Richard Pearce of Totally Kosher has learnt the value of focus when starting and growing a niche business.
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Richard Pearce is the owner of Totally Kosher, a specialist third-party caterer of Halaal and Kosher foods, established in 2005. Having been in the food and catering business for years, he spotted a gap in the market for quality food that met specific religious dietary requirements.
“What I noticed about third-party caterers was that food was rarely made on site, which could compromise religious laws. I found that product quality was also lacking. So my answer was to become a third-party supplier of Kosher and Halaal foods by building a plant and manufacturing as much as possible in-house.
The distractions set in
Though Pearce had a niche offering, he found himself being distracted by a number of different aspects of the business.
“I realised that this business had the potential to go international – we were already supplying to airlines, hotels and hospitals, and the potential to scale the business was too good to resist. To make that happen though, I’d need to market myself and my brand to generate awareness and educate the market to our offering.”
This meant Pearce started spending more and more time offsite and handing over responsibility to his accountant and business partner.
“I came back from a long tour of marketing to discover my business partner wasn’t running operations or finances properly, and my accountant had landed us in serious debt. It was a disaster on the financial, supplier and customer front – everyone was angry!”
“I realised by distraction was impacting the business and I needed to focus on the core issues of now clearing debt, paying suppliers, restoring customer faith, stream-lining and managing staff, and buying out by business partner.”
It was a whole new level of development for Pearce to focus on his own development as well as that of the business.
“I’d learnt a valuable lesson on focus and accountability. I wasn’t strong with finances so I abdicated responsibility to my accountant. I was also so eager to grow the business that I took my eye off the home-front and assumed by business partner would be able to handle things.
"That was important for me to learn was that delegating doesn’t mean taking your hands off the steering wheel – you still have to keep tabs on things because ultimately the buck stops with you.
"Delegating means you’re managing the process instead of doing it yourself. So I brushed up significantly on my financial skills, and I’m now able to oversee the work my new accountant does and have confidence that things are being done right.”