Follow the journey of the business that’ll be sure to get your juices flowing
Amy Mills is the founder of The Little Orange Van, which can be found brightening up events and festivals around the UK. Their balanced mix of fresh fruit juices, smoothies and milkshakes is serving up a treat at a location near you.
Tell us what The Little Orange Van is and what your business offers?
The Little Orange Van; a fully restored 1970 Citroen HY Van which offers customers fresh fruit juices, smoothies and shakes. I am attending various events and festivals in and around Hertfordshire and have been trading since April 2018. I also hire out The Little Orange Van for private events such as weddings, parties and corporate events with the option of serving alcoholic drinks.
What was it that inspired you to set-up your own business?
It was something I had been thinking about for some time; I had done my research so I knew there was nothing quite like my idea where I am based. At that time I was not feeling completely valued or stimulated in the role I was in. I wanted to be challenged and create something I could be proud of. At the start of the new year, I said to myself if I don’t go for it now I may miss the opportunity, so I set myself the goal to have the business up and running in time to start trading in the summer. It was not an easy decision but it was the best decision I could have made.
Do you think an Entrepreneur ISA and a Small Business Savings Allowance would have helped aid your company’s growth in the early stages?
Absolutely. It is one thing to have an idea and to have the drive to make something out of it, but ultimately there has to be the money to fund it. If financing a new business was less of a concern in the early stages of a company’s growth, I’m sure it would give more people the confidence to do it themselves.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
When you start a business in a completely new field, there are so many things you have to do for the first time and this can seem daunting. However, there are so many sources of information and advice (internet, people, other businesses) that you can soon make some headway and the challenges become more manageable. It’s been a nice surprise to find out how willing people actually are to help you.
Owning and running my own business is very different to being an employee within a company. I’ve had to learn how to take charge as opposed to following someone else's lead.
What is your proudest achievement to date as a company?
Last weekend we sold nearly 300 freshly made drinks at an event. To think, in January this was all just an idea on a piece of paper - six months of hard work and dedication has all been worth it! Having people speak so positively about your brand and products is such an amazing feeling.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Do your market research. What is already out there and what makes you that little bit different from your competition. Remember that just because something has already been done, doesn't mean that you can’t be successful.
You need to know your numbers. What will it cost to setup and maintain your business.
Passion, drive and determination. If you have these then you have a really great chance of being successful. Don’t strive for perfection at the start. Get your business up and running because the only way you really learn is by doing. You will make mistakes and that is all part of the learning.
Amy Mills is the founder of The Little Orange Van.