Huel founder Julian Hearn’s 12 tips for building a successful company

It’s been an exciting year for food replacement brand Huel. Spurred on by a £72m increase in sales since the start of the COVID pandemic, the company made its first foray into the hot ready meal category in September, launching a new range of warm instant meals promising an affordable and nutritionally complete lunch option for consumers.

Huel are used to being challengers to the norm. And if anyone knows how to build a successful company from scratch (and against the odds), its founder Julian Hearn, with the entrepreneur persevering with his meal replacement concept after launching in 2014 despite being dismissed as ‘hippy space dust’ by some, and too radical a step by many.

Now a multi-million pound operation, with headquarters in the UK, US and Germany; Huel found that the key to success was through a combination of serious hard work, understanding its target market and having unbreakable motivation.

These points all came up in Julian Hearn’s brilliant social media post this week, with the Huel founder offering budding startups and F&B entrepreneurs 12 key pieces of advice on how to build a successful company:

Start

Without action, you have zero chance. Reading, researching, planning and talking can be useful, but they are NOT starting. Take real action, get a product out in the market asap, so you can learn from real customers.

Work your arse off

There are no shortcuts. Being successful is going to take a lot of work. You want to do every job in the business for the first 6 months at least, so you can teach the next person how to do it the way you want it done. You will need to become obsessed for a period of time.

Make customers happy

Understand what customers want, talk to them, be a customer, engage on social media. Then give them what they want.

Create a powerful and enduring mission

A clear and concise mission should be your North Star. It aligns the whole company to move in the same direction.

Create a brand people love to be associated with

The late Steve Jobs said “people buy brands, not products.” So make sure you create a strong brand. Be proud of what you do, really care about every detail.

Remember, brand is every touch point

The product, the look and feel, the way you speak to customers, the delivery box, emails, website, adverts, etc.

Speed wins

Learn how to get stuff done as quickly as possible. Set short deadlines, hustle. You are in a competitive race so aim to work smarter and faster.

Don’t be afraid to fail

Everyone fails. Huel is not my first company, but it’s my most successful. Why? I’ve learnt along the way by failing.

Go around, over, under or straight through barriers

There will be a new problem every day. You are making a new path, so you need to solve problems and get past new barriers every day. Learn to be creative and don’t take no for an answer.

Ensure you have a powerful and lasting motivator

Start-ups are hard, they can take a toll on your health, your friendships, your relationships. So if you don’t have a burning motivator inside you will struggle to last the distance.

Create a strong culture

Without a great team you can’t make a great company. So you need to create a culture where the best people want to work. I recommend writing down a culture document as early as you can. Outline what is your DNA and how you want the team to behave.

Never rest on your laurels

Your competitors will improve, so you need to improve to stay ahead. Too often companies slow down and stop innovating. Otherwise, another brand will steal your lunch.

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