By Kevin Bath, founder of JimJams
It’s often said that great business ideas solve a problem. I completely stand by this.
My wife and I came up with the concept of our business, JimJams, on this very basis. We have two young children who follow in our footsteps in their love of all things sweet. The trouble is, we all know the many downsides of indulging too much in sugar-laden treats. We really struggled to find a healthier alternative to their much-loved chocolate spread – and this was something they always wanted on their toast at breakfast time.
We searched far and wide, but could only find products packed with sugar. So, we took matters into our own hands and just started making it ourselves.
The kids loved it and it wasn’t long before our family and friends wanted us to make it for them too. It was then that we realised we could be on the cusp of something big! Initially, I tried to keep up my job in London while running JimJams on the side. It was a nightmare. So much so that it led me to leave my ‘proper’ job in the City to focus solely on my own business – and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Of course, my daily routine is now completely different to what it was a few years ago, but I’m 100% happier running JimJams than I’ve been in any role I’ve had before.
Alongside my two wonderful children, Evie and Jack, we also have a dog. Most days, the first thing I do is take him for a walk – I find that the time outside allows me to clear my head and prioritise what I need to do. Being organised is the key to a successful start-up in my opinion. My half-hour stroll helps to provide clarity on exactly what I need to do when I get to the office.
As with most business owners, I suspect, I spend my mornings checking that everything is running smoothly. I’ll often be in the office from 8.30am, and I’ll spend the first hour reading through emails and responding to queries. I’ll also take stock of the outstanding orders on our books – I like to be very hands-on. I’m perhaps a bit of a control freak, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing as a business owner.
If I get the time, I’ll enjoy lunch in the office – a chocolate spread sandwich of course – given we have a good supply…
My afternoons are when I have the time to focus on growing the business. My wife and I have put our hearts and souls into JimJams and it’s paying off. We’re now stocked in major supermarkets, and we’re proud owners of a Great Taste Award. But to achieve this success; there’s lots of planning involved.
I’ll often devote time in the afternoon to reviewing sales leads and driving new business. Afternoons are also when we often have meetings with our retailers.
Every work day is different, which I love. One afternoon I could be talking to manufacturers, the next I could be at Sainsbury’s head office talking about a new product that we want to develop, or sharing samples at a fashionable health-food retailer like WholeFoods.
Throughout the day I’ll find the time to check in on our social media accounts. It’s so rewarding to hear positive feedback, it gives me a real boost. The ultimate compliment was receiving a thumbs-up from TV personality Davina McCall on Twitter. My wife jokes that I think we’re friends now!
Although I never switch off completely, I enjoy spending my evenings with family and friends. It’s important to me to keep a good balance between work and play.
The biggest difference I find in running my own business now is at the weekend. My job is no longer Monday to Friday, and if there are relevant food shows at the weekend we will be there. But I love it. I can actually enjoy my family life alongside my business better now, whereas before I was always fighting a battle between focusing on either work or family. Now I’m away from that situation, I realise just how stressful it was. And gone are the days of the dreaded Sunday evening feeling.
When I was still working in the City and starting up JimJams, I found myself worn out. I’d spend my days at work, and my nights focused on the business. When we decided to take the plunge two-and-a-half years ago it was daunting. We put all of our savings into the business, and with the help of a £25k loan from the Start Up Loans Company, we were ready to go. It’s great to think that a simple idea has turned into a profitable family business – all based on our love of chocolate spread!