“Wow!” said Cyril to Eddie. “That really is delicious, it’s the best potted beef I’ve ever had. How does Mary make it?” And then the killer line, “I reckon I could sell some of this in my shop.”

Eddie Sutherland, Lyons tea salesman, was having lunch in the back room of a customer’s shop in Doncaster. It was the 1920s. Eddie was a top salesman and had an entrepreneurial spirit. He was looking to do something on his own, to really make his mark. Cyril’s comment acted as a trigger.

“What size dishes Cyril? I can only make a small amount, for I’ll have to sneak onto the cart underneath the tea.”

“Bring me five dishes in whatever dishes you can.”


The Value proposition

It was about time for Eddie to share his ideas, with his wife Mary. There was going to be more to his working life than selling tea off the back of a horse-drawn cart. At home later that day he put Old Froggy, his horse, into the stable and went into the house. Mary was in the kitchen. 

“Mary, we’re going to make potted beef and sell it all over Yorkshire!”

Surprised, but not altogether, Mary looked at him. She had come to expect the unexpected.

“We have our first order, Cyril ate some of your special potted beef and wanted to buy some, he thought it was that good. Cyril is chatting to the shopkeepers’ association to spread the word,” he told her excitedly. “Mary, we are going to start our own business.”

Cyril was their first customer. What a defining moment that was! Mary’s special potted beef was now on sale to the general public while Eddie Sutherland’s imagination was going into overdrive.

Mary was a God-fearing woman, pragmatic to boot. She loved Eddie with all her heart but needed to think this thing through. As Eddie painted a picture of their future – which included living in a large hall – Mary shook her head gently. They had nothing. No savings, no lucky charms or magic wand. How was Eddie going to pull this off? He was trying to convince her that they could start their own business with nothing.

“Eddie, how are we to go about it? Where shall we make it? What shall we put it in? Above all, how do we deliver it…?” Mary continued with her line of pragmatic questioning.

“Mary, we can do anything if we put our mind, heart and soul into it. You, my lovely wife, are going to make it, and I am going to deliver it on the Lyons’ Tea cart.”

Read part 1 here.