Gracie & Sophie Tyrrell are the founders of Squirrel Sisters – a health and wellness company creating award-winning healthy snacks. Here they share the ten things they wish they had known before starting a business as a lesson to every budding entrepreneur and start-up.
1. Always Trust Your Gut
If something doesn’t feel quite right then it probably isn’t. There are always a lot of big decisions to make when running your own company so take your time and if you’ve got any doubt then don’t do it. At the start of Squirrel Sisters we made a couple of decisions that we were a bit unsure about and it left us in a bit of a sticky situation so now we never do anything unless we are both 100% happy about it.
2. Passion, Persistence and Patience
We started Squirrel Sisters as a passion project, which happened to turn into a full time business. Luckily we are incredibly passionate about what we do but it’s not easy so you need passion to keep going, persistence to make it happen and patience because it doesn’t happen overnight… it takes time so stick with it!
3. Work With People That Share Your Values
Being sisters you would think that we would struggle to work together; we often get asked if we argue but we genuinely don’t We work incredibly well together because we share the same vision and have the same values, we trust each other implicitly and compliment each other perfectly because our skills our very different. We now only work with people who we feel that about, it’s so important for a long lasting partnership.
4. Give Yourself A Break
When we first started Squirrel Sisters we always felt really guilty if we took an hour out for lunch or went to a gym class at 5pm. There is this unrealistic pressure on business owners that you must be sat at your desk for all hours but it’s not productive! What we’ve learnt is that it’s about balance and being time efficient. If you’re getting the work done then it’s ok and important to take a bit of time out. There are so many pressures in this world so a bit of time out should be acceptable and it’s important so you don’t burn out.
5. Don’t Compare
It’s too easy these days with social media to compare yourselves to others and as business owners it can be dangerous; looking at other businesses and what they are doing (which if it’s on social media will only be the ‘best’ bits) can make you feel bad so we’ve learnt to let it inspire us rather than making us feel inadequate.
6. Building A Team Is Hard
We thought hiring a team would be easy but it really isn’t. Trying to find great people that share the same drive and passion for what you do is tough so when you do find someone make sure you snap them up. We had our fair share of bad hires early on in our journey but now we have the best team and hope to keep growing it.
7. Everyone Has An Opinion
When you’re new to business it can be very easy to get swayed by people’s opinions; everyone thinks they know best. We take everything with a pinch of salt these days.
We launched Squirrel Sisters using our savings but what we’ve realised is that you need investment to grow. We’ve managed to get to where we are now without any investment (we’ve been going for over 3 years now) but we’re now at a stage where we need investment to get us to the next level.
9. If It Was Easy Everyone Would Do It
Squirrel Sisters started as a blog, it was never a business idea… it just happened to turn into one and with that came stresses. There will be times when we are having the best month and everything seems to be running perfectly and other times when things aren’t so smooth. It’s important to remember that the lows are normal and if it was easy and smooth all the time then everyone would do it.
10. Enjoy It
There are many positives to having your own business the main one being that you’re your own boss but it’s important to remember that you need to enjoy it. We have always said that if it ever got to a stage where we didn’t love it anymore then we would stop because like we mentioned before it’s all about passion. If the passion goes then there’s no point.
About the expert
Squirrel Sisters is a health and wellness company founded by sisters Gracie & Sophie Tyrrell. The sisters have a range of award-winning healthy snacks that are available across the nation in Waitrose, Morrisons, Ocado, Selfridges, Whole Foods, Planet Organic, BP (M&S forecourts) and WHSmith.
Squirrel Sisters products are 100% natural, vegan, gluten-free, raw, dairy-free and have no added sugar. They are one of the ONLY healthy snack brands available that don’t add any syrups, pastes or sugar alternatives, which is why they have been certified by Sugarwise. Their products are a healthier choice because they also contain fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Health, wellness, food and how it makes them feel has always been a passion of theirs so they started Squirrel Sisters as a blog in 2014. The blog gained a large following quickly; people connected with their mission and the fact that they are two normal girls with a busy lifestyle that want to enjoy life while feeling great.
With a growing following they saw an opportunity to turn their blog into a business so after much planning and preparation launched their snack bars in November 2015, which they already had the recipes for (Gracie used to make them for Sophie due to her gluten intolerance and after a heart operation which meant she reacted badly to refined and sugar alternatives).
The sisters have got to where they are with no investment. They have done everything themselves from hand delivering product, to supply chain management. With no previous business experience, they have had to learn on the job and are now experienced business women on a mission to help you #TreatYourHealth.
Not only are they entrepreneurs but they are also authors, having recently published their cookbook, Naturally Delicious Snacks & Treats, which was just named the top 9 best healthy cookbooks by The Independent.