“To be a market leader, you have to be prepared to try to deal with disappointment when things don’t work out, think outside the box and be brave,” recalled Kim Thompson, 59, an expat from New Zealand living in the United Arab Emirates. Joined. and beliefs that she developed after being inspired by her father’s advice to work hard.
“My father did not agree with my mother working, since he considered his main job to be family and home. He also did not believe in credit cards or loans, he worked hard and managed his financial responsibilities, stress and disappointments in private, but he was very cautious and safe.
Thompson is not risk averse but loves a challenge.
She did not grow up in a privileged or wealthy family or a family of entrepreneurs. “I felt lucky to have had my upbringing where my parents took care of essential needs. We lived in a small town in Nelson, South Island of New Zealand with 30,000 (population), on the coast, with beautiful beaches, mountains and national parks .”
“We had a lot of freedoms and there was a lot of fresh food, clean air and water, a great place to raise a family. We didn’t have international holidays, but I rode horses, I did many other sports and I had a happy environment.” -education class”.
He loved horses and his family bought him a horse. “We rented some land and I competed in full 3-day trials. This is not a cheap sport and I was so grateful to be able to pursue this passion because I knew what it cost my parents in both money and time.”
She received no pocket money, but occasionally babysat to earn pocket money.
I would live day to day, spending all my salary in the first fortnight of the month. I knew nothing about budgeting, interest rates, or saving.
Thompson was an oncology nurse, a specialist nurse who cares for cancer patients, before becoming an entrepreneur.
She left home at age 15, desperate to escape and explore, spending nearly four years in the old system, with practical training beginning in the lock room to become a registered nurse. “I wasn’t ready for the adult world.
“I lived every day, spending all my salary in the first half of the month. I knew nothing about budgeting, interest rates or saving. I shudder when I remember how cheaply I could have bought a house, for example, but happily paid rent” Thompson shared.
“I learned about money the hard way, living paycheck to paycheck, but even at a young age, I was aware that I wanted a different life to explore and travel.”
Thompson’s founding in his younger years gave him clues as to how he should not have lived.
“It was only after completing my nursing and backpacking Southeast Asia through India, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia and Indonesia that I woke up to recognize that I had opportunities from where I was born that many other women did not. It would be criminal to waste these opportunities.”
Thompson moved to Dubai in 1997 with her husband, then a full-time mother of three girls, and did not work for several years.
His first experience was running a cafe inside the old Jebel Ali Yacht Club in 2005.
“It was a bustling cafe and I had no previous experience in the food and beverage (F&B) industry, so I learned on the job, navigating between vendors, finding the right team, retaining them, managing the customer experience and always, the flow of box. Coffee was financially viable, but the most challenging job I’ve ever done.”
With the development of Dubai Marina and JBR, the yacht club closed and I suddenly had time to reflect and decide what I wanted to do. During the operation of the yacht club, I had not been able to source good quality locally roasted coffee or find any support for our baristas or teams. So I identified a gap in the market and had the confidence to start my own business, RAW Coffee Company, in June 2007.
What were the different expenses required to start this business?
To start a limited liability company and obtain a business license in 2007, he said he needed Dh300,000 and a rental agreement. She self-financed the business using her savings.
What is an LLC in the United Arab Emirates?
Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the most common form of business in the UAE. A Limited Liability Company can be formed by a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 50 shareholders whose liability is limited to their shares in the capital stock.
“I registered the name, found a company to design a logo, devised a business plan, and outfitted the warehouse with an office, green bean storage, roasting and packing facilities, and meeting spaces. I purchased the manufacturing equipment, the espresso and a small amount, hired the first team to join me and recruited a consultant.
“The initial Dh300,000 required to open the company became our working capital to set up the business. I took an additional Dh300,000 through a bank loan, did not receive a salary for the first five years, and reinvested the money we earned into the business. business.”
Matt Toogood joined Thompson as a business partner early in the third year and is now a 50 percent partner in the business.
He also worked without salary for three years, and they focused on knowledge, organic growth, and building a strong ethical supply chain and foundation for the company.
Thompson’s business, from the beginning, had a constant stream of mistakes and oversights.
“We made several mistakes, such as choosing the wrong location for the first manufacturing plant (DIP or Dubai Investment Park), hiring the wrong consultant who repeated the operating procedures, recipes and processes of a previous employer and had no local knowledge or deep understanding of roasting. or coffee,” Thompson said.
They faced multiple delays that meant the first employees had very little to do. “We had no way to roast our green beans, so we bought cheap coffee from supermarkets and installed a commercial espresso machine in our kitchen so we could at least get barista training.
“Then another new, better financed coffee business sabotaged our initial operation, discrediting us in the market in our early years as we tried to establish our reputation,” he added.
“I had a lot of investment and no fundamental knowledge, I was effectively ahead of them as I had the warehouse, the roasting equipment and a consultant. However, they offered the consultant more money, which meant I had to learn for myself how to do everything.
We made several mistakes, such as choosing the wrong location for the first manufacturing plant, hiring the wrong consultant, etc.
“I would never choose to repeat our early years, trying to run a business without enough cash and constantly up to date. But it allowed us to learn every ins and out of the industry as we had to do the jobs ourselves. This gave us a solid foundation to build the company, as we had in-depth knowledge of all aspects of our specialized industry.
Lessons Thompson Learned During His Career, Business Journey
Lesson: love what you do, but budget and be prepared to have more costs than initially expected.
Thompson began his professional journey late in life, at age 40; once, all three of her daughters had grown up. Before that, she had done part-time jobs, then worked at the cafe, but never in a business.
His friends, who owned their own businesses, often told him to expect things to take much longer than anticipated and cost more.
He admitted that for the first 18 months he was constantly putting out fires. “The installation costs were three times what she had budgeted and no money was coming in.”
It was a very difficult start for her, but she said some things that she did well. “I chose to play in the right niche of the market with high quality specialty grade Arabica coffee, and the timing was perfect.
“I like to ignore what happened to me in the past. Every time something harmful happened to me, I learned from it and not to repeat those mistakes or misjudgments. As an entrepreneur, I would not advise anyone to start a business without triple the initial investment planned,” Thompson added.
Lesson: Reinvest profits back into your business for organic expansion.
Once Thompson’s business started selling produce and making a profit, she and her business partner reinvested in buying better and more stock of green beans, while also employing key people with better skills in certain high-level positions. .
“We didn’t have any investment in the early days because we were a risk and no one wanted to lend us money. Access to trade finance wasn’t possible at reasonable interest rates, so we grew organically, having full control over our destiny,” Thompson explained. . .
“I don’t think, especially with the challenges of the last two years with COVID-19, that many small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have had the luxury of worrying about investments. It has been more fundamental than that, worrying about the financial viability, obligations and responsibilities and business continuity of our team.
We didn’t have any investment in the early days because we were a risk and no one wanted to lend us money.
“We expected to be hit by the health crisis, and we’re starting to see this now with higher costs and we’ve switched gears, knowing we’re going to have to be very aggressive and resourceful over the next year. We also started two new businesses during COVID-19 that they self-funded with other supporting products in the food and beverage cafe space.”
She follows an old-fashioned strategy to make a real estate investment. “I have built a beautiful house in Bali as an investment property, but I don’t have the proper understanding of cryptocurrencies, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) or metaverses.”
“I am planning to buy a house here in a new development next year, but honestly, we are still reinvesting to expand our business and have ambitious plans for its future,” he further revealed.