Tim Barford, manager of VegfestUK and Yaoh, continues his series of book reviews from the vegan world. Describing himself as a 'failed academic', and 'not very bright' , Tim's reviews aim to encourage others to read and learn from some of the leading authors on the global vegan scene. Here, he reviews the new book by Katrina Fox, which focuses on vegan businesses from around the globe.
'Vegan Ventures' is a compact and bijoux glimpse at some of the most successful vegan businesses in existence, and contains a number of quotes from leading business people, carefully interwoven into a helpful guide to setting up and running a vegan venture. Author Katrina Fox uses her extensive contacts and experience to create a superb compilation of guidelines, advice, anecdotes and support for those wishing to develop their passion and desire into a working business.
Calling on the input from over 60 business owners, the book is light-hearted, easily digestible, and suitably broken down into chunks to allow the reader to see the step by step process of starting and creating a vegan business. Starting with a look at the purpose behind your venture, and then the mindset required, Katrina goes on to examine set up, structure and systems that might be appropriate for your own venture - as well as a very important look at how running your own business can effect relationships - something which many new budding entrepreneurs ignore. From then on, much of the book is devoted to branding and marketing, again something that is often overlooked by new start-ups - or in some cases, too top heavy on branding and marketing, especially in the early days
There then follows an in depth view of the rapidly developing social media marketing options, which have put the whole marketing concept firmly into the hands of the individual - as well as a superb set of guidelines for developing professional PR and mainstream media options, with a multitude of handy tips and cautions, all of which create a most useful and inspirational resource for both the budding vegan entrepreneur as well as those with some experience already of starting and growing a business.
Towards the end of the book, there are lists of useful resources - and of course, some most excellent input from the very people who have been through the process - some of whom have learnt the hard way - and all eager to share their experiences for free, to assist those that are stepping out on the rocky road to business success. With an average of around 80% of new start-ups going out of business by the end of year two, this really does make essential reading for those wishing to avoid the many pitfalls along the way to creating your own vision and dream into a genuinely successful stand up vegan venture.
The book also contains a very useful chapter on whether one should use the word 'vegan' in branding, naming and marketing a new business. This can be a make or break scenario for many of us - and indeed, from personal experience as manager of Yaoh and VegfestUK, I have found either one or the other to be appropriate for different business ventures. Yaoh has definitely benefitted from identifying with 'vegan' at all times - VegfestUK has benefitted from not using 'vegan' in its title (this is documented in more detail in the chapter on this area). I highly recommend that people remove their 'activists' head on this area, and instead use their 'business head' as it could make the difference between success and failure. After all, if you are successful in setting up and running your new business, then you can pretty much do what you like further down the line. The trick is to get to a safe place first.
Overall, this is a super little book, very handy, practical, light-hearted, non-judgemental and full of amusing anecdotes from some of the most successful vegan business owners on the planet. Vegan activism comes in many shapes and sizes - but running a successful vegan business can in many ways have the biggest impact. Running your own business is not for everyone - and certainly not for the faint-hearted, rash or foolhardy - but for those that wish to turn their hobby and passion into a full time occupation, this book is essential reading, and a very useful resource that you will find yourself turning to often.
'When the going gets tough - the tough turn pro.' Thanks Katrina for your inspiring work, and we look forward to working closely with you over the coming years at VegfestUK as we seek to develop more assistance for the backbone of the vegan movement - the vegan venture.
see www.veganbusinessmedia.com for more info
Katrina Fox is an award winning journalist and animal advocate, originally from London UK, and now residing in Sydney Australia. She has nearly 20 years' experience writing about social justice issues and animal advocacy from a diverse range of niche and mainstream media in the UK, USA and Australia.
Katrina gave an excellent talk at VegfestUK London 2015 on “Vegan World Domination – One Business at a Time” – you can view her talk here:
from Vegfest UK