While it may seem like the road less travelled, many have been before you when it comes to starting a business. Co-owner and founder of Farro Fresh, Janene Draper, spoke at our Deloitte Private Club in Auckland this month, sharing her stories of navigating new markets to grow in. She also delved into what it means to be a good business owner and allow your business to grow well.
Often referred to as its customers' ‘happy place to shop for groceries’, Farro Fresh has built a reputation as a stand-out contender in the food retail space. Starting out in 2006 with a team of 12, Farro Fresh now has a staff of 360 with four stores - and they're growing at a rate of 20 per cent per year. Farro Fresh also has up to 550 suppliers delivering into each individual store, meaning tight relationships with suppliers are built, but a whole lot more paper work is required.
As many business owners know, entering into new markets or locations can be risky. And it was no different for Janene and husband James when they decided to take their business into Hamilton, a couple of years after opening their first stores in Auckland.
Once up and running in the Hamilton, however, Janene and James found the market did not meet their growth expectations and, in the end, they made the hard call to exit their venture in the city.
"Learning to pull out of an investment is a tough decision, but often it can be essential to move forward," says Janene.
Investing in learning how to manage
Janene knows that establishing a business in the early days is about putting in the hours.
“If you don’t then someone else will. In the early days I put in over 80 hours a week."
In saying that, Janene now knows that part of being a good leader for your business means knowing when to step back and learning how to delegate to team members. An important question she learned to ask herself was, ‘What do I love doing and what am I good at?’
“I was becoming burnt out by the business and had very little work-life balance. James then suggested I do the Icehouse Owner/Manager Programme and it was life changing. It helped me focus on what was important and what I could outsource. We had many people who wanted to do these roles within the company that I had been doing myself, and they were ready to step up."
What does the future hold?
The future is exciting for Farro, as peoples' ‘happy place’ continues to seek out the best artisan products to stock on their shelves. Janene knows that the online scene will be a big part of their growth. They go online in the New Year and are expanding their Farro Foodkits too, which contain ingredients for specific recipes that are delivered to your home. She is also a big advocate for social responsibility, mentioning that no matter whether you have a plastic, paper or fabric bag, all are good to shop with as long as you can reuse them!