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Pivoting your business – by harnessing your contacts

22 Jun 2020

man on smart phone

As some of you know probably know I normally teach people to cook home-style Indian Food in workshops, cookery schools and at demonstrations but with lockdown in force, like many people all my face to face work has stopped.

I have always sold spices in a small way, I have an online shop and I sell them at events but I’ve been thinking for some time about how I can help families caught in the lockdown to make simple dishes together in a fun, sociable way so they can cook and then eat together using easy to find ingredients.

So I decided to launch a monthly subscription service, Lajina’s Curry Club with spices, recipes and tips via the post and a private group on Facebook where I post videos and answer questions and generally encourage people to cook.

For many that would not seem like a huge step, but for me, I just love to talk and interact and engage with people so selling spices online was not my first priority (although they are very good spice mixes!). It was the lockdown that has given me the push I needed and the time to make this happen.

The first thing I did was to talk my idea through with a couple of key contacts including my website guru and my marketing consultant, both encouraged me to ‘get on with it’ and offered any support I needed.

Once I had worked out the costings and roughly how the service would work I set up a private Tasting and Testing group of 25 people to trial my recipes in a Facebook group. I was confident about the taste of the recipes but no much my instructions which to be fair are written from the heart in an instinctive manner and not necessarily as easy to read as they are to explain face to face.

The control group cooked my recipes for a month giving me feedback on what worked and what didn’t, asked me questions and shared their pictures and experiences.  This was invaluable and really helped me focus down on what it was that made my recipes fool proof and adaptable. 

I harnessed the power of my social media (over 6,000 followers on Facebook, Instagram Twitter and LinkedIn) and began to drip feed teasers as to the ‘big reveal’.

I am pleased to say Lajina’s Curry Club was launched on May 11 2020 and the first 25 introductory price places were snapped up in an hour and I had over 60 sign up in the first five days.

What this exercise taught me was the following:

  • If you have an idea talk it over with your trusted colleagues or associates – get their feedback and let them help you to hone and refine your idea.
  • Use a small control group of fans, who love your stuff, get them to test and trial it (for free) and give feedback on pricing, packaging, instructions etc. Listen to their advice.
  • Go for a soft launch first to keep the costs down. Apart from the free spices for my control group the only additional expenditure has been the printing of the recipe cards. I only used my social media contacts and I will continue to trial the subscription service for three months to get it right before spending money on Facebook or Google ads and going nationwide.

Harnessing my contacts to talk things over gave me the confidence to proceed knowing that I was open to advice and constructive criticism in order to get my offer right and pivot my business to an online service.

Thank you for reading, if you want to learn more about me please see

Lajina Leal
Chief Curry Maker & Spice Blender
Lajina Masala

Please note, this content is not produced by the IoD and therefore does not necessarily represent the views or thoughts of the organisation.

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