This article was co-written with Suzi Croft, co-founder, Appetite Group.
It’s one thing to start a business- it’s another thing altogether to keep it running sustainably and successfully over a number of years. We started Appetite over 11 years ago, when we saw a gap in the market for wholesome, grab-n-go food. As a small enterprise that started in Dubai with just two employees, we have since managed to achieve great success over the years, and now, more than a decade later, the Appetite Group umbrella includes homegrown concepts like 1762 Deli, 1762 Stripped, and more. It’s been a long journey getting here, and for those of you entrepreneurs just starting out on this ride, here are a few tips that we think can help you along with this trip:
1. Build a good team spirit Creating the right company culture is always a challenge. Over the years, we have been very lucky to have some of the best and brightest join us on our journey. At the end of the day, every aspect of our company is made up of people, and happy people perform, not only at their jobs, but also in their personal friendships, and work relationships.
2. Creativity is key Creativity plays a pivotal role in our company, maybe more so then others. We’re hitting this in every department, from our interiors, product development, marketing, and all the way up to staff uniforms. We strive to bring in creative minds into the mix at any opportunity as it plays a central position in our daily discussions.
3. Keep up with technology 2017 is the year of digital for us. An important factor in any industry now is to stay loose and nimble. Technology is changing daily (though we still can’t see the day of eating a digital sandwich!), and it touches heavily in our operational effectiveness and marketing department. As in all things with our business, we try to stay one step ahead of the game, whether that’s bringing new foods in to the mix, or ensuring we’re connecting with people on the right platform. As much as this comes in to play, we will always place value, and endeavor to have that human touch behind the scenes, to bring warmth and openness in to our brands.
4. Stay true to your values Product consistency has always been a challenge. Weather patterns change, ingredients shift, trends differ. Making sure we put out to market a consistent offering that ticks all the boxes, whilst staying on point to our company values is the challenge. That’s why we sample, taste, and push for feedback every day, whilst still keeping one eye on the future.
5. Think global We have a fantastic consumer base in the UAE; it’s one of the most diverse in the region, full of brilliant minds and forward thinking people. The downside of this is that people aren’t always here for the long haul. The world is a much smaller place now and people move around constantly, this means our connectivity becomes dated very quickly. Tackling this is a self-discipline to constantly shout and be out in the lime light. We bring in new friends and customers, and slowly but surely build a strong global brand reputation.
6. Customers need to come first (always) Product, service, and strategy: these are the three supporting points of any hospitality business. Food tasting has become a daily ritual for us. We draw inspiration from around the globe, and always push to innovate ahead of the competition in every aspect of our business. Service aspects, we cover with very thorough hiring policies to ensure an amazing management team, and the strategy side is tackled on our aspirations to lead the food and beverage industry in the Middle East.
Finally, our advice for entrepreneurs setting out on building their enterprises: it’s a lot of hard work. Nothing will prepare you for that, but on the flip side, you’ll never feel happier having produced something so beautiful for yourself. Focus on location, product and service- if you hit the big three, you certainly won’t be too far off the mark.