A taste of success: Theo Michaels and 123 Reg
Celebrity chef Theo Michaels is the ultimate Self Starter. Eight years ago, Theo resigned from his corporate job in London and started wearing an apron for a living. Today, he is a popular TV chef, award-winning author and new-found coffee shop owner. This is his story.
Finding that ultimate sweet spot
When Theo Michaels made the semi-finals of Masterchef back in 2014, he realised it was time to ditch corporate life and fuel his passion. He opened up a pop-up restaurant championing Greek cuisine, before becoming established as a private chef. More recently, he is a weekly resident chef on Steph’s Packed Lunch, has published six cookbooks and started a new venture: Lazy Bear Coffee.
“The opportunity presented itself and we grabbed it with both hands.”
Lazy Bear Coffee is a space local to Theo, which has had many guises throughout the years. He was given the chance to transform the shop into somewhere he would go, and stamp his personality into it. Seizing the opportunity, Theo launched his start-up business and continues learning every day.
“I think you have to say yes to stuff and figure out how you’ll do it. It’s like having kids. You do all the maths and you don’t know if it works and there’s never a right time… But it isn’t about achieving perfection from day one, because there’s a million things you don’t know. When you strive to make something perfect, you naturally put loads of obstacles in the way. So just start the business.”
“Starting a business is like having kids.”
An ever-evolving process, there is much to discover on the journey to running a business. Theo translated his business idea for Lazy Bear Coffee into a reality and it took its own form, something he has found in the various companies he has started – from a 15-year recruitment agency to a weekly meal planner.
“The vision we had was probably 75% there and that other 25% was very pliable and organic. A lot of business owners start a business and think ‘I would like that’ but as it starts to get into fruition, they like it for a different reason. Ultimately, we found it’s not really for us but everyone that visits. If they’re not enjoying it then our vision means nothing.”
As a Self Starter, Theo openly admits that the biggest obstacle he faced was a lack of knowledge and experience. As an Executive Chef, he understood how to feed 400 people delicious food but not how to run a coffee shop.
“There’s loads of parts to the jigsaw. The main thing was holding onto our beliefs – serving amazing coffee as efficiently as possible. We realised if we could get that one core thing right, and hold onto it, then everything else would start to fall into place.”
Strengthening the daily grind
Theo Michaels is a business owner who sees things realistically. He tells us that running a business is harder than working for one.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that nothing goes to plan. It doesn’t go to plan at all, and you have to have real passion in what you’re trying to build. Don’t think it’s going to run itself. The reality is you’re going to have to graft everyday. At times, it’s going to be painful so have passion and believe in what you’re doing.”
“People see that tip of the iceberg but not the whole mountain of progress underneath.”
Hard work, sacrifice, and a lot of mistakes are to be made but that’s all part of the journey. He says there’s too many challenges to mention, but trusts they should be embraced as an opportunity to improve.
“Nine times out of ten, you won’t know what the challenges are when starting a business. You won’t know until you dive in. You’ve got to get on with it and embrace every failure.”
Theo shares praise for the 1% theory, a philosophy that has helped him to grow Lazy Bear Coffee. He explains that there’s no need to make giant steps, since it’s perfectly possible to get there with little ones.
“If you can improve everything by 1%, it has a massive impact. When you continue to do that, suddenly everything is a bit better. It’s mad to think about the amount of times we’ve changed certain processes and the thought that goes into it. We’re constantly tweaking and making small but incremental improvements.”
Building a brand that’s anything but bland
With a strong TV presence, Theo Michaels needed an online presence to match. The go-to domain provider for his first and existing business ventures, 123 Reg was the instinctive choice for Lazy Bear Coffee. Arguing that registering a domain is the perfect place to start when it comes to running a business, Theo believes it’s all about that first step.
“Being a Self Starter means getting stuff done: making it happen, taking actions and not procrastinating.”
“Get your domain name – that’s your acorn – and it all grows from there. I’ve been using 123 Reg since 2014 and it was a natural progression, a no-brainer. There’s a reason why companies gain loyalty, a reason why we stick with them. The reality is there’s a million people out there that sell domain names but 123 Reg are a trusted source. I know I’m in safe hands.”
Theo learnt that IT didn’t need to be his cup of tea when it came to building a website. He confesses he isn’t technically-minded, but with the help of 123 Reg team, cooked up a website as tasty as his recipes.
“One of the biggest things I like about 123 Reg is being able to liaise with a human being. Not only did they build us something, they were really helpful with advising how it would be shaped and how it should look. Shoutout to Adrian, big love to you!”
“My experience was easy, hands-off and took the headache out of building a website.”
With 123 Reg, building a website is simple and easy. Theo uses his to keep people up to date with goings on at his business.
“We’re evolving like every business and the website is a great place to communicate without bombarding people. We can feature events that are coming up, advertise our office space upstairs and more. I think having a website for a local business is still vital, it’s about embracing the local community and sharing what we do and what we have to offer. I recommend 123 Reg to anyone that needs an online presence.”
On joining the community of Self Starters and launching a business, Theo Michaels would say “go for it”.
“If you’ve got something, go against the other 99% of the population and just go for it.”
He believes there’s a fine line between procrastination and perfection which means most people don’t start, but it’s not enough reason to give up.
“There’s a danger of people striving for perfection before they’ve started. I actually think 90% of the battle is getting stuff done. So just go forward, drive forward.”
If you’re inspired by Theo’s story and ready to get a taste for being your own boss, we’re ready to help. We also love hearing about our customers’ success stories. So, if you have a great story to share about how 123 Reg has helped your online business, get in touch.