We chat to Guy Woodall, owner of Yum Cha Iced Tea who tells us about the evolving world of tea through his products, No More Tea Bags and Yum Cha Iced Tea.
Please explain who you are, what your business is, and what it does/aims to achieve?
I’m Guy Woodall, tenant of a small farm in Surrey specialising in elderflower extract production, and owner of Yum Cha Iced Tea concentrates and No More Tea Bags instant aerosol tea. We aim to make iced tea that tastes as it should, of tea, and hot tea that tastes better than tea bag tea and without the soggy disposal nuisance. Tea is evolving!
What time does your day usually start and end?
We start and 9 and then follow the daylight hours so long days in summer (and mostly 7 days a week), shorter days in winter with weekends off and even a holiday in a good year, though not this year, too busy even in winter.
What is your favourite part of your job and what is your least favourite part?
I love working on new products and bringing them to the market. I also love being a small business and being involved in every aspect of it, but as we grow management and admin will be the first thing to be delegated, hopefully to someone better at them than me
What inspired you to start your business? (And what made you want to be your own boss?)
Necessity really, with a PhD in philosophy nobody wants to give you a job so you have to create your own opportunities.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Mostly from tradition. Tea is the most popular drink in the world and very well understood and developed, and we choose tried and tested popular brews from around the world. Technical knowledge is important and for example for Yum Cha Iced teas I realised that the reasons commercial iced tea doesn’t taste of tea and always has to have added flavours are all technical ones that can be overcome quite easily with a bit of know-how.
What has been the biggest challenge for your business?
Persuading the British to take an interest in Iced tea. Nearly all our sales are overseas.
What do you feel are the biggest obstacles to growth for SMEs in the UK?
The hardest thing in my experience is to introduce new products. It’s very hard without an advertising budget which we don’t have, and instead we rely on word of mouth and good relations with distributors.
Have you made any mistakes along the way and how did you overcome them/learn from them?
You can’t innovate without making mistakes and you have to be fearless and listen to criticism, take your time, and try to iron out errors at an early stage.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to anyone looking to start their own business?
There are many ways you can go about it but mine is to create a modest but profitable core that functions as your base and to build slowly from there. Keep you overheads as low as possible, and make sure your sales are always enough to cover them.
What do you do to relax away from the hustle and bustle of work?
Dog walking, foraging, trips to the south of France, occasional rock climbing, and tending the vegetable garden
What would you be doing if you weren’t running your on business?
Do you manage to achieve a good work/life balance?
A farm is your life, and if you want another life separate from it you will always be unhappy. I love what I do, though I could happily work a bit less.