Overcoming the isolation of being a business owner
Raj Regmi, Owner of Meadow Brown Restaurants
Meadow Brown Restaurants is a family business, which has been running for 8 years. They started out in Peterborough with Ferry Meadows café, and now they have 5 establishments in total, including the Woodland Manor Hotel in Bedford. The business has now grown to over 100 staff, and they are just about to open a new site at Nottingham castle, which Raj is particularly excited about.
As with all ventures in the catering and hospitality industry, Covid had a massive impact on Raj’s business, with a loss of 60% revenue as a result. However, Raj is not someone to dwell on the negative, so decided to join Peer Networks as a route to remaining positive and exploring ways to progress and grow his business.
This is the first time that Raj have participated in any action learning. He says:
“As a business owner, you make all the decisions and you are so involved in your own world that it is always exciting to get out there and find out what other people are doing, and what they are thinking. Especially with the pandemic, which has had an effect on every business, it is interesting to find out what steps other businesses have been taking as a result. Any support network out there is vital at the moment.”
Though Peer Networks, he was able to explore his biggest challenge which is how to grow his business portfolio from the current five establishments, to perhaps 7 or 8 over the next 5 years . Meeting every other week for a 2-3 hour session, the other peers around the virtual table were very keen to find out more about his business and they all had ideas and visions for how he could expand. Raj says:
“Anyone who runs or works in a business always has something useful to say based on their particular experience and knowledge. As someone who is in a growing business at the moment, learning, listening and implementing what you have learnt is always a valuable thing.”
His peer group comprised individuals who worked in business. Some people were representing marketing for a company, another worked closely with the business owner, other were business owners like himself. The other participants were from completely different sectors and Raj says that it was very valuable to find out how different businesses operate and allowed him to bring in ideas from these different sectors to his own business.
During the sessions, all participants were able to explore different issues and ideas, for example how to manage different people, to how to market product and services to a younger generation. Raj says that the discussions following other peer’s challenges prompted ideas that he is thinking of incorporating in his own business. For example, he now has some good ideas of how to encourage the younger generation to come into his restaurants.
Peer Network sessions were facilitated by a coach, who Raj says really understood business and where he was coming from in terms of his ideas. As part of the programme he has had two 1-2-1 sessions with the coach, which he says have proved perhaps even more useful that the peer networking itself. Raj is currently being paired up with some mentors who can continue to help direct him with this business growth challenges. He said:
“Peer Networks is a very useful tool. Running a business can be daunting so it is a great thing to meet like-minded people – you are expressing issues and learning in an environment you would not normally be able to operate in. It has benefited me as an individual, and if it benefits me, then it benefits my business. Being part of Peer Networks has given him the perspective of what I wants to do in 5- 10 years and I have been able to develop a very clear plan with the support of the growth coach.”
Raj has invited all the peers in his network to have dinner with him at his hotel when Covid restrictions allow them to do so. He says would be really nice to meet up with them in person, and he is sure there are many he will remain in contact after his Peer Network concludes.
Peer-to-peer networks are available throughout the year, supporting SME leaders and senior leadership to navigate the challenges they face in their businesses. For more information and to register your interest, visit Peer-to-peer Networks.