7 lessons in 7 months – life lessons our business has taught us through exponential growth

If someone had told us a year ago what would be involved in running our business – an idea that stemmed as an emotional project to assist the hospitality industry through the pandemic, I think we would have run in the opposite direction. Going through it however has taught us our biggest learnings yet and looking back – we wouldn’t change a thing.


In just seven months, Co-lab Pantry formed an online pantry, hundreds of hands-on partnerships, onboarded over 1000 sku’s from more than 150 vendors, turned over 7 figures; all with the goal to elevate the hospitality sector by making good food easily accessible and to streamline shopping experiences.


Co-Lab Pantry product


On the inside, it felt like being in a pressure-cooker, and in pressurised environments, meaningful lessons are learnt. We discovered more about ourselves than we had in the 30 years prior and here’s what we took away…


1. Sweat the small stuff (yes, do sweat them!)

A phrase we hear so often you should take in reverse. All the small details count in enhancing your offering. Honing in allows you to understand your customers better so that you can communicate more effectively and continue to refine all the important parts of the customer journey.


2. Surround yourself with good people

You are the company you keep. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and back you so that you feel ready to take on the world even when it doesn’t seem like it. Running a business is tough, so you need to be prepared for a lot of hard work, lack of sleep, setbacks and rejections. We cannot express enough how important it is to have a support network in your corner, no matter how big or small. Just ensure you have one. And if you don’t, find something good to encourage you throughout the hard times.


3. Being agile is key

Having the ability to adapt allows you to move and pivot through adversity as well as continue to evolve.


4. You can’t control everything

Being perfectionists makes us want to have control to ensure nothing goes wrong but there are some things that are simply out of our control. If you spend too much time focusing on things you can’t control, you will miss the opportunity to put that focus into things you can control.


5. Do things the right way, even if that’s longer and harder

We always make decisions based on our values. This helps us to make stronger decisions and to feel more comfortable about them. Sometimes it turns into a longer and more difficult route, however we believe the best things come from doing the right thing.


6. Making time for yourself is productive, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Being hard workers, it has been difficult learning to switch off. We would work all through the night and feel guilty if we took a break. Making time for yourself to rest and do nothing, allows you to recharge, be clear-minded and more productive when you are working. Time for yourself is more crucial than you think. You don’t want to resent your work, so ensure you’re recharged and ready to go.


7. Confrontation isn’t as bad as it seems

Express yourself regularly, especially when under pressure – Confronting things, people and situations in the right way rarely ever ends up in the result you think it will – it usually ends up better. Vent, get it out and move on.

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