Running a Hospitality Business with Indulgence Boutique Hospitality

Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
My name is Jo Robinson, I am married to Anthony with two children, Charlie 13 and Emily 1

What’s your business called?
I have two businesses, Indulgence Boutique Hospitality, an event catering company and a restaurant The Kitchen, Farnborough

Can you describe it in one sentence?
Both business are entirely for people who are serious about food or love eating great food, served with meticulous attention to detail and friendly, professional customer service.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I fell into it really, I realised that I could not have a family working all the hours I was in my previous job and it helped that my husband, Anthony, is a phenomenal chef! So it was a no brainer and have been blessed with a good work ethic and a sprinkling of luck along the way.

How did you fund your start up?
I was lucky enough to buy a flat at a young age and was able to raise a bit of capital through that and by selling everything I owned, including my car! I must also mention my amazing family who took a great leap of faith with me and gave me a loan! I had the most amazing bank manager who totally believed in my business plan and supported my application for a commercial mortgage.

How do you manage working around your children?
Even though they are older, it is still a tremendous juggle at times. Although my team are amazingly understanding that the children come first.

Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
There is absolutely no typical day. Today I have escaped from the office to work on my laptop at the most inspirational location …. Soho Farmhouse, I try and come at least once a week to clear my head, plan my diary and get stuck into anything that requires 100% focus without the welcome distractions of a busy office. Yesterday I was out of the office in meetings all day and the day before I was in the office working and planning with our brilliant team!

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
Wow, without a doubt the greatest challenge for me has been delegating and trusting others. When you are desperately let down, which has happened on more than one occasion, you just have to pick yourself up and keep on going. And each time something happens, learn from mistakes made and move on. Right now I have the best team around me I have ever had! They are all better at the jobs than I am – I have a brilliant accountant (my absolute weakness), fantastic managers and junior team who are so passionate about my businesses and looking after our clients to the best of their ability.

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
Being able to plan my own diary – I have yet to miss a Christmas play or a sports day. If the children are poorly – everything business wise takes a back seat. Although my inner mother’s guilt will whisper in my ear I still don’t do enough!
And being in control of my own destiny, however wobbly it feels at times, I am in kind of in charge!

What are your plans for the future?
I have so many ….. To keep building a brilliant team within the business, to win some interesting new contracts in 2017, live life to the full and travel with my amazing family whenever I can and spend as much time as I can with my father.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Do something you believe 100% in, act with integrity at all times and simply keep going! When you get to the stage of recruiting – do not be afraid to employ people who are better than you, all of my team are specialists in whatever area of the business they are working in – far better than me! And always remember the phrase – when the going gets tough, tough get going! Certainly the most important mantra having survived a recession with two high end, front line businesses.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
If I start I might not make it home to my children tonight ……..! But one thing is get a brilliant accountant – interview loads and make sure they have the same ethos as you. Accounts has always been my biggest weakness and I have gone through unnecessary financial pain having inept accountants people on board at times and not having a complete understanding of the money side of things. And find a business mentor – someone you admire or who has a similar outlook as you and listen to every pearl of wisdom they can offer.

If you’ve had a business that didn’t work out we’d love to Hear about it.

What was the business called and what did it do?
I bought a second restaurant when I had 2 children under 2! It transpired that the village is predominantly inhabited by quakers (not great drinkers or fans of dining out regularly!) – major rookie error on the market research.

How long did you run it for?
6 months before I cut my losses and ran for the hills, quickly! Having lost a heap of money in the process!

What do you think went wrong?
I was too arrogant to think that I could make anything work and too busy with my little ones to do enough market research!

What did you learn from it?
I didn’t have the midas touch that everyone else thought I had and I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place if I had the excellent accountant that I have now! I am much more cautious these days but without this failure I would have never founded the event catering company which is now a very successful company.