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Green & Black’s founder encourages next generation of entrepreneurs

Jo Fairley, the co-founder of Green & Black’s, shared her secrets of success as part of the Entrepreneurs@Manchester speaker series held at Alliance Manchester Business School.

Jo talked about her entrepreneurial journey and the lessons she has learned as she set out to market the world’s first organic chocolate and was among the first to highlight the social responsibility of food producers.

Relentless passion, accepting that you can’t do it all yourself and building on strong values were her key tips for success. To say that Jo is passionate about chocolate would be an understatement because, as she willingly admits, it’s more of an obsession. Together with her partner, Craig Sams, they founded Green & Black’s in 1991 with three guiding principles that remain central to the brand’s success today – authenticity, originality and ethics.

“I want to inspire them to become entrepreneurs themselves and to lift the veil of mystique as to how it happens. It isn’t all about meticulous planning, most people I know say that as soon as the ink is dry on a business plan they need to rip it up and start again.

Jo seems optimistic for the next generation of business starters: “Whenever I go to talk to young people I see a lot of courage and optimism, and I love that.
“Culturally the appeal of being in commerce and making a start in enterprise is much more accepted and supported than ever before; it is a great time to be starting a business.”

Jo then touched on five key elements for entrepreneurs;

  • Ask yourself; do I want this product/service myself?
  • Find a business partner with complementary skills
  • Harness the power of publicity and social media
  • Invest in a great design
  • Try to do good while you’re doing business- enterprise has the power to change the world

At the end of the event, Jo gave away a stack of Green & Black’s chocolate to one audience member with the best question. Yuffa Judah, was the lucky winner who asked “I’m struggling with whether to invest full-time in my start-up idea Chic Trade, or apply for a full-time job. It seems like if I don’t take on my idea full time, people won’t take me seriously? What should I do?”

In response, Jo was very clear, “Just do it, everyone needs a side hustle.”

Jo Fairley was speaking at the Entrepreneurs@Manchester speaker series organised by Masood Enterprise Centre and supported by A2E industries.

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