Sometime today a lever arched file wrapped in brown paper will be delivered to our local Welsh Government Office. It marks the culmination of months of hard work, of arguing, stressing, sleepless nights, emails, phone calls and research trips. Today our grant application for our processing facility will be submitted. It’s taken me from November 2010 to get to this point – full product development, planning permission, environmental permits, equipment research and then the mammoth task of collating quotations for everything down to the last screw. I think it’s fair to say that we’re lucky in Wales to have so many grant streams open to businesses and I can well understand the criticism that we have a grant culture. However, I can honestly say that the 40 page application, 40+ page marketing plan, the 87 quotes and the full lever arch file of appendices, financials and backing documentation is by far the biggest piece of work I’ve ever completed. As I drove away from my last meeting before the documents were sent to quality control I felt pretty emotional. I felt weak, sick even, as a wave of adrenaline and a great sense of relief washed over me.
At the beginning of my journey a very wise consultant took a tour of our proposed building and said, straight-out “it’s going to cost you £250,000 to set this up as a charcuterie business”. At the time, with eyes full of wonder and naivety I thought to myself, ‘£120,000 maybe, £150,000 tops’, how wrong was I. Our total project cost came in at £238,000 and if I take into consideration the costs already incurred, he’s pretty much on the button. There’s a reason why there aren’t lots of charcuterie businesses about the place, it’s a costly, tough old game and you need a driving passion to get onto your feet. Admittedly I could have started smaller, but my mother always says “prynwch rad, prynwch eilwaith” which roughly translates to “buy cheap, buy twice” and I wanted to take my time, lay the groundwork and future proof the building so that I could grow as a business without having to waste the little capital that I have on the wrong thing.
I’d like to give thanks to our customers, for supporting us, for signing our petitions at markets, adding their names online to our ipetition, for writing letters of support for the business and generally for providing great honest feedback on products. I’m really lucky to have customers from all walks of life who’ve been able to contribute whether through contacts, suggestions or recommendations that have helped us to grow our networks.
I’m by no means at the end of the journey, I’m £20,000 short of my total, and I’ll be begging for cash via Kickstarter quite soon to bridge that gap. There’s no guarantee that I’ll be successful with my grant application either, but I know I’ve given it a damn good shot.