Successful business owner Crispin Busk founded Kabuto Noodles in 2010, having been inspired to create the business after discovering a gap in the market between the ready noodles stocked in supermarkets and the noodle dishes available in restaurants.
Kabuto Noodles were born and are now stocked by Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Wholefoods and independent stores across the UK.
We chatted with Crispin and found out about his business background as well as his top tips to any budding business owner wanting to start a new venture.
Q. What were you doing before you decided to create Kabuto Noodles?
CB: I had been working at Pieminster for five years. The company was originally founded by brother-in-laws Jon Simons and Tristan Hogg. They produce quality pies for restaurants, farmers markets, some supermarkets and have food stands at big festivals like Glastonbury. Pieminster was launched in 2003, so it was a great experience for me working in a small medium enterprise (SME) that was still in the early stages. I learnt a lot during my time there, it was really useful seeing what worked well and the things I would do differently if I started my own business.
Q. Is Kabuto your first business venture?
CB: I did once try to set up an online business called Goharder.com, it sold ginseng tablets meant to help with fitness and training. I hadn’t really researched the product or the concept properly so the venture never really took off. It was still a useful experience, I learnt from my mistakes and what I needed to improve on before launching Kabuto.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced starting your own business?
CB: It might sound strange but the most difficult thing I found starting out on my own was the psychological jump, mentally going from an employee to your own boss. There’s a real fear about leaving a ‘safe’ job and going out on your own.
Q: What are your top tips for starting your own business?
- You have to take your business seriously and believe in what you are doing. If you don’t believe in your concept no-one else will.
- Make sure you do your research – with Google and the internet there is no excuse! Find out about your market, customers, competitors and suppliers.
- Read business books. They aren’t all boring or cheesy, they can be really useful. I’d recommend A Book About Innocent: Our Story and Some Things We’ve Learned by the founders of Innocent Smoothies and Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Business Man by Yvon Chouinard.
- Do as much as you can while you’re still employed. It takes time to get your business off the ground so the longer you are still earning money the better.
- Talk to people. When I started out I spent a lot of time calling people and asking for help. I didn’t know anything about packaging or flavouring before I started Kabuto Noodles, and took a lot of false turns, but people are generally nice and want to help. If someone can’t help they can often point you in the right direction.
- Make sure you do proper financial planning. You need to understand your finances as they underpin your entire venture, always keep on top of your cash flow.
- Don’t underestimate how long it will take to get up and running – it always takes longer than you think. I started researching my business concept in August 2009 and we didn’t have our finished product until January 2011.
- Go for it!
Q. What do you think of schemes like Start Up Loans?
CB: Anything the government does helps – whether it’s Start Up Loans finance or the business mentoring, they may not be right for everyone or not everyone may qualify, but as long as it helps some people then it’s worth it.
Q: Any finally what has been your proudest moment since founding Kabuto Noodles?
CB: Getting up and running was our first major achievement, taking our concept from an idea through to a physical product. Obviously getting the first order was a huge deal, but getting a repeat order was probably even more exciting as we knew we were right and we had a great product.