Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Business | Vicky Ha, House of Dumplings

After eight years in the food business, I still don’t know what I don’t know. One thing I can tell you, however, is that I have made plenty of mistakes which are so valuable as you soon learn what not to do – ever again! Lessons gained from mistakes are far more meaningful that any seminars or books out there.The food business is not easy, it is one of the lowest margin industries out there and it is also extremely competitive because everybody thinks that they know food.


Start Small

I always say money is a curse, because if I had too much I wouldn’t use it in the most efficient way. When you only have limited resources, you focus on what equipment is essential rather on items that would be nice to have. It forces you to choose the absolute essentials to survive. I started my food business eight years ago with a $100 Italian domestic manual pasta machine. No mixer, no pastry roller. Even though I had $20,000 in the bank from working on a prawn trawler in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. I started small with food stall at a local farmers’ market, built a loyal customer base then start buying equipment once I’d developed my market. The risk was lower this way.


Do Your Research

Your customers will dictate whether they want your product or not. It’s not the other way around. Predicted growth sales by way of business plans are BS in my opinion. Just because you think your product is the best thing since sliced bread, most people don’t really care because there are so many more products out there to choose from. Always do your research. Get prototypes out there as early as possible. Test your product. Ensure there is a demand, then you focus on investing more into growth and establishing yourself.


You Must Be a Doer

Being a woman is no excuse, it is an advantage. We are born to be emotional creatures which makes us better managers. I have seen plenty of great female leaders out there that truly look after their staff. Without your staff, you will always be a one-man band. Don’t think like a woman, there is no gender in business. Only the one who is out there making things happen will win.

Survival of the most adaptable

Darwin is always right. When I first started House of Dumplings, we were the only dumpling brand in New Zealand. Now, it is a wild, wild west, with everyone copying each another. Learn to adapt, to rise above it. Be the innovator, never the follower! Having a good brand story and values always helps too, as no one can copy that.



Expect to be poor for a while

If you want to get rich quick, then invest in the stock market or do up a house. The chances of getting rich quick from business is slim. Business takes time. Money will follow if you enjoy what you do, providing you are good at it. The truth is, there is more blood sweat and tears than fun, most of the time! I am in business because I love what I do. The amount of pride and pleasure I get from my business is beyond my wildest dreams. No one is going to tell you want to do. Well, except your customers! If you want to have a different lifestyle then get a job and work for someone else because at least your income will be constant.


Business is a journey

Only 37 percent of businesses survive past their first two years. It is brutal out there. If you do fail, you will learn heaps about yourself and that experience will be yours forever. No one can take that away from you.


Quick Tips

  1. Develop your market first before investing money in machinery.
  2. Your customers dictate whether you will have a business or not. Talk to them. Don’t hide behind sales predictions.
  3. There is no gender in business. Be a doer with no excuses.
  4. Have a great brand story and values so no one can copy you!
  5. Make calculated risk and never give up.
  6. Fail. Learn. Adapt. Embrace making mistakes. Learn from them and do better next time.
  7. The failure rate is high, so be realistic.

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117 Taranaki St, Wellington