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Creating Vegan Businesses With Purpose | Loui Blake

Hello firstly disclaimer I didn’t consciously coordinate my outfit with the slides so yeah so am essentially what I’m going to talk about is to provide a little bit of background for context and to try and offer some actionable advice if you like for the last 12 years of having my own business many many downs and a few ups to talk about I believe that if tomorrow the demand for animal products goes away companies will stop using animals in those products I also believe that big business in capitalism isn’t necessarily bad it’s just unconscious and as a result we need more entrepreneurs in this space but as entrepreneurs we have an obligation to be transparent and drink to paint a true picture of what actually the way actually takes to allow people to make an informed decision as to whether it’s a lifestyle they want to lead and I also believe the next slide should give them where everyone a little bit of a laugh that was me age 16 and at 16 I I wasn’t very good at school and I didn’t really like being told what to do how that would then play out in terms of working life years I realized very early on that I didn’t want to work for anyone else and that would render me basically unemployable what also happened at that time was pretty much a life-changing event in that I’d started coaching football because I was so passionate about football but I was also aware that I wasn’t good enough to play professionally but one of my friends I grew up with was killed in an incident and I was standing next to him and it kind of put this just flipped everything I thought I knew and it brought this real realization that life is so short and that I didn’t wanna wake up every day and do something that was meaningless so that I didn’t care about so as a result of that I threw myself into football and that summer I worked every single day a football camp getting there early setting the goals up tying kids laces picking pounds up anything they would let me do completely unpaid and in the evenings I go and watch the more experience coaches coach for a year I didn’t I did I left all the stuff that I should have been doing running around causing trouble and I really just focused on learning how to be a coach at the same time at 16 I set up my first little business which was coaching kids football privately and I used the money to fund my qualifications and over the next two years I passed the as many courses I could get on and I became the youngest person in the country to pass away for coaching license at 18 I don’t know how much you guys know about football but there’s not many full-time what jobs in football and you can’t really make any money out of it or so I was told so I looked to America and there’s so much money in football there that I took a job in New York and I went off by myself at 18 and in the state’s obviously the drinking age is 21 and I didn’t know anybody so I literally spent a year coaching football in the daytime see my mates on Facebook back here being out and being drunk and in the evenings are going watch the more experienced coaches after year of that I went to Mexico and Mexico City was Dennis that is a very dangerous place so I couldn’t even go out there really and I instead coached football during the day worked on it at night and I started looking really into personal development and I read a book called the master key system which effectively talks about how you can visualize an end product and reverse-engineer it in your mind and if you go back to it every day you can manifest it in your life and what I thought I wanted to do at that point was to move back to Norwich where I was from and open a kid’s football academy and every I didn’t have any money I didn’t have any savings I didn’t my family didn’t particularly have the money to support it but every day I would wake up and I would visualize this Football Academy got to got to 20 and decided to move back and just try and make it happen I’m having two months I’d managed to set one up on a subscription-based model that I’d learn but what I didn’t realize was that cash flow is so important and it was running out of money very quickly and I couldn’t afford to pay myself so M I started I found there was a nightclub in Norwich that after seeing all the nightlife in New York and in London everywhere no one was doing that kind of nightlife in Norwich but was a lot of young people that were bored so I would negotiate with a club give me their quietest night let me take the door money and they could take the bar money I developed this brand that I thought was aspirational that looked called him to tie people in and the first week 800 people turn up and pay five pounds for I’m on to something here so that allowed me to support the grow for the football academy it also led into doing events in other cities and I was able to grow that events business to the point where I was able to buy a nightclub when I got so I got to 21 nearly 22 had a nightclub an events company in a football academy but the problem was that I built it on such shaky foundations and it was all what started being about purpose and helping kids learn football and putting the events on the people that were bored became all about money and rather than reinvestment and my businesses I put a Rolex I’ve got a Mercedes I bought the most expensive apartment I could find and it became very material focused and I guess I’ve got a little bit lost like the big companies I mentioned where I started valuing profit over purpose and that’s what I believe is happening at the moment so what want to talk about today is what the model that I developed for myself to revert back to if ever I caught myself doing that again and I did and I’ll come on to it in a moment so and then good analogy to think about in terms of purpose and profit is red blood cells so your body has to produce red blood cells to survive but you don’t exist just to produce red blood cells and that’s like a business you have to produce profit to survive and spread your message but that’s not the only reason you exist and if that’s the case it won’t last very long so how so how do you set that up so what happens after that is when I said about bad foundations my business partner and I had different ambitions I wanted to go to London and grow and events company there at the same time because I was trying to run free businesses at once who have no knowledge and how to do so the Football Academy partner and pulled that business from under me and the lease on the nightclub ran out and all of a sudden from having all this success or what I thought was success at the time I was back to square one so I moved to London start a new events company got a new business partner ended up buying another nightclub got to the point where we had events in 10 cities all over the country and again bad foundations back to square one I’ll talk about what happened after that in a moment but I basically developed this model that would allow me at any point to come back to and get myself sorted again and get back on that on on the right path so three parts I want to talk about entrepreneurship business and how that’s applicable to a vegan vegan environment so entrepreneur and it’s one of those terms now as getting is getting thrown around and it’s almost glamorized but in those early days of tines kid shoelaces and sweeping sick off the club floor etc it wasn’t very glamorous to me I believe there’s three things you need to consider if you’d like to be an entrepreneur it’s not this trust me it doesn’t make you happy first is what you’d passionate about will you really care about because ultimately like I realized at a young age you need to have something you want to wake up to every day I feel excited about going to it can be a passion within a passion so it could be you could be really passionate about veganism but you could also love food for example as we heard grace say earlier so writing down what you need uniquely passionate about what you uniquely skill that so if you’re not sure ask the five people closest to you what did they think you’re good at and it really helps to put this into words and actually write a list so what are my skill dating skills can change and develop over time the skills I have now a difference in the skills I had when I was younger but they can compound over time in that I was talking in front of groups of parents at 20 introducing football academies so I feel a little bit more comfortable doing it now so it’s amazing how those skills can come back around and then what are my assets and you may say I don’t have any well we all have time as a 16 year old I had loads of time so I was happy to go in tie shoelaces and pick up combs to learn the craft when you have a list of each of these things you can look at what occurs at the it but what occurs at the intersection and you’ll be surprised what you find and Hammett you can create businesses roll and jobs around the intersection of those things it may be like Scott said alongside a job you may be really passionate about vegan food a fantastic writer with access to a laptop internet sometime in the evenings you start a food blog reviewing reviewing huge food on the side for example little tip is to work harder on yourself in any business something that I wasn’t really conscious of at the time but what I find now really helps me is the first hour of every day is personal development it’s meditation stretching reading making lists you have to work hard on yourself the business may disappear but you are still there you are the driving force behind it one thing I’ll say well this is the work you’re doing yourself compounds over time so if you invest time of yourself from young age you reap the benefits of that throughout your life rather than waiting so you have some time your later or you’re finished particular projects or whatever so really think about working hard on yourself business I’ve got a kind of a simple definition of a business because I think people really over complicate it and the definition is business is creative solutions to problems in a way that’s win-win that’s a profit and I’m gonna explain each little part of that for those of the thinking of starting a business firstly though there is no rules there are absolutely no rules my current business didn’t exist ten years ago therefore the the employment model of of what I should do or as told I should do for my business a nine-to-five on set wages runnin sense advised doesn’t work in a social media agency what happens when we need to reply to an inbox message at 10 p.m. and the person finished work at 5 is that person motivated by being paid the same as somebody else in the team who does double the work so to get the rules if you look at the companies they’re innovating and bringing about change at the moment they don’t have any experience in that industry don’t get me wrong there are there are air ways of doing things that have proven to be work but don’t be scared if you don’t know the industry uber didn’t know anything about taxis Airbnb didn’t know anything about hotels so don’t worry if you don’t particularly know the industry so the three points so creative solution is a problem when it’s a problem when you think problems I advise you to think about it in three stages who mr. market segment that has the problem secondly how is that is the problem already being solved and identify how it’s being solved is it a problem that many people have and will it still be a problem in three years time now in veganism we’re fortunate we have so many problems so you’ve got loads to pick from here secondly what is your point of difference what’s your differentiating value proposition what’s your USP what makes your products stand out so think about how you can maybe deliver it in a unique way how you can come up with a brand that is uniquely positioned and then what is the product you’d be amazed how many people are so purposeful in their business and they really solving a problem they’ve got a really great point of difference that products crap so spend time thinking about what the product is and test it produce small volumes work with one person do it for free so many people want to start a business and start earning money from day one they didn’t do that graph they didn’t put in the time doing it for free if you want to you want to be a want to be a PR agent um experience it come and do it for someone put the time in it’s not as simple as starting a business creating a business putting it out there making money quitting your job life’s brilliant it doesn’t work like that so when I say win-win what do I mean traditional model for business is that you look after certain groups first in the 80s we have this this layoff thing where we’d essentially try and balance the books by prioritizing shareholder value and prioritizing me to the shareholders over the people that actually work in the business I was taught in the first nightclub I had that we should pay suppliers right at the last minute and that would help our cash flow but then if the supply is getting paid late when I need the delivery on a Saturday they’re not going to help me out so what I suggest is you look at these these free sectors and you can you bring them all together under one central purpose okay so what that means is then this is from the get-go if your priority is profit you will categorize who’s and valuable than itch you would do things that on a gun in line with your values when the when the sensor focus is purpose and everyone’s bought into the same purpose if your suppliers working with you because they believe what you believe they will go out of their way to support you if your shareholders really believe what you believe when you were supposed to make but make X amount of money on six months in but you haven’t you revert back to the purpose and they’re more prepared to help you because they believe what you’re trying to do we retired in emotionally if you work with the community in the environment the community become advocates of your product the local environment if you have been conscious of how the impacts of your business affects the local environment people see this and they will respond so it’s about using using the purpose to drive the business have everyone brought into a central purpose as opposed to purely existing for money last bit is profit and this is one thing that I always struggle with the start we because I was terrible at planning anything free things to consider a profit if you have investors communication is key do not try and hide things from them they’re there to help you and support you have you got a support network is that people that you have can have as mentors or is there it’s a thing two things you can turn to to give you information that can help you and planning can you come up with a best case solution something and then a lowest a low outcome are you prepared for that do you have it and do you have adequate cash flow do you have backup suppliers do you have that you have plans in place if things go wrong so really planning your business out properly and getting it done before you go to market or do anything this is so so true so this has been for me many times in my life is sitting in Mexico trying to draw up a business plan and I didn’t study business I got I think I got you you and economics at school and then trying to see that I would have the one of the largest football academies in the East of England with 250 players signed with but undoable thinking I’d own a nightclub when I was 22 was beyond me talking the demon in 2d when I first met them and I said where’d you want to go with this and I think I threw out going to America and Damien was like what and then over time believed in it and now it’s happened so think about doing the undoable because a lot of people aim average if I can just get to that I’ll be happy I just get so that I’d be happy nobody’s hitting for this so if you hit him for that you actually have more of a chance in my opinion and then veganism and how does it apply to veganism so I would suggest you that there’s essentially vegan businesses want to create a utopia when I put in Adobe a stock image search this is the image came not for utopia so that’s why that’s there but essentially the purpose that we have for our business that underlying purposes that we want to create a vegan world to want to create a world where people aren’t using animals as commodities where people are being conscious of the impacts their choices have on the environment on other people and on their health so with that underlying purpose I would suggest you there’s three main problems that we need to solve the first is quality or taste so when you thinking about launching a product are you solving the quality or the taste problem how are you doing it again referring back to the first the first two the first two elements of the talk are you solving the convenience element so the convenience element maybe when you’re in your lunch when someone’s on the lunch break and they nip into the local boots and there’s one falafel sandwich left and it’s all soggy but there’s 20 meat options I would suggested there’s an equal amount of vegan options most people would choose the vegan option because it just looks better and cost the problem we have at the moment is vegan companies without investment that startups cannot produce the quantity to allow the unit costs that come down to pass that discount on to the consumer and therefore vegan products are essentially more expensive than their counterparts that use animal products so how can you address the cost issue is there a way that you can to convey that you can launch products into an existing market that allows you to compete the products that the forces are them products to be driven down in cost and the competition basis and what what this all ties into is awareness so the more products that enter the market the more awareness there is you go into a supermarket and there’s a whole lyall for the vegan food people will take notice it’s putting it in front of people you guys probably not mean the way I made my parents go via my brother’s go vegan was I was literally putting food on the table every day but I try to s try this try this it’s awareness the more you expose or something the more you start to take notice so we need to if solving any of these issues we’re all contributing to the awareness of veganism and that’s one of the most important things if your business fails if it flops doesn’t matter the processes you work on yourself and becoming the driving force that can then start something else I think over that time sorry the last bits final initiative in the niche so veganism is no longer a niche it’s no longer good enough to start a vegan brands put some green on it and say we now sell vegan products come and buy it think about the niche that you’re addressing within that the world is so big and we’re all online and there’s so many people but there’s gonna be someone that’s interested in what you are interested in and what you’re really passionate about so don’t be scared of the niche being too small and it comes down to I mean this is probably 12 years in this is yeah this is 12 years in for me and my concept of success for the first eleven was how much money can I make and the problem of that is money is infinite when is a bi-product money is a you know a byproduct of success but what how do you define success for you if everyone it’s different a successful entrepreneur we see in magazines is someone with private jets and watches but what if that person wakes up every day and hates their life hates what we’re doing doesn’t contribute anything is that person successful what about the person that runs a small business that gives access to amazing foods and lots of people and they’ve helped people lead a healthier lifestyle diet but maybe doesn’t make that much money I’d argue that they’re more successful so my measure of success now is waking up every day and being inspired being passionate and really loving what I’m doing even though the money’s less and trust me as a by-product the money will come because even you’re passionate about what you’re doing you want to spread it to more people and you’ll find a way to make that happen what I would say as well is there there’s kind of an ego around and I had a massive ego around it when I when I would have businesses before and it was all about I want to look like I’m successful or I was motivated by the wrong things what veganism showed me was I need to be more conscious of how my actions every day are having an impact on other people and on the world around me and rather than just appeasing myself on my own once my own needs how can I create something that helps other people so where that’s kind of led to today after the second nightclub failing I found myself sleep on the floor an office in Brighton which is ironic because I think we had a quite an expensive car outside and expensive clothes but no money to buy a hotel I came back to doing what I knew and that was nightclubs start the recruitment company after meeting somebody in a bar and have an idea started working in social media basically got myself to burnout level where I was doing 16 hours a day getting really sick and they discovered veganism turned overnight energy levels went through the roof reverted back to my my little model and find him what I wanted to do and what came out of it was that I was all of the businesses are grown I’ve done off the back of social media that’s why new communications branding the assets that I had was access to lots of contacts that I’ve made over time and the ability to go out and meet people and etc and the new passion was veganism and helping change the perception of what veganism was so in that time I decided to set up a church that gradually started changing my social media agency to work with vegan brands and today I can say that we only work with vegan companies ethical companies I’ve left a hell of a lot of money on the table to to work with other companies but it’s about doing what you believe in and I believe that in time it will pay dividends we do work with companies that aren’t vegan to have vegan products because again I believe big business is a tool to leverage spring the message further a restaurant with 100 a restaurant claimed 100 restaurants is in a position where they can spread the message quicker than a start-up restaurant so I’m happy to work with them but ultimately end goal is to help vegan businesses so if you’re thinking about starting a business I would encourage you to look at those steps they’ve really helped me step up just get up and do it and if it fails it really doesn’t matter there’s no ego loss there’s there’s there’s no problem fail again fail again fail again I watch an interview once and this is what stayed in my mind and maybe it’s caused me to be a little too blase about failing but there was three entrepreneurs and they were all highly successful both in terms of revenue and what they were doing and when asked between them the average number of businesses they had before they were successful the answer was 18 I’m prepared to myself to get to that number and keep going because ultimately it’s what you do every day it’s being present throughout it and during the process it’s not a destination money’s not a destination it’s the process of waking up every day and loving what you do so where that leads me to now is I have a restaurant opening and then four weeks it’s free floors cafe restaurant and bar it’s fully vegan and that is me chucking everything I have into the pot and hoping praying and making it work so I encourage you to step up if you have an idea ask the help surround yourself with people that know what they’re doing and go for it if you want to connect with me that’s my information they’re also around and a thank you Damian and Judy for giving the opportunity because they actually dragged me kicking and screaming onto the stage of evolution a couple of years ago I was petrified of doing it and since then it’s opened a lot of doors for me in terms of speaking so I really appreciate it so thank you you you