My Food Bag often gets referred to as an ‘overnight success’. The business stats have certainly supported this statement, it’s fairly common knowledge that we’ve gone from $0 to $100m in the space of 3 years.
However, reality is very different from perception. James and I often look at the journey that we’ve been on which centres on building, growing and running businesses together over the past decade. Rather than My Food Bag being a standalone overnight success story, it was actually the result of many hard lessons learned over many years.
Our entrepreneurial journey began with Au Pair Link, much less well known, but to many of those who use and rely on it – just as much of a lovemark as My Food Bag. We built Au Pair Link out of our two-bedroom apartment in central Auckland, while I was working full-time as a receptionist and studying full-time at Auckland University. At the time, James was working for Telecom (now Spark) and every additional penny we earned was put into making Au Pair Link as successful as possible. For long periods, our income would be put into the business to pay staff wages.
Through the years of owning Au Pair Link, we learned a huge amount of lessons and wore several different hats. I can truly say that I know what it’s like to do everything. From the office manager, to the accountant (I hear our finance team yelp), to the only salesperson, and ultimately, the Director/Owner (and all the responsibility that comes with that).
The foundation and breadth of knowledge that we acquired through running Au Pair Link was immense. The mistakes that we made were many and those mistakes often challenged but also defined our journey, and ultimately, who we are and how we work. Trust me, we’ve seen it all. Well, if not all, then a lot.
I often get asked what the difference is between running a hugely successful business like My Food Bag versus a smaller NZ enterprise. Guess what? The reality of it is that often My Food Bag has been easier to run. At Au Pair Link, we frequently made long-term personal sacrifices to keep the ship afloat. We had to constantly do things on a ‘on a shoe string’ at a great personal sacrifice.
My Food Bag on the other hand has had the ability to be able to support fast growth by bringing in amazing people and subsequent processes. We figured out early on that we couldn’t just pour in some personal savings to save the ship – the ship had to be built right in the first place.
I look back at our time and our journey, and while we’ve had some very challenging moments, I wouldn’t change any of them. At the end of the day, the journey has brought us to where we are now. We couldn’t be happier.
So ,if you are currently on a journey, stop thinking of the end destination. Break your journey into pieces and look at each station as a milestone. I can promise you, while times are tough – the lessons you learn along the way can be the most valuable ones of your life.