Hello! I’m Cat, founder of Vigour & Vice, a hospitality consultancy business. I first set up the company in Singapore, when after having worked there for 2 years I noticed a gap in the market for management expertise on a short-term, project basis. I moved to South Africa in 2018 and set up the company there as well, believing that the consultancy and business model would work anywhere, as pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants struggle with common financial and operational issues.
I returned to the UK in February 2020, just before Covid hit, and like many people spent the next couple of months trying to get to grips with what was happening in the world and what it meant for me, my company and my industry.
Many of the questions I asked myself went unanswered, being in such an uncertain and paralyzing moment in time. But I knew if anything I needed to keep busy and stay focussed in order to get through it, so I set about building my network and reaching out to people, to start putting together a plan for my future.
I attended a fantastic event by Plan B Mentoring which involved 5 one-on-one break-out sessions with some of the UK’s biggest names in Hospitality. During one of these sessions it was suggested to me that I seek external investment to support the launch of the consultancy business in the UK. The event also provided me with a business mentor who supported and guided me during a really challenging time.
Fast forward to January 2021 and the business has now launched in the UK with private investment firm Edition Capital.
What does it mean to be an Entrepreneur?
The definition of entrepreneurship is “starting or running a business, especially when this involves taking financial risks, and the ability to do this”.
What I find interesting about the definition is the word “ability”. This of course means having the financial resources available to take such risks, but also having the willingness and conviction that it’s the right thing to do.
There are four key principles that helped me develop that conviction in myself and my ideas, and to embrace what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Risk vs. Reward
People don’t often associate the idea of entrepreneurialism with pressure and responsibility, but one of the major lessons I’ve learnt is that being an entrepreneur involves dealing with the constant pressure to perform and being responsible for your decisions, not only to yourself and your business but to the people that have backed you.
You hope the rewards will come but more often than not it’s a long game and there are plenty of hurdles to overcome in the meantime. Being your own boss has its benefits, but as with most things, it’s a trade off.
Unique Ideas vs. Unique Selling Points
Entrepreneurialism isn’t necessarily about having an epiphany about a product or service that will dramatically change the world and people’s lives.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t about being an inventor, it’s about being an innovator. There are plenty of companies out there that aren’t executing their product or service very well, or they don’t have the right people or culture to make an impact in their sector. You might be the only unique thing needed to make an established concept really work, with a few tweaks that showcase your unique skills and ideas. Having the conviction to put yourself out there and to really back yourself in a challenging and competitive market is what makes the difference.
Success vs. Failure
The great quote from Winston Churchill, that “success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” rings ever true for an entrepreneur. What I’ve personally learnt from this is that it’s not just a mental state that you have to adopt when acknowledging that failure is an inherent part of success. To overcome the failures that happen as often, if not more often, than the perceived successes of setting up your own company, you need to be proactive and take action based on the learnings. If you get knocked back or rejected or let down, find a workaround. Be resourceful, tap into all of the available resources and knowledge banks you have at your disposal to adjust and try again. By taking steps to achieve something as a result of a failing, it turns the failing into a tangible success in its own right.
Work Hard vs. Work Smart
There really aren’t any shortcuts worth taking. You have to be ready to do the groundwork and the grunt-work for an idea or business to really take hold in your mind, and later, in the market. Working 16 hour days in bars, restaurants and events as a matter of course for 15 years gave me the depth and breadth of experience I needed to design my product and effectively run my business now.
That said, efficiency is also one of my core values, so working smart is just as important as working hard. The most creative environment I’ve worked in as an Ops Manager was for a company run by a branding and marketing guru in Singapore and one of her philosophies was DNR – do not resuscitate. When an idea is dead or just isn’t working, DNR. Move on, be flexible, by dynamic in your assessment of what went wrong and what could work instead. Then invest your efforts and energy in bringing new ideas to life.