Name, title & company name?
Aman Johal, Founder, 40 St Pauls and Hockley Tonic.
In a few words, tell us what your business does?
40 St Pauls is a specialist gin bar in Birmingham. I have also founded a premium range of tonic waters – Hockley Tonic.
When did you know that you wanted to get involved with a start-up/small business and what made you finally take the plunge?
My family owned pubs so I’ve always been around the industry. And after being a bartender for a while, I got really into cocktail making. I must have had a flair for it as I won two national bar-tending competitions!
I wanted to pursue my passion, so with a combination of a Start-Up loan and some family support, I started my own business.
Ironically, I’m not a massive gin fan but I could see the opportunity to differentiate, as gin has such a complex range of flavours, and is having a huge renaissance in popularity.
My cocktail making past meant I knew that there is so much that goes into a perfect gin and tonic. And while I think I’ve got close, I’m still trying to make it!
How has progress been to date?
I’ve survived the all-important first year, and the bar is now seeing week on week growth.
The tonic brand – Hockley Tonic – is gaining traction too. People are realising that if they spend £30-plus on bottle of gin, they don’t necessarily want to mix it with supermarket mixers.
I’ve launched Hockley as I believe most tonics out there are too sweet and overpower the delicate flavours and botanicals in quality gins.
Why did you choose KPMG Small Business Accounting?
I was looking for a credible accountant that could really get my business off on a firm footing. I wouldn’t say KPMG were the cheapest I could have gone for, but the combination of the service, and the technology they provide has made a huge difference to my business.
How have KPMG Small Business Accounting and your dedicated KPMG accountant helped you?
The accounting software provided is so simple to use (I’m on the standard package where you do your own bookkeeping), and it makes my life so much easier. I’d go so far as to say that anyone who’s been brought up using computers can grasp it really quickly.
My accountant has also been incredibly supportive and he does his very best to prevent me from making any accounting errors. Trying to run a bar and a product line gives me limited time and resource, so having someone who understands my sector and is there to review the numbers helps my peace of mind.
I’ve recommended the service many times to friends and contacts I have in the bar industry, and will continue to do so.
What’s next for your business?
Now I’ve got a solid year’s trading under my belt, I’m looking to grow and expand.
I believe the bar concept and the tonic brand both have significant potential, so my next step is to seek additional funds to help me scale up as quickly as possible.
And while that’s happening, I’ll be working on crafting the perfect gin and tonic!
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