MY BEST ... In retrospect, my best decision has been to keep Neal's Yard Remedies independent. We have never taken any outside investment and that has enabled us to develop our range and our philosophy in a natural way. We were offered external investment several times, but the deals were never interesting enough. It was harder when we thought we would have to ask for outside investment. This happened a couple of times when our cashflow was difficult - on both occasions we had to change the design or shape of our entire packaging because of new EU legislation. But we resisted the lure of outside investors, and because we've stayed independent we've been able to maintain the quality of the product.
MY WORST ... You never quite know it at the time, but it's easy to miss a great opportunity. In 1984, my landlord had offered to sell me the original property, at 2 Neal's Yard in Covent Garden. It was a great price - pounds 250,000 - but I turned it down. After I'd had a few days to think about it, I went back to the landlord but he no longer wanted to sell it. With property prices the way they are - it must be worth many times the original asking price now - I feel I made a bit of a mistake there. We would certainly not be paying the constantly increasing rents we now pay. You feel uncomfortable when you see opportunities that you failed to recognise at the time.