Innocent Drinks boss: You're bonkers to blame economy for holding you back

Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks, on dealing with supermarkets, making 10% of his team redundant and why true entrepreneurs are never put off by a weak economy.

by Elizabeth Anderson

Innocent was born out of friendship. The two other co-founders and I are best mates from university. We always thought it would be great to start a business together and one weekend we came up with the idea of selling smoothies. By Monday we'd all quit our jobs.

My dad worked for the local bus company but I've always been entrepreneurial. At four, I was selling jam jars of rose petals and water to the neighbours for 2p. At 13, I was buying surf stickers for 2p from a local newsagent and selling them on for 15p at school. I've never made a profit margin like that since.

My worst moment was in 2008 when I watched the market sliding away and we didn't act quickly enough. After eight years of growth, we weren't expecting sales to fall. We lost millions of pounds in that traumatic year and had to make 10% of the team redundant.

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