From start-up to success | What I wish I’d known about business finance

I’m not a chef, a baker or a barista. Nor am I an expert on business finance. So, having three coffee and donut shops and a bakery is a bit of a left turn.

Hexa Finance helped me along the way – and I learned A LOT about the value of finance. But before I make my point, a bit of background.

I started Whocult on a whim. Whoclo, my streetwear brand, was already going strong. We had some space in the Whoclo warehouse, and I love coffee and donuts. That was reason enough to give it a go (like I said, it started on a whim).

I had a barista friend, and at first we asked a local baker to make the donuts. We’d top them and fill them, and see how it went. The answer? Better than expected. In lockdown, we were delivering up to 400 boxes per week. Guess I’m not the only one who loves donuts.

We needed to produce more, and we wanted to bring it in-house. The baker and I agreed to part ways. “I’ll have to build my own bakery”, I told him. He laughed and said “Good luck with that.”
Within a fortnight, we had our own, 1,500 square-foot bakery. I am stubborn like that. Now we’ve got three Whocult locations, in Bridgend, Barry and Newport. And this is where finance becomes relevant – for when I did use it, and when I should’ve done.

First, when I did. Hexa helped us get the Newport store up and running. We needed all the branding and decor to be on point from day one. It matters in a business like ours, where word of mouth is the best marketing department you’ll ever have.

There’s a simple reason for that. When someone tells you they’ve had an amazing donut, you want a donut. Social media multiplies that many times over. The donuts were already great. So, get the shop looking right and all those Instagram shots will take care of the promotion.

Kitting out a shop is big investment though. We could have put our own capital in, but that would have been a drain on cashflow. Enter Hexa.

I’d heard about Hexa Finance through word of mouth. Now, finance can be a little daunting. But Hexa are nothing like that. They’re down-to-earth guys who actually want to help – and unlike me, they really know their stuff when it comes to finance.

They looked at what we were trying to achieve, and made a recommendation. Within 48 hours of signing the contract, I had the money in the bank. Yes: 48 hours.

It was ridiculously easy, and so are the repayments. They go through the till system automatically as a percentage of whatever we take. So not only is it hassle-free, but each repayment amount is in proportion with the take. In a quiet month, we’re not hit by a massive, inflexible repayment.

Since the store has been a success, we’re paying down the loan at a healthy speed. Most importantly, the financing from Hexa is part of the reason why it’s a success. Thanks to their funding, we have a shop that looks great and on brand. (The amazing coffee and donuts also help.)

Now to the main point. When we built the bakery, we used cash, not finance. Our lockdown delivery trade was enough to cover it – so why not? Well, here’s why: financing is not some backup for when you don’t have cash.

In fact, it’s better when you do. It means you have that cash on hand, and you can use the finance to invest in something that grows the business. That’s what we did with the Newport store, and it’s what we should have done with the bakery.

There’s always something to learn when you’re running a business, and that’s what I learned from working with Hexa. Don’t get me wrong – it’s worked out in the end. But I will be sure to keep it in mind next time we’ve got big plans, and I’d recommend the same to anyone.

Thanks to Ben and Stu for the guest spot, and I hope this post is informative. And to anyone in Bridgend, Barry or Newport looking for donuts and coffee – you know where to come!

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