Lyss is a social entrepreneur with her own business BLYSSchocolate. Her mission is not only to create extraordinary chocolate but also to improve the way food systems could be better and sustainable. She gave up her job in the corporate world to become a real change maker and she empowers people to become change makers themselves.
Lyss, you gave up your job in the corporate world to found your own business and create a very special chocolate. Was it easier or more difficult as you thought at the beginning?
On a soul level, every day is easier because I am living my dream. Actually spending the hours in my day working on something I believe in, and actively contributing to the positive chance I wish to see in the world. Although chocolate is my tool and metaphor, it is really all about being the example of responsible food production from source to recipe. That feels great, every day.
On a functional level, a start has been hard. We will be 5 years old in August, and I have still not been paid a wage. I think every entrepreneur goes through years without paying themselves and reinvesting every little inch forward with development and growth. We are a social enterprise, which means almost 100% of my cost of goods are spent in evolving the industry and communities we work in. So from this perspective, it is a constant battle because we live in an economy that rewards hard-core capitalism and those are not the heuristics that we judge our work by.
The first years are best characterised by schizophrenia and tourrets syndrome. After a while, like this year, I feel like ‘just’ maniac. That is a relief.
Do you need a master plan for projects like that?
Again, it depends on what you judge your success by, and by whose standards you live up to. We have a plan in BLYSS to actively influence agroecoloy and food sovereignty standards. We have a strict program that governs it, which is called ‘bean2belly’ and the chairman sits outside of our GmbH, and is my mother. She works together with a quality Assurance officer who audits our work, to ensure it meets the standards of what we are looking to achieve. This is like a separation of powers, whereby the daily decisions that I make are aligned on a quarterly basis to our big vision. Having plans and controls in place like this, ensure the constant re-navigation of a dream occurs in flight.
Of course things like business case, budget control, regulatory compliance are part of the daily job. There are great organisations who help this, like the Finanzamt, Ordnungsamt and IHK who are kind and friendly people when you come with open hands and ask for guidance. These are functional skills that anyone can learn, and you just need to get over yourself, and ask the questions. And most importantly, listen to the answer!
Was it worthwhile investing that path?
Abso*fucking*lutely I would redo every decision, every day. No regrets, all learning and all in evolution.