What I Wish I Knew – Francesca Strange, founder of The Proof

The Proof
The Proof
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
18 February 2022

Francesca Strange is a self-taught cook and baker. She founded The Proof bakery after her friends and family raved about her puddings. 

With support from Virgin StartUp, Francesca has grown The Proof into a successful business that now offers nationwide delivery of delicious cakes, pastries and tasty treats. 

We caught up with Francesca to find out three things she wishes she had known when she started out in business…

How broke we would be in the early days of growing the business

Every penny we make is reinvested into the business to support its growth, which obviously means that I haven't had a proper salary for two years. That's even harder to manage when you have a young family to support. 

Ultimately, my belief in the business makes this sacrifice worth it, but thinking about it versus actually experiencing it are very, very different things. I wish I had been more prepared mentally for the guilt and struggle that having no cash would have.

The Proof
The Proof

The importance of branding

Branding is hugely important when it comes to standing out as a new business in an industry like food. Our brand aesthetic and DNA is so strong now but it's taken a while to get here and I think we would have had more success earlier if we had nailed this when we launched.

It helps to achieve credibility and increases interest when your branding is strong across all mediums and it should be a priority when you are getting ready to launch. Spending money on resources like photo shoots, PR, marketing and how everything looks is what has set us apart from other similar visual businesses and I was reluctant at first as cash is tight, but the results have been worth every penny.

How much time it takes

I always knew I would need to put my heart and soul into growing The Proof but realistically I spend every waking moment working on it. 

The irony is I started my business because I wanted to be available more to my children, when actually I'm busier than ever. It's all consuming because it's mine and I feel hugely passionate about it, its potential and also conscious of the weight of responsibility over making it work. You have to have 100% commitment if you want to make it work.

Inspired to start your own business? Visit Virgin StartUp for advice, guidance and Start Up Loans.