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#insights

# insights - Tuesday 11 July, 2017

From Business ETC 'It's easy on social media to look successful. I was all smiles online but a mess inside' Insights

'It's easy on social media to look successful. I was all smiles online but a mess inside'

After managing hotels in the Middle East, Shane Ryan came back to Ireland to launch a healthy food startup.

# insights - Sunday 9 July, 2017

From Business ETC The art of finding and grooming future managers and team leaders in a business Insights

The art of finding and grooming future managers and team leaders in a business

A list of several tips that will help you spot future leadership talent in your company.

# insights - Friday 7 July, 2017

From Business ETC 'Sometimes festivals just don't work for us. The food doesn't sell and you lose a lot of money' Insights

'Sometimes festivals just don't work for us. The food doesn't sell and you lose a lot of money'

Over the years, Kanum’s Marc Fitzharris has learned when it’s the right time to cut your losses.

# insights - Thursday 6 July, 2017

From Business ETC Baby wipes, whiskey and a 'capsule wardrobe' - how to have a smooth business trip Transport

Baby wipes, whiskey and a 'capsule wardrobe' - how to have a smooth business trip

This travel expert delivers a masterclass in arriving in style.

'Everyone thinks their product is the best, but screw up and supermarkets won't deal with you'

After finishing college, Paul Moore turned his part-time farmers market stall into fully-fledged company.

What I've learned from leaving a 'job for life' to go into business for myself

After 17 years as a journalist, Siobhán Maguire was looking for a change.

# insights - Tuesday 4 July, 2017

I DON’T HAVE a background in the food industry, but that didn’t stop me launching my own chilli sauce startup when I was in college.

Back in 2010, I started my Business Information Systems (BIS) degree in UCC. It’s a course geared around business development and also a bit of coding. I got into the course purely for the business aspect – coding was never my forte.

During my course, I started Rebel Chilli, a chilli sauce startup, with my brother purely to make a bit of cash on the weekends – and for a bit of craic.

We started out quite simply, just selling in our local farmers market and then travelling all over the country to food festivals.

Yes, we had launched our own business, but we just saw it as a weekend job and it was never anything too serious.

After a while my brother went on to pursue other interests, so I took over the company and kept it going during college. Then I reached the first big crossroads.

In 2014, I was finished college and suddenly I was left thinking, do I go at this full-time or take a handy graduate job offer that was on the table.

But those job offers didn’t really appeal to me at all. I kind of knew there was potential in Rebel Chilli and so thought I may as well give it a go. “Sure, if it doesn’t work out, so be it,” I thought at the time.

Capture4 Paul Moore Source: Rebel Chilli

Starting off

It was actually the bit of time I spent working in the US – a year before I finished college – that convinced me to go at Rebel Chilli full-time.

I was left so frustrated by the pace at which some larger companies move. I just wasn’t used to it. So I made the call that if I can avoid the corporate world, I will.

When I went full-time, it was a big change from just doing it at the weekend. It was tough to adjust to.

When I left college, the main piece of advice I was getting from people was “don’t do it”, “you’re mad” and “you’ve got a good degree you may as well use it”.

The way I looked at it, I had a good degree and I can still use it if this company doesn’t work out. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I’d lose a year or two, that’s not too bad.

I was young then and I’m still young now, so I didn’t feel like I was throwing anything away. If anything, I would be doing exactly that if I just packed up the business I built during college.

In a way, the advice I was getting made me think I had to prove those guys wrong. I’m the kind of person that if someone tells me I can’t do something, my brain starts thinking of ways around that.

Adjustment period

So I went overnight from having Rebel Chilli as a weekend gig to it being my full-time job.

I was on my own and left thinking that this has to work – it’s all down to me.

There were times where I felt I always had to be doing something. I never had anyone to tell me to switch off or to say “that’s enough work for today”.

I was left finding my feet for a long time and learning what tasks are a priority, how often I do those tasks and how much time I need to spend on them.

That took a while, but once you get a routine, you start to settle. But what I’ve found is that every six months I have new tasks and responsibilities that are more important. It took me a while to sort out the menial tasks from the crucial ones.

It’s very isolating to work on a startup by yourself. And I’ve spoken to other business owners and they all say the same thing.

As amazing as it is, you can be left lonely. It’s something you probably can’t completely grasp unless you’ve gone through running your own company and not just worked in an office.

It was scary and I’ve always enjoyed it, but I was worried and left second-guessing myself about whether I was doing the right things.

Then after a while when you start to see sales trending upwards, you start to get a bit more comfortable and have a bit of confidence in yourself.

IMG_3609 (1) Source: Rebel Chilli

Ups and downs

It’s nice when I do achieve something because I know it was all down to my own hard work. But those moments are few and far between.

One of those big moments was when the company won gold in the Blas na hÉireann award for best sauce.

I was down in Dingle at the food festival that runs at the same time as the festival. I was setting up the stall and doing the bits and pieces I needed to do – I wasn’t even going to go over to the awards.

I really didn’t appreciate the situation until I changed my mind at the last minute. Then they read out Rebel Chilli had won and only afterwards I realised how big a deal that would be for us.

That was really fantastic – even if I didn’t realise it at the time – and got us loads of new customers.

Similarly getting into my first store was a watershed moment. That was in SuperValu in Clonakilty and it’s much different from having your stall set out at a farmers market. It was mad to see it on the shelf and selling.

Bouncing ideas

As I said, being an entrepreneur can be lonely.

In 2014, I was approached by Graham Clarke, formerly of another food startup called Kooky Dough, because he was interested in joining the Rebel Chilli brand.

I decided to bring him on board with a view to using his expertise. You can talk to family and friends, but they give different kinds of feedback. Graham has been there and done that, and can be an objective voice.

Getting another person who you can bounce ideas off is a key piece of advice I’d relay onto other entrepreneurs.

But also I would say to anybody starting out to try and strike a balance between work and life. But admittedly, I say that as someone who hasn’t done that yet and doesn’t really know how to.

If I take a day off, I would still be thinking of things to do with work. Some weeks I prefer to keep working instead of taking Sunday off so you have momentum going into the next week.

Momentum is something so massive when you’re growing a company. If I have five good days of work, I’m tempted to keep going rather than take a day off.

LEO_Cork_Portraits_10 Source: Cathal Noonan

Transitions

The nature of the business and how we do things has definitely changed. It would have been more casual when we started, but now it has to be professional.

Transitioning from being a stall at a farmers market to a proper business is a hurdle a lot of businesses stumble at.

But you have to transition well because if you’re dealing with big supermarkets, everything has to be perfect. If you screw up once they will not deal with you again.

We all think we have the greatest product in the world, but you need to be professional and match that.

We may have started from a small stall in a market, but we’re in the UK, Abu Dhabi and Dubai now and I hired my first employee, Fergus, a few weeks ago.

So we’re growing as a company and I’m getting to a point where I’m happy with where we are at in Ireland.

That means I will have more time to focus on the UK, so by the start of next year I’m hoping to be in one of the main retailers over there.

It feels like a long time since I started out with my brother, through trial and error, trying to find the right chilli recipe in our mother’s kitchen. And I still spend a lot of my time in the kitchen these days.

It’s bizarre to think this is my full-time job, but it has been my life in a very intense way for so long that it’s hard to imagine not doing it.

Paul Moore is the co-founder of Rebel Chilli. This article was written in conversation with Killian Woods as part of a series on unlikely entrepreneurs.

If you want to share your opinion, advice or story, email opinion@fora.ie.

# insights - Sunday 2 July, 2017

From Business ETC What I've learned from leaving a 'job for life' to go into business for myself Insights

What I've learned from leaving a 'job for life' to go into business for myself

After 17 years as a journalist, Siobhán Maguire was looking for a change.

# insights - Saturday 1 July, 2017

From Business ETC The tax-smart ways to pass on a business to the next generation Insights

The tax-smart ways to pass on a business to the next generation

Good succession planning doesn’t stop with deciding which family member gets what.

# insights - Friday 30 June, 2017

From Business ETC ‘I had no income for two years – I couldn't do that to myself or my family again’ Insights

‘I had no income for two years – I couldn't do that to myself or my family again’

This scientific researcher learned some tough lessons while trying to launch his fantasy sports company.

# insights - Thursday 29 June, 2017

'The hype dies down after you open, and you're faced with the realities of paying the bills'

After leaving his job to open a café, Barry Lennon was forced back to accountancy to make ends meet.

From Business ETC 'A radio interview is just like doing a business pitch - except in a soundproof box' Media And Arts

'A radio interview is just like doing a business pitch - except in a soundproof box'

This broadcasting guru delivers a masterclass for startups in how to do a live interview.

# insights - Tuesday 27 June, 2017

From Business ETC 'The hype dies down after you open, and you're faced with the realities of paying the bills' Insights

'The hype dies down after you open, and you're faced with the realities of paying the bills'

After leaving his job to open a café, Barry Lennon was forced back to accountancy to make ends meet.

# insights - Monday 26 June, 2017

From Business ETC How Leo Varadkar's plan to 'ban' essential public sector workers from strikes could look Opinion

How Leo Varadkar's plan to 'ban' essential public sector workers from strikes could look

A similar scheme was recently introduced by the UK’s Tory government.

# insights - Sunday 25 June, 2017

From Business ETC 8 things freelancers can do to make sure they actually get paid Insights

8 things freelancers can do to make sure they actually get paid

For many, working independently is the dream – but unpaid invoices can turn it into a nightmare.

# insights - Saturday 24 June, 2017

From Business ETC Why in the near future even lawyers will need to understand code Opinion

Why in the near future even lawyers will need to understand code

Once the profession made do with quill and ink, but now it’s dealing with technologies like AI.

# insights - Friday 23 June, 2017

From Business ETC 'After nine years in business without a summer holiday, we're taking a week off this year' Insights

'After nine years in business without a summer holiday, we're taking a week off this year'

This school teacher went from giving French lessons to delivering pizza at 6am before work.

# insights - Thursday 22 June, 2017

From Business ETC The 'stupid parlour tricks' from a Silicon Valley superstar that will fix your business pitch Startups

The 'stupid parlour tricks' from a Silicon Valley superstar that will fix your business pitch

The head of a global accelerator delivers a masterclass in fine-tuning a presentation for investors.

# insights - Tuesday 20 June, 2017

From Business ETC 8 business lessons from rubbing shoulders with Ireland's top entrepreneurs Insights

8 business lessons from rubbing shoulders with Ireland's top entrepreneurs

The best feel the fear, but go ahead and do it anyway.

# insights - Monday 19 June, 2017

From Business ETC The art of avoiding office politics and earning respect in the workplace as a leader Insights

The art of avoiding office politics and earning respect in the workplace as a leader

Here’s a guide for those rising through the ranks in the business world.

# insights - Sunday 18 June, 2017

From Business ETC What I learned about being better at business networking... from a dog Insights

What I learned about being better at business networking... from a dog

Anyone looking to make connections at events could take a few tips from a puppy.

# insights - Saturday 17 June, 2017

From Business ETC How to sidestep the blame game - and give staff feedback that actually works Insights

How to sidestep the blame game - and give staff feedback that actually works

Effective leaders provide employees the best possible chance to perform well.

# insights - Friday 16 June, 2017

From Business ETC 'We're still feeling the effects of customers going bust, just walking away and stinging us' Insights

'We're still feeling the effects of customers going bust, just walking away and stinging us'

After decades in business, this horticulturist shares what he has learned from surviving the tough times.

# insights - Thursday 15 June, 2017

From Business ETC 'You're not buying a job with a franchise, you're buying a business. It's a big commitment' Insights

'You're not buying a job with a franchise, you're buying a business. It's a big commitment'

David McKone of Right at Home Ireland delivers a masterclass in setting up a franchise business.

'My business shut and I was pregnant with my first child, but I still owed €30k. So I just kept working'

After her gastropubs closed down, this cook was determined to pay her debts and fight back.

# insights - Monday 12 June, 2017

From Business ETC 'Startups need to have an appetite for risk - failure is just another part of the process' Startups

'Startups need to have an appetite for risk - failure is just another part of the process'

Here’s some advice for young Irish firms looking to attract investors.

# insights - Sunday 11 June, 2017

From Business ETC Why some firms never fall victim to cyber-attacks - while their competitors do Insights

Why some firms never fall victim to cyber-attacks - while their competitors do

There are steps every company can take to make themselves less vulnerable.

# insights - Saturday 10 June, 2017

From Business ETC Tenders are worth €9bn here each year - this is how smaller firms can win more of them Insights

Tenders are worth €9bn here each year - this is how smaller firms can win more of them

Many companies wrongly believe the process is too difficult.

# insights - Friday 9 June, 2017

From Business ETC 'My business shut and I was pregnant with my first child, but I still owed €30k. So I just kept working' Insights

'My business shut and I was pregnant with my first child, but I still owed €30k. So I just kept working'

After her gastropubs closed down, this cook was determined to pay her debts and fight back.

# insights - Thursday 8 June, 2017

'I made the tough call to quit football. If I didn't, the chance for my business would be gone'

After spending time in Australia, this personal trainer came across an idea he couldn’t ignore.

'There was a period after we sold to Google when I thought I'd never do that again'

After selling his first startup, Plink, this tech entrepreneur is back with a retail game-changer.

From Business ETC 'Dressing for a job interview isn't about showmanship - it's about getting the basics right' Insights

'Dressing for a job interview isn't about showmanship - it's about getting the basics right'

Designer Sonya Lennon delivers a masterclass for women making a return to the workforce.

# insights - Tuesday 6 June, 2017

From Business ETC 'I made the tough call to quit football. If I didn't, the chance for my business would be gone' Insights

'I made the tough call to quit football. If I didn't, the chance for my business would be gone'

After spending time in Australia, this personal trainer came across an idea he couldn’t ignore.

# insights - Saturday 3 June, 2017

From Business ETC Do employees have the right to call in a lawyer during work investigations? Insights

Do employees have the right to call in a lawyer during work investigations?

A recent High Court case could change the definition of ‘fair procedures’ on the job.

# insights - Friday 2 June, 2017

From Business ETC 'There was a period after we sold to Google when I thought I'd never do that again' Insights

'There was a period after we sold to Google when I thought I'd never do that again'

After selling his first startup, Plink, this tech entrepreneur is back with a retail game-changer.

# insights - Thursday 1 June, 2017

From Business ETC How businesses can avoid wasting time and money on social media Marketing

How businesses can avoid wasting time and money on social media

Jamie White of Leading Social delivers a masterclass in online networking for SMEs.

'I had a solid business but the recession nearly killed me – it was a real lesson in humility'

After getting burned out, this artist found a second lease on life with a new business partner.

'You always have to put the business first – I've had to make sacrifices'

After six years at Kerry Group, the founder of Black Twist left his job to launch a coffee spirit drink.

# insights - Tuesday 30 May, 2017

From Business ETC 'You always have to put the business first – I've had to make sacrifices' Insights

'You always have to put the business first – I've had to make sacrifices'

After six years at Kerry Group, the founder of Black Twist left his job to launch a coffee spirit drink.

# insights - Monday 29 May, 2017

From Business ETC Ireland could learn a few things from the UK's quiet pensions revolution Insights

Ireland could learn a few things from the UK's quiet pensions revolution

The roll-out of a ‘pension dashboard’ could help with the big problem of unclaimed retirement funds.