How I’m #Bossingit – Anna Southwell of Loves Café
What’s your business?
A relaxed café which serves home-cooked food and showcases local musicians and artists. We also hold community events, art evenings, poetry nights and cinema clubs.
What’s your background?
I started out in town and country planning, before moving into hospitality management. I had done waitressing at 16, so had a good grounding. I ran a friend’s café and became a food manager at a local venue. I realised this was what I was good at.
Why launch your business?
I felt Weston was ready for something different.
How did you do it?
I took a small business loan to afford a derelict building and had a lot of help from friends in renovating it into a café.
You need to put in an incredible amount of hard work and have real self belief. Also work out what you do best and are most successful at and focus on that.
The hardest part?
Taking full responsibility for a business is difficult. It’s personal so you need to be able to take criticism – especially through social media. Plus you will likely have to overcome hurdles and meet costs you never considered.
Most important lesson?
You are always learning and you have to be prepared to adapt and change. Sometimes you have to do what the business needs, rather than what you enjoy doing.
I never realised you end up working a lot for little or no profit in the early days. You learn to be very careful and value every pound.
Would do differently?
Take time off because your business doesn’t benefit from you being run ragged.
Why do you love it?
Every day is different and it is great to be your own boss and make your own money. You are answerable only to yourself – which takes some getting used to! I am in charge of my own destiny and surrounded by a great team. I know my customers well and enjoy what I do.
Would you recommend it?
Yes. If you want to do it, go for it. Despite the hard work, running your own business is a really great thing to do. If you have a specific skill put it to good use.
Don’t romanticise running a business. So many people say “oh you’re so lucky” but few would be willing to put in the time and effort demanded. So think carefully and understand the situation you will be putting yourself in.
Has it been worth it?
Undoubtedly yes. It’s not just about financial gain either. My cafe is a lifestyle business and I have created a place where my friends and I would go and have brought something totally new to my home town. I’m proud of that.
Loves Café, 9 West St, Weston-super-Mare BS23 1JR Tel: 01934 645672