17 February 2015

5 reasons pancakes are like start-ups

To celebrate pancake day, we've come up with a list of the similarities between start-ups/small businesses and pancakes.

As it’s pancake day today, we’ve been thinking about the similarities between pancakes and start-ups or small businesses. Here are our top five.

1.     You have to have the right ingredients

With pancakes you need to have the right mix of ingredients. Too much flour and your pancakes will be stodgy and will taste floury. Similarly for your start-up, you need the right mixture of skills, experience, passion and attitude.

Traditionally pancakes were all about flour, milk and eggs, with lemon and sugar as the topping. Now, there are endless different recipes including ones with buttermilk, blueberries, sweet potatoes or bananas. Sometimes, unusual combinations come out really well and the same can be said of businesses. Start-ups are finding ways to disrupt the traditional markets, with different processes or ideas that challenge the norm.

2.     Don’t over-mix

An important rule for getting the batter right is to avoid over-mixing, as this makes your pancakes come out chewy and tough. While you obviously need to mix your wet and dry ingredients, it’s ok to have some small lumps in there.

Taking the analogy to the business environment, don’t fail before you start by overworking your product or idea and losing sight of the original concept. Try not to focus on getting your product or idea absolutely perfect either. If you hold onto your idea of perfection too strongly, you’ll never be satisfied with your products or achievements. When you’re starting out, there are bound to be a few bumps in the road. Plus individual customers have different tastes and needs.

3.     It’s all about the timing – don’t flip too soon

Flipping too soon is a common rookie error in pancake-making. You need to wait until the bubbles on the surface of your pancake burst before you flip. This will make sure you only need to flip once to get perfectly cooked pancakes, rather than a deflated mess.  

Similarly, it’s easy to be impatient with your new business venture. It can take a while for your start-up to get off the ground. Don’t hastily change your product offering if things aren’t going as you expected and undo all the work you’ve put in to date. While you may need to change something, get feedback from your customers first. Check what you could be doing better or what they would like to see improve and then alter your business accordingly

4.     Real fresh pancakes are best

While the batter and ready-made pancakes you can buy from shops are convenient, they’re not quite as good as a freshly-made pancake. The same holds true for new businesses. It can be tempting to try to emulate existing successful companies, but you need to carve your own niche in the industry and use your individual strengths as a business, whether you’re a one-man band or you have a team to support you. Developing a unique ethos, brand and culture will create a much better company than just copying others.

5.     They get better with time

For most people, the first pancake in your batch is your test one – it’s never quite as good as the others. In business, particularly if you’re new to the world of business ownership, it’s likely that there will be times you feel out of your depth or look back in hindsight and wish you’d done something differently. Your pitch may not be polished to perfection at first, but as you gain more experience, you’ll improve over time.