Sarah’s wonderful honey story

Honey maker Mileeven was set up by Sarah Gough’s mother Eilis in 1988, having started out as a beekeeper’s hobby. Sarah joined in 2007. The company’s ‘Sarah’s Wonderful Honey’ brand recently got listed in 477 Sainsbury’s stores across the UK.

If I were to describe what we do? We are a family food business producing high quality, innovative products, including honey, preserves and Christmas products.

I am quite hard on myself so don’t often sit back and look at what we have achieved. I’m much more likely to think what about what we could do better. That keeps us driving forward, but may not be so healthy for your mind. When I meet a customer who loves our product, though; that’s when I feel a sense of achievement. Nothing beats that.

“Surviving the recession was an achievement too but part of me feels that, as a business person, that is expected of you, as opposed to being an achievement.”

Like any business there are tough days and sleepless nights, and times when you wonder why you do it, but right now I can’t remember the reasons for any of that. I think I just put them behind me. If something arises, my mindset is very much about resolving it and moving on. I don’t dwell on things. Business is business, it’s not personal, and you can’t get too emotional about it. Work hard and keep moving forward.

As I said, I can’t think of any major setback we had.  That’s not to say we haven’t had them, but again, it’s how you look at things. Is it a setback or just part and parcel of running a business?

“When it comes to risk? Do your research and then go for it. If there is no research to be had, then go with your gut feeling. It’s generally right.”

Who inspires me? I run the business with my Mum, and that’s great because she totally understands what it’s like. She also keeps me motivated during times when I’d much rather be sitting on a beach!

To switch off, I run. I run with Kilkenny City Harriers but when my head is full of work, I love nothing more than heading to the woods for a run – just me, my dog and nature. It’s pure peace and quiet whether it is rain, hail or shine. And living in the part of Kilkenny that I do, where every place is hilly, I have to concentrate so much just to get up those hills that there isn’t much time to think about work.

“If I was starting again today, I’d get more capital. And patience. Things take much more time than you think they will.”

If I could give anyone starting out or growing some advice? Don’t be too emotional about it – be passionate but pragmatic. Aim big, and regardless of your size, run your business like it’s a big business. It’s very hard to implement change as you grow. It’s much better to start out acting like a big company, by implementing big company systems and set-ups, and then grow into them.

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