A family business obsessed with flavour

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Creating a boutique cordial led to a lifetime love for this entrepreneur.

The small family business, Alchemy Cordial Company, started off as a market stall selling home-made cordials back in 1997. It has since turned into a booming manufacturer of naturally flavoured beverages. Founder Michael Bishop is passionate about creating new flavours and growing his small family business.

Q. When did you start Alchemy Cordial Company?
Back in 1997, Alchemy started off as a micro business when I first took some hand crafted cordials to my local market. The labels were hand-coloured in by texts, but the products were very well received by consumers. Instead of displaying the names of the flavours, we gave each cordial an evocative name like ‘Heat’, a chilli and lemon cordial and ‘Love’, a rose petal and lime love potion, which I designed for my girlfriend (now my wife of 25 years).

Q. What do you love the most about working in small business?
I am a classic entrepreneur! What I love most about working in small business is that there is always some new aspect to work on that is engaging or challenging. And in most cases, things that we can work on quickly. The agility of small business is really its greatest asset.

The Alchemy team love their cordial

Q. What are your biggest challenges?
It would have to be (our) ignorance. From recollection, pretty much every significant challenge that we have encountered has come from not knowing what we were doing. Small business is all about personal and professional development and learning. So being curious and always looking for new opportunities and different ways of thinking is essential. Starting with nothing teaches you so much about working your way into profits.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to deal with chasing late payments?
We have stopped our supply. I have tried many times to extend terms and beg for payments from bigger businesses. Now we don’t release more stock until payments are back on terms. We have found it easier to get the payment arrangements clearly understood from the outset, where we state that being out of terms jeopardises supply. This avoids bringing it up later if we do come across a problem.

Q. What do you wish you had known before you began?
I wish I knew how long it takes to become an overnight success. Also, having any understanding of business principals.

Q. Do you outsource anything?
There are few things that we outsource such as freight, accountancy, design and obtaining business advice.

“I love that there is always a new aspect to work on in small business”

Q. Do you go on regular holidays?
Yes I am very fortunate to lead a very balanced life. Often I do travel for work and fun which is enjoyable!

Q. What do you do to take care of yourself and your relationships?
I am a very active person, so I try to surf, swim or sail as often as possible. Living on a farm keeps me both fit and grounded. I also get to share that with my beautiful wife who looks after me wonderfully, as I care for her in return. We are very grateful for the life journey that our small business is providing for us all.

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