Name: Lynsey Harley.

Age: 35.

What is your business called?

Modern Standard Coffee.

Where is it based?

Glenrothes and Edinburgh (where we have a café to open soon in Bruntsfield)

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

We source speciality coffee from quality-focused producers, and trade with them in an ethical and transparent way. We roast those coffees, sometimes keeping them as single origins, others we blend together for espressos, and we retail those to cafes, restaurants, hotels, offices and people at home.

To whom does it sell?

We currently retail in Sainsburys, through our online web shop and through small farm shops and delis throughout Scotland. But our main channel is cafes, restaurants and hotels. We sell to cafes throughout the UK, and into Europe too.

What is its turnover?

£2.5 million.

We supply coffee to hospitality businesses which include chains of restaurants, cafes and aparthotels. Back in March, a few of our customers temporarily closed, some reopened in early June and some have planned to reopen in 2021. It was great that the government gave support to restaurants, shops, cafes, hotels etc in the form of a business rate holiday and business rate grant for those with a rateable value under £51,000, but the supply chain to those businesses was forgotten about. Thankfully, we were able to scale back on costs quickly and have remained profitable throughout. Supplying a major UK supermarket and exporting to Europe, combined with an insane increase in demand via our online web-shop, really helped us keep busy and limited the number of people I had on furlough. We've also delayed investments, and speeded up the release of new products, so it has forced us into making quick decisions, I'm hoping I can look back believing I made the correct ones.

How many employees?

We currently have 16 employees.

When was it formed?

In March 2015, I think I roasted our first batch of coffee coincidentally on International Women’s Day (8th March), but I didn’t realise that at the time, I was just so excited to get started.

Why did you take the plunge?

There were no businesses in the coffee sector that I wanted to work for, so I decided to create one that I did, and thankfully 15 other people want to work for it too.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I had a six-month break from finishing up in my last job (selling raw (Green) coffee to other roasters), but starting a business doesn’t just happen, lots of things need to align before you can start.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

Borrowed money from my mum (she gave me her entire pension but I didn’t know that then), quite a bit more from my in laws (thanks Lesley & Michael!), a loan from the bank and some savings that I had. I basically scraped together six figures and personally guaranteed that money, so I had quite the motivation to make it work.

What was your biggest break?

Landing a retail deal with Sainsburys after six months, then just picking up other small - medium sized customers to give myself a nice spread of clients. I just kept going forward and didn’t really look up until three years in, I’ve worked a crazy amount of hours that I probably don’t want to admit to, but it was a bit addictive.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

The buzz and the relentlessness of it. The harder I work the more I get back, and that’s not just financial, but it can be the small things like helping a colleague grow and develop, and rewarding them for that, to people calling up and telling you they like your product. I received an email once from my old maths teacher Mrs Mackay saying that she had heard of my business and was very proud of me, and that was nice.

What do you least enjoy?

The fact I struggle to switch off. I have a very active mind, and I’m constantly thinking about things. I think it’s a plus in some respects, but frustrating in others when I’m trying to relax and then I remember something I haven’t done.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

Global coffee domination. I like to think big :)

What are your five top priorities?

Making more people passionate about coffee, keeping my team happy and working hard, making time for myself more, having fun and getting my cafe open in Edinburgh.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Be clear with their communications, especially around what we can and cannot do, and for those businesses affected by lockdowns, give meaningful support. And for Westminster to figure out what we’re doing with Brexit; all this uncertainty isn’t healthy for businesses and job creation.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Trust your instincts, and lead by example.

How do you relax?

Spending time with my family and exercising. My partner Hannah is just amazing, I’m very lucky to have such a supportive other half. Last year, she gave birth to our son, Teddy, and we’ve another on the way due in March next year.