Originally from Syracuse, New York, Melissa Burton is currently managing director at confectionary brand Goody Good Stuff. In September 2011, Burton was featured as one of North West Business Insider’s 42 Under 42 leading business figures. She was also named Best Entrepreneur in Europe, the Middle East and Africa at The Stevie Awards in November 2011. Prior to her work with Goody Good Stuff, Burton founded financial advisory firm Burton Mortgage Services, which she grew to triple digit figures in three years. Wishing to diversify further, she added business rescue, the management of a large scale property portfolio and commercial lending to her list of growing business expertise.
Q: What motivated you to get involved with the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry?
A: I wanted to create a great tasting sweet that was safe for everyone to eat – so no one got left out.
Q: How does the FMCG industry compare to other industries you’ve worked in?
A: It’s far more challenging and fast-paced but the most fun I’ve ever had!
Q: Did you have any start-up experience prior to Goody Good Stuff?
A: Yes, before Goody Good Stuff I started a financial business and a beauty salon.
Q: If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
A: Nothing – I believe every mistake is a chance to learn something new.
Q: What tips would you give entrepreneurs looking to start up a business in the FMCG industry?
A: My advice would be to find something that you love and that fills a niche for the market. Make sure you carry out a feasibility test and then give it everything you’ve got!
Q: When does a great idea become a viable business?
A: When it serves a market need.
Q: What are your thoughts on starting a business during the recession?
A: It’s very difficult to start a business anytime and I believe there are considerable opportunities in both a boom or bust market. Goody Good Stuff was born in the economic downturn, but we have still managed to grow in a difficult climate for enterprise. One of the biggest tests we face is educating both the trade and the consumer markets on the benefits and differences that Goody Good Stuff has to offer, with very little marketing budget.
Q: How important do you think the role of a mentor is in the initial start-up period of a business? Did you have someone to fit this role?
A: I think that having a mentor or role model to bounce ideas off is great. However, it’s also important to follow your own instincts and forge your own path. I had some great people around me, but none of them would really fit the stereotypical mentor role.
Q: How important do you consider product diversification to be in the expansion of a business?
A: I believe that product diversification can be beneficial, but it’s equally important not to dilute your brand and its specialty.
Q: What steps do you take to keep ahead of your competitors?
A: We create products which are truly unique and cannot be duplicated…. that helps a lot!
Q: Do you find it difficult to maintain a work/home life balance?
A: Absolutely – I have given everything I am to this business and feel truly blessed as I love it, but one of my goals for 2012 is to ensure I take more time out for friends, family and fun.
Q: What inspired you to set up your business in the UK instead of the USA? Are there any specific advantages to having a business in the UK?
A: I started my business in the UK by chance but I do believe there are some significant benefits to being entrepreneurial here as opposed to the US. Firstly, there are great government programmes like the Enterprise Investment Scheme and various apprenticeship partnerships, which can really help a fledgling business get off the ground. Secondly, the market is touchable – you can drive from one end of the country and back in a day, which means you can have a much better grasp of what your target market is concerned with and looking for.
Q: What do consider to be the advantages and disadvantages of running your own business?
A: Advantages – Pride in creating jobs and products that make a positive difference in the world.
Disadvantages – Not being able to switch off!
Q: What is the single most important thing you can do to be successful in business?
A: Learn from your mistakes. I always say: “At the time we did the best we could…..but now we know better so we will do better!”
Q: What three pieces of advice would you give an entrepreneur planning to start a business?
- Find something you love. If you don’t love it, you will find the commitment too much to bear.
- Make sure that you are realistic. Ask yourself, is your passion answering a question that people are asking?
- Surround yourself with great people, support them and they will support you in return.