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Entrepreneur of the day: Fraser Doherty

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Jane Fitz-Gerald Jane Fitz-Gerald | 18:49 UK time, Saturday, 22 October 2011

Scottish entrepreneur Fraser Doherty made it big with his business SuperJam. Find out how made it to the top.

Business: SuperJam
Age you started your business: 14

Fraser Doherty

How I spotted the gap in the market for my business: When I started selling jam to neighbours I thought it would be a bit of fun and I might make some pocket money. It was only when I started selling my product at farmers' markets and got feedback from people that wanted a jam made 100 per cent from fruit, that I started to make it. As it grew I became ambitious. I met Waitrose at a meet-the-buyer day and they said it was a great idea and that I should give it a shot. It makes me proud now that hundreds of people put something I made on their toast every morning.

What's your USP: That the jam is made 100 per cent from fruit - it's all natural with no added sugar. I experimented for about a year in my parents' kitchen. I was at school, so I did my exams, then left at 16 to concentrate on making jam for a year. Then I went to uni for a year but by that time we'd got SuperJam into supermarkets.

How many hours you work a day/week: Probably 60 hours. I work quite a lot but I enjoy it and it doesn't feel like work.

What have you sacrificed for business? I don't think I've had to make any sacrifices. People ask me if I missed out on a childhood making jam. But no, I have tons of friends and am just lucky enough to have had this adventure. I've had to work hard, it wasn't easy.

What's the biggest surprise about being your own boss? That every day is different, as long as you go around willing and are open to new ideas. It's amazing to employ people - SuperJam is as much their baby now as it is mine. It's exciting to see them get excited and get ideas. We make jam in the factory of a 130-year-old family of jam-makers, I don't own one! It was a bit heartbreaking to see a label machine putting labels on the pots after I used to sit at home and hand make them all.

My school report said...: I did well at school, I'm not a drop out. It would probably have said I was into business because even when I was really young I was always coming up with ideas of things to sell. And teachers were really supportive.

I wish they'd taught me in school: There are things you can't learn in a classroom that you can only learn from making mistakes. For me that would be understanding how supermarkets and factories work. We did a bit of business studies, but so much of starting your own business is just trying things. And not being afraid of things not working, but you can't teach that anyway.

Did you ever feel like you might give up? Well you have to not mind failing, because you learn from that. There was one moment I almost gave up. I'd spent ages finding a factory, perfecting my recipes, designing labels. But I showed it to Waitrose and they told me it was all wrong and that I'd have to start from scratch. That was heartbreaking. When you start a business there will be moments where you think of giving up, but what kept me going was belief that that was what I wanted to do.

What advice would I give about this job? Do not be afraid. A lot of people have a dream so they should go for it. And to start small; especially with food, you can make a few, go to farmers' markets, sell those, make some more, and grow slowly. And find a mentor, someone you trust who can give you advice.

What advice would I give about going it alone? When you come up with a brand be focused and try and find one message about why people should buy your product. You only need one reason and if you can communicate that well then that is good.

What one skill/talent has helped you? Probably generally being not afraid. I realised young that I didn't have much to lose from doing this. So I gave it my best shot.

Best thing about my job is: Meeting lots of people. Travelling to some amazing places, I find that fascinating. I went to Australia and I'm just getting ready to go to Russia to launch SuperJam over there - it's exciting and I'm learning a lot from it.

And the worst thing about my job is: It changes every day, but also sometimes you wish it would move on... sometimes it's like you're waiting for a bus!

Business hero: The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick. I love the idea that you can start a business and you can use your business as a way to do good.

If you could go back in time and do one thing differently in your business, what would it be? I've made millions of mistakes, but making them taught me a lot of useful stuff!

Jane Fitz-Gerald is part of the Up for Hire Interactive team.

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- Catch up on the Up for Hire live chat: How to make it as an entrepreneur


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