The long haul

31 May 2010

It’s vital to accept the fact that you are almost certainly going to have eight or 10 hard years before your business becomes successful, says John Teeling.

“You’re likely to be in the valley of death, as it’s called, from the first couple of years – if you survive them – up to about year seven or eight. In the case of the whiskey, it was 16 years!

“If you’re going to build the business and run it, you’ve got to understand that it’s not a short-term thing. It’s not necessarily a lifetime thing, but it will take time.”

Long payback time

Because they’re usually high-risk, high-potential ventures, Teeling’s interests – Cooley Distillery, Pan Andean Resources, West African Diamonds (now Stellar Diamonds) and African Gold, for example – tend to have a particularly long payback time.

“When we go out to drill a hole some place, we’re seven or eight years away from production,” he points out. “Our diamond discovery was 2004 – it’ll come on stream at the end of 2011 and there won’t be dividends out of it until 2014 or 2015 at best.

“But all business is like that. Businesses go into this valley of death when you’re struggling to get your niche.”

Photo: John Teeling, founder of Cooley Distillery

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