Local entrepreneur Michael Hendron established Benchmark Bread during the Covid-19 lockdown. It was a concept that had originated from a desire to get freshly baked products directly to peoples doorsteps during a time when they weren’t able to go and shop for it up themselves.
Did you always aspire to be self-employed?
No, not really. I had always planned to pursue a career in medicine and hoped to follow a route through the NHS. I hadn’t really considered being self-employed as I hadn’t come across too many individuals who were self employed, nor had I heard any of the pros or cons of that line of employment.
How long did you have your business idea before meeting with a Business Adviser to discuss?
Probably around 4 months. I had been trialling some products with friends and family members before getting in touch with Go For It and seeking advice on how to develop the idea further. It was a concept that had originated from a desire to get freshly baked products directly to peoples doorsteps during a time when they weren’t necessarily able to go and pick it up as easily as they had done in the past.
What does your business do?
Benchmark Bread offers freshly baked bread, pastries and sweet baked goods delivered to your door each week. It started life as a pastry box consisting of a sourdough loaf, a jar of nut butter/jam/chutney, fresh pastries and sweet bakes such as brownies. It has now become a business that alongside offering this pastry box with new products each week, also supplies a number of prestigious restaurants & coffee shops in the Belfast area.
How long have you been trading?
I started the business in late 2020.
Are you happy that you went into self-employment?
Yes, one hundred percent. For the stage of life that I am, at it has provided an opportunity to make money doing something that I love, whilst maintaining a healthy work life balance that enables me to be present with my young family.
If you were to give one piece of advice to someone starting up in business what would it be?
Make sure to have a few good sounding boards around you, i.e. individuals who will both encourage you to dream big but will also help you set realistic expectations. Also, it’s important to have hobbies and activities outside of work. There is always something else to be done when being self employed / running a small business therefore it could be very easy to allow the business to consume every waking minute. Maintain a balance!
Was the Go For It programme beneficial to you? If so, how?
Yes, the programme has been great in in a number of different ways. Help with designing a business plan has been priceless and I am very thankful for Peter, the Business Adviser that I was assigned. Peter had first hand experience in starting and running his own business, therefore was able to answer all of my questions.
What was the best part of the programme?
Seeing a concept that you have visualised come together in the form of a business plan has been incredible. Having that document, which I am now able to present to potential investors/lenders in the future is great, but it is also a wonderful reminder to me that what I am doing is an exciting business venture with a strategic plan for growth.
How did you finance your business?
Through personal income. I started baking on a small scale for family and a few friends, choosing only to expand and buy equipment when I had generated enough revenue through each stage of growth.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
I hope to be an established local bakery with a retail outlet in Jordanstown village, providing the local community with fresh produce. In doing so I hope that I can provide job opportunities for others looking to learn and invest in the economic development of the area. I also hope to grow the number of wholesale customers in and around Greater Belfast providing them with fresh, artisan baked goods. If anyone would like to get in touch to purchase produce on a retail or wholesale business simply drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in turning your idea into a reality, just like Michael did, then simply contact us now and a member of our team will be in touch. Our team will work flexibly to suit you. Meetings can be conducted either virtually or face to face (Government guidelines permitting), it’s entirely up to you!