I guess it’s not every 14-years-old that wakes up, stumbles[绊倒] out of bed, goes to the kitchen, and makes jam. Let’s just say Fraser is special. Fraser Doherty now runs his company, SuperJam. He was taught to make jam by his grandmother at the age of 14. He later began making jam at home, selling it to neighbours, at farmers’ markets, and to local shops.
Doherty became the youngest ever supplier to a major UK supermarket in 2007, when Waitrose launched SuperJam in its chain of more than 190 stores.
A company estimated to be worth over £1 million, I guess he’s not done too bad for himself.
I got the chance to ask him a few questions about his life and work.
Q: It’s not every 14-year-old that wakes up and wants to start up their own business. What inspired you to do that at such a young age?
Doherty: I was inspired to start making jam by my grandmother. She was cooking jam in the kitchen one afternoon, and I got really excited about it and started cooking jam as a hobby in my spare time. The neighbours soon started buying my homemade jam, then I began selling it at farmers’ markets and to small shops.
Q: Were you exposed to entrepreneurship[企业家的身份] as a child? Did you have any family members who influenced you in that way?
Doherty: As a kid, my parents and family weren’t entrepreneurs, but they always let me try out new things and do whatever I wanted to do in my spare time. I was always interested in making a bit of extra pocket money and tried out all kinds of ideas. My favourite story of all is when I hatched out some chickens from eggs that I got from a local farm; I kept the eggs warm on top of the telly[电视], and amazingly they hatched. I sold the eggs to the neighbours and that was my first ever little business.
Q: On those impossible days starting up, what motivated you to keep going?
Doherty: I was motivated by a feeling that I was doing something worthwhile with my life and by the fact that I was enjoying what I was doing every step of the way.
Q: How do you manage the growth of your company?
Doherty: The business is growing very fast, and we’re launching in new stores all of the time. The most important things are that we have stayed focused on the idea of making 100% pure fruit jams, have focused on keeping the retailers[零售商] happy, and have improved every aspect of the business as we’ve moved forward.
Q: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Doherty: I admire entrepreneurs like the late[已故的] Anita Roddick注 and other entrepreneurs that have run businesses with not only an aim of making money, but with an aim of making the world a better place. Inspired by companies like theirs, I set up a charitable[慈善的] project over a year ago, running tea parties for lonely elderly people. We have now run over 120 tea parties, with live music, dancing, and scones[烤饼] and tea; the larger events have attracted over 500 guests. It feels great to be able to put something positive[积极的] like that into the world.
Q: What sacrifices did you have to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Doherty: Getting the business off the ground[(使)顺利开始] took a huge amount of hard work. In the early days I was spending 12 or more hours a day in the kitchen. I have to spend a lot of time on the road, visiting customers and sharing my story at events around the world. It has been worth all of the work and I’ve enjoyed it all along.
Q: What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Doherty: I enjoy cooking, traveling and music. I don’t work at the weekends and have plenty of time to spend with my friends.
Q: What qualities have you developed as a result of running your business?
Doherty: I am invited to speak at events every week at schools, colleges, universities and conferences, sharing the story of how I built my gran’s jam recipe[烹饪法] into a successful company. Having that experience has helped me to become good at talking to audiences, and I’m getting invited to bigger and bigger events, sometimes in the US and around Europe.
Q: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Doherty: My family have enjoyed the adventure of the past few years, and without their amazing support it wouldn’t have been possible.
Q: What is your advice to upcoming entrepreneurs?
Doherty: Be willing to give things a shot[尝试] and don’t be afraid that they might not work out. I’d also say it’s a great idea to find a mentor[指导者] – someone who has already “been there and done it.” The best advice I have had was from my mentor, who taught me about how supermarkets worked and gave me a lot of confidence in my product.
注:安妮塔·罗迪克(1942-2007)是英国著名的政治家、企业家、商业家,创立了世界著名品牌“美体小铺”(The Body Shop)。她所倡导的社会责任与环保活动深深地影响甚至改变了整个商业世界的运作。