Ed Elder: 'The Make a Plan tool gave me a thorough overview of where the gaps are in my business.'

Ed Elder: 'The Make a Plan tool gave me a thorough overview of where the gaps are in my business.'
Marc Gardner
Marc GardnerOfficial

Posted: Mon 17th Apr 2023

Enterprise Nation partnered with Mastercard and Strive to deliver an online 'One Stop Shop' for entrepreneurs.

An initiative of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Strive will give 650,000 British micro and small enterprises the support they need to thrive in the digital economy over the next three years and beyond.

We're catching up with some of the business owners who have been using the initiative's Make a Plan discovery tool to find out about how it's benefited them so far.

Here, we talk to Ed Elder, whose London-based food business Elder's helps consumers make choices around food and drink that benefit the community and the planet.

When and how did you make the move into owning a business?

I started selling imported goods from China at university, which was my first taste of entrepreneurship. I went round the university campus offering deals and putting products on eBay.

I didn't take it any further as I had a graduate scheme lined up, but it made me enough money to pay for that summer.

Ever since graduating, I'd worked a number of commercial roles but was never fully invested in building someone else's business. It's taken me a few false attempts at landing on something to follow through with, but there's always been a pull to want to be my own boss.

What support, if any, did you seek when setting up your new business?

Luckily, my dad ran his own business for nearly 30 years so I always had him to lean on. Outside of his advice, I've gone through a bit of trial and error but mainly through actively reading and messaging people on LinkedIn, which has proved invaluable.

In the early weeks and months, what went well? What didn't? How did you overcome any problems?

Naively, I thought that when we launched, the sales would just roll in, with a little bit of a push on socials. Oh, how I was wrong!

At this stage, we're trying to grow without giving money to Mark Zuckerberg, which is proving more difficult. I also believe that's having an effect on our stock for certain items due to the shelf life.

You used the Make a Plan tool. What specifically has it helped with?

The Make a Plan tool gave me a thorough overview of where the gaps are in my business – there are many! – and where I could seek strategic advice going forward.

Now you're established and looking to grow, what do you see as the next steps for your business?

We're keen to develop a more solid social and digital marketing strategy, while also moving into corporate gifting for businesses that are tired of the same boring gifts for clients and colleagues.

What are your more longer-term plans?

Our long-term plans are to build out the direct-to-consumer offering with an increased range, and to venture into wholesale with a more boutique offering for smaller retailers and corporate offices.

What are the most important lessons you've learned from going into business for yourself?

We live in a world that paints a picture of entrepreneurship as an easy ride – it certainly is not! But it is an enjoyable one.

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About Strive Make a Plan

Create an account, answer some quick questions about your business, get personalised feedback, then build an action plan that will help accelerate your business's growth. Take the Make a Plan tool today

Marc Gardner
Marc GardnerOfficial
I'm one of Enterprise Nation's content managers, and spend most of my time working on all types of content for the small business programmes and campaigns we run with our corporate, government and local-authority partners.

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