If We Can You Can: Lizzy Hodcroft of The Sweet Beet

If We Can You Can: Lizzy Hodcroft of The Sweet Beet

Lizzy Hodcroft has worked in a number of roles in the hospitality industry and feels restaurants could do more to serve quality food while nurturing talent in the industry. She set up the Sweet Beet to provide Texan inspired street food that's good for customers, the staff, and the community.

Tell us about your business

After 14 years within the hospitality industry, I feel let down. And I’m not alone - a shortage of skilled chefs is a sign that we aren’t motivating the next generation. So I created my Texan inspired street food business to inspire the industry to change- driving down staff turnover while nurturing skill and talent.


What did you do before setting up your business?

I worked in the Hospitality Industry for a Rosette Restaurant in Management. I helped to manage teams, sort rotas, open and close the premises, handle cash and other manger duties. Although I enjoy the food industry, I feel as though it is selling itself short.


What inspired you to set up your business?

I feel like the hospitality industry really lets itself down by not treating its staff as skilled workers. For the time and energy that is given to restaurants, the unsocial hours and long nights, employees are not treated as they should be, and businesses shouldn’t be able to hide behind tips or service charge as an excuse not to pay their employees a proper wage.

As they say, if you want something done right- do it yourself. So I’m trying to create a business model that could one day inspire an industry to change, driving down staff turnover and nurturing skill and talent.


What makes this business different?

We have a pretty clear long term goal in mind and that is to have a restaurant/café that will serve to the public a home away from home. My business will find staff that want a career within the food sector, so we can hopefully create an environment full of familiar faces for our clients. The staff will have the opportunity to have a small stake in the business after a year of service, and we when we have meetings to discuss our future plans for the business, all staff will be involved and all ideas will be considered.

I believe the public is willing to pay more in order to support the fair treatment of staff. The Sweet Beet will provide a place for all to come and dine. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free meals will not be an afterthought but rather some of the staple ideas behind the menu where you may add a meat of your choice should you wish to eat it. My business will also give back to the community, giving all food waste to a shelter, volunteering opportunities and teaching schools from a young age the importance of understanding how food travels from the ground to the plate.


What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?

I am part of the Entrepreneurial Spark course and was inspired by others who had participated in the challenge. It came highly recommended and was spoke of very fondly. I feel that in order to make the most of my business, I must grab all opportunities that present themselves. I can only try my best!


Where do you see your business in three years’ time?

I will have a café set up. I feel with my street food I am gathering an organic following with little risk to myself or the business. This is exactly why I started small as I didn’t have the collateral to put towards a location when I began. My jars of Habanero Lime Jelly and Maple Bacon Jam will be in most stores throughout the North East, providing a substantial monthly income that can help to support the café in its early days as well as acting as a tool to gather more of a following and advertisement for the café. A small but dedicated team will be in place, each of us with our own strength to contribute to the business.


What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?

Seeing what I can do! As someone that has struggled with depression and anxiety since fourteen, seeing myself continue to succeed in something means more than I could possibly describe. The validation of my ideas and passion, combined with the support of others that really believe in what I am trying to create, go beyond what I could have ever imagined when starting my journey.


What has been your biggest challenge?

As I am still the only person actually within my business as this point, I would have to say the biggest challenge for me personally is realising my potential. I don’t think you can call it luck but The Sweet Beet has continued to grasp any opportunity placed before it and has never had a stagnant period without growth since our first trading. What started as a ‘let’s see how this works’ has quickly escalated into company that has a following from the public and a pop up in Fenwick. However, I must also keep up with the growth of the business. The challenge is not feeling out of my depth.


Who/what gave you support or advice?

In the beginning, without a doubt it was my father. He started his own oil business a very long time ago and has become a savvy business man. I discussed my idea with him and he pointed me in the right direction. Obviously, my mother as well as she has donated to the company funds for my start up to grow. Mostly though, Entrepreneurial Spark has been a huge rock for me.


What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?

I’ve actually started a blog on my website which touches on the subject. Mostly, I openly talk about what starting a business with a mental illness can feel like, hoping to inspire others. I think the biggest thing is just doing it. Taking the first steps toward your business idea, finding out leanly if your idea is one that others will use, appreciate or enjoy would be my advice on where to start. 


The If We Can You Can Challenge is a competition that recognises and celebrates the best of the North East’s 0-3 year old businesses. 

The competition is now open to all pre-start business ideas or start-ups established in the North East, regardless of the business leader’s age or experience.

For information on how to apply, the competition and its benefits please visitwww.ifwecanyoucan.co.uk Deadline for entries is 16th of October 2016.