From a garden shed to a multi-million pound enterprise

Pip Murray, CEO and Founder of Pip & Nut – the UK’s leading all-natural nut butter brand – tells SME about her journey as an entrepreneur and the lessons she learnt along the way

Just over a decade ago, I planted the first seed of my business. Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey is a leap of faith, and in an increasingly complex environment for SMEs, I have learnt countless lessons about the importance of perseverance, commitment, and leadership.

When I first started training for a marathon in 2013, I could not have imagined where it would lead me to today. In search of a healthy post-run snack, I consistently found that the nut butters available on shelves were full of palm oil – a leading cause of deforestation, and a cause of potential adverse health effects. I began making my own, palm-oil free, peanut butter in my kitchen, and some months later, decided to start selling them at London’s Maltby Street Market every weekend – which allowed me to find out what consumers truly thought, beyond my friends and family.

The real turning point came when I was lucky enough to win a competition in which I was able to live and work rent-free in a garden shed, with the sole focus of scaling my business. Quitting my job and moving out of my flat was a huge leap of faith – but one that certainly paid off. Being given the privilege of time, and the eradication of all my overheads, allowed me to channel all of my focus and attention to Pip & Nut. I was also able to launch a crowdfunding campaign, raising £120k in just nine days. My experience in the shed left me with a lesson that I have taken throughout my journey as a business leader – grasp every opportunity that comes your way, even when it seems ‘out of the box’.

The knowledge that taking risks is necessary has carried me through my journey with Pip & Nut. Pitching our product to retailers, and finding a manufacturer and factory which suited our product ambitions, was a challenge which I was able to face head on – and within a matter of months, we launched in Selfridges and Sainsbury’s.

Today, Pip & Nut is the UK’s fastest-growing all-natural nut butter brand, and we are stocked in over 3,000 stores and found in over 40,000 distribution points across the UK. Given the challenges facing start-ups and SMEs, including funding, talent retention, sustainability and organisational design, I am extremely proud to have led the business to this success, and to have such a fantastic team behind me. A particularly big moment for me was certification as a B-Corp in 2019, formally recognising our commitment to being a business which has a positive impact on people and planet. I am also a member of the B-Lab Board of Trustees, where I help drive the B-Corp movement forwards in the UK and showcase how businesses can be used as a force for good.

A huge pillar of my journey growing my business has been a commitment to sustainability. Consciously driving forward ethical business practices to galvanise positive environmental and social change has been a priority for me since day one, and a USP of ours is our commitment to being palm-oil free and sourcing sustainably. As such, I truly believe that sustainability leads to business growth, and I encourage all other leaders and entrepreneurs to adopt the same commitment to having a positive impact on the world and people around us.

I would never have thought that running a marathon would lead me to quit my job and build a business from scratch in a shed – but I couldn’t be prouder to do something I truly love every day, and to have grown Pip & Nut into a commercially successful and ethically responsible enterprise. I would strongly encourage others to turn passion into project, and take the unconventional path anywhere possible.