there must be something I was missing... 

But this isn't the first time I've noticed that Europe has a more relaxed - some might term it 'understanding' - attitude towards food management. When I worked for the Cheese Shop - I noticed this same phenomenon. Cheeses, all out on a counter? Exposed to the open air? Exposed to, gasp!, the possibility of human touch?! That would never fly in the homeland. Yet, if these sorts of conditions were actually unsafe, then Europeans would be dropping like flies! And they're not... 

So maybe the explanation for my lack of success at discovering any enforceable minutiae is not that I'm missing something but rather that Europe is getting something. Or always got it. That food doesn't necessarily need to be thoroughly wrapped in antiseptic packaging to be kept safe. That our systems can handle a little rocking. Perhaps they didn't have the microbiological vocabulary to describe what was happening a hundred years ago, but if you look at the traditional techniques we've been handed down, you realize that without knowing it those old-school cheese-and-salume-making were abiding by everything we can put it a name to now. 

At any rate - I don't believe in doing anything by half-measures. You might take note of the quote above? So whether or not, I have to, I'm going to read everything I can and I'm going to re-up all my certifications. 

That last one begins today... with a course at LivingroomCordial** - a CIEH (that's the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) approved teaching center. A Level 3 course in Food Safety Supervison for Manufacturing. 

So far, although it's fun to go over all this stuff again and I like the teacher and other students, it's mostly been complete review. But hey.... sigh... no half measures. And I think it will definitely be worth it to include this certification in my qualifications. Because, spoiler alert, part 2 is about getting some more funding!

Visit to the new site at the end of the week!! Pictures, pictures, pictures. 

 

*Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plan. It's basically a system to help food businesses avoid any issues before they even occur. You Analyze all the moments in the flow of food through your business where Hazards lurk. Then you specify at what or which level/temperature/condition Controlling becomes Critical. In other words, past this line YOU DO NOT CROSS. haha. 

**Yeah, that's totally a pseudonym. Deal with it. 


"I have no problem getting financing...

I have a problem catching ideas that I fall in love with..." - David Lynch

As I sorted my thoughts regarding this post, an overwhelming jumble of song lyrics, quotes and books came tumbling into mind. Money. Well, whether she works hard for it, whether it makes a rich man's life always sunny or the world go round, we can all agree that money weighs heavily on just about everyone. 

But most of all on the hopeful entrepreneur.

Sure, there is probably the odd spoiled dilettante starting up a start-up who doesn't have to concern herself about where she'll get the financing. But, generally speaking, it seems likely that most hopefuls don't fall into the category of 'already wealthy'. And facing each and everyone of these - and myself, I shouldn't let it go without saying - is the decision of what we're willing to do in order to get what we need. 

Nod, if you're catching that slight whiff of prostitution... *laughs.  My partner is fond of reminding me of the Crack Whore* who gave 'it all up' for $5 - because that was all she needed to buy her fix. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he isn't actually comparing me to a street hustler... but the analogy stands. How do I determine what Crown & Queue is actually worth when it isn't worth anything right now? And how do I figure out how much I'm willing to risk its potential future in order to secure the funds that it needs in the present? 

So do I give up future money or future control? Translation: Interest or Equity. 

If I go the interest route - bank loan, personal loan, etc. I'm (no-pun!) banking on making this idea pay. Especially in the personal loan department as I'll continue to be liable for the interest and capital even if I go belly up. Y'ouch.  There's absolutely no buffer in this option. Plus, because I have so little rep or pull right now, the pricetag on a sufficiently sizeable loan is going to be pretty hefty. BUT, on the flip side, if I am genuinely successful, I'll have repaid these loans within the next couple of years (mostly) and have a thriving business over which I have complete control. Hmm... Let me rephrase that, a thriving business over whose profit I have complete control . P.r.e.t.t.y attractive.

Though the equity route is pretty sexy too.... You've got to picture me the day I found out about Seedrs... I was all like:  "Whhhaaaaaaa? These people are going to give me heaps of money and I wont have to pay it back if I fail?!!? Where do I SIGN?!"  Sheesh.

Don't worry, I evenutally figured out that it wasn't so simple. If I source funds from Seedrs, or anything like it, or offer up Equity to a friendly investor**, I am basically giving up part of the ownership and control of Crown & Queue in exchange. I'll owe these people FOREVER, and they may not always take a backseat when it came to decisions. But in the short-term, I'm very realistically getting something for nothing. Plenty of those songs, quotes and books I mentioned earlier have very strong opinions about how safe or desirable an agreement like that is. 

I'm very curious, given those parameters, what route you'd have pushed me to take...

But since I've already started moving in a direction, it'll have to be posthumous because... bit of news... I've just started moving forward on my first loan. I know, I know, I played that one close to the chest. But yes, introductory financing is now in place!

Not that it has really solved any of my mental dilemmas. 

In the end, I eventually decided that true freedom has a price (in this case to the tune of 6%) - and if I wanted to have someone looking over my shoulder I'd continue working for other people. I figure, if I can't raise the funds I need by putting up my marker, well, there's still plenty enough time to selling off C&Q's 'body'....

 

 

*No, this isn't a euphismism for someone whom I am protecting... I'm pretty sure she really was a crack whore! It's an article or news segment he saw somewhere. 

** And yes, I do mean my friends