Min and I often get asked what happens in our business meetings and whether we actually have any or whether it’s just us two sitting at a pub near our office having a “work drink”. The answer is yes, we do have real meetings with real people. We used to avoid them at all costs until we realised Fruity Booty would be a flop if we didn’t seek advice and build a community around us.
So here’s what goes down…
The stress starts the moment we leave the office and begin the journey to the destination. A power play begins between me and Minna and we become scarily competitive about who knows the fastest route.
If we are driving Min is supposed to be the navigator but she gets distracted by her phone and makes me miss turnings. Also, Min is a Waze gal and I’m more into trusty Google Maps … a tense, ongoing debate.
However, it doesn’t end in the car. We usually take the tube to meetings and as I have lived in London my whole life I like to think I know my way around best, but Min subscribes to the holy worship of CityMapper and can’t cope with freestyling. So we must part ways and race to prove our route is quicker. It once got so heated I secretly turned off Minna’s location services on her iPhone so she couldn’t follow the maps properly (some might say psychotic, some might say genius).
The Dress Code
We tend to appear out of place in big corporate buildings, looking a bit young, unsuited (literally) and sweaty, so we get a lot of weird looks. Recently, we had our first meeting in the City of London talking to potential investors and we had to check with Paula, our finance director if our outfits were ok because we didn’t know the fashion etiquette. Apparently, people in the square mile haven’t caught on to underwear as outerwear yet. We also recently suffered a wardrobe malfunction too embarrassing even to share here.
Meeting Savoir Faire
To avoid stage fright, or worse, nervous laughter, we now have a routine in meetings. I do the spiel about how we started Fruity Booty and then Min takes over with the creative vision. We then combine forces to talk about the supply chain and finance stuff. Before this strategy it was chaos. Although we are in no way perfect now, there are still mistakes and kicks under the table, it is soooo much better. We’ve also learned to be a lot less trusting. There has been more than one meeting where we have shared business plans and structures looking for feedback to discover that a bunch of 50 plus-year-old business men have poached our manufacturer in one instance, and supplier in another.
Debrief On The (Slightly Calmer) Journey Back:
Positives: We say how well it went, how useful we found it, how proud of each other we are and how to give it a year and we would settle on £40 mil each.
Negatives: Min can be too honest in meetings and start telling them our weaknesses or that we are having supply chain issues which could send us under. I have now informed her this isn’t the best move.
And apparently, I do an extremely irritating thing in all meetings - taking an excessive amount of notes and then never read them again. Which is only half true! They are useful to look back at if I’ve forgotten something and I feel a lot more professional.
We used to leave meetings exhausted from all the nerves and adrenaline, but slowly we have built up our stamina. We got our PB of six big meetings in one day this summer, which a year ago seemed impossible without either me pushing Minna onto the tube tracks or someone fainting with exhaustion. I even noticed Min pick up a little strut in her step as we left the last one. You’ll be relieved to know we have now nailed our entrepreneur casual look. It also turns out the racing was great training and all of the blunders were a great learning curve. We actually quite enjoy meetings now and are so grateful to everyone that has helped us along the way. Except for the people who stole our business contacts, you know who you are!
Illustration: Rachel Campbell @the_illustratice