My Top Ten Tips
It is just a bit hard to believe that we are entering our seventh year growing cut flowers and is safe to say that much has changed from 2016.
We went from having no outlets to sell our flowers in year one and giving almost everything away to now servicing 80 subscriptions, 20+ weddings, five retail outlets and expansion in several additional areas.
In this post I thought I would share my top 10 tips that have aided me over the last seven years.
Tip 1. Start small and work for it.
-This allows you to make mistakes without huge consequences. When I first started, I didn’t have a dedicated space to work in, I didn’t have a cooler, mulch layer, stem chopper, I didn’t have a lot of things but what I did have was land to grow on and a stubborn attitude to make this work. The tools of the trade that make your job easier will come with time.
The second half of this is that you have to be willing to work for it. If you are still working your day job that means you are going to be putting in the hours before and after work, you are going to be doing it by yourself because you can’t afford help, you are going to feel overwhelmed, frustrated and lonely but I promise you’ll be okay.
Tip 2. Learn from the best, do your research and do not be afraid to ask questions.
-I have invested in several hands on and online workshops from growers that I respect tremendously. I remember the very first class gave me the confidence and I left there thinking…”I can totally do this”. I’m not sure where I would be right now if I hadn’t made those investments.
Tip 3. No debt.
-Do not, do not, do not leverage yourself to the max. I follow another grower on Instagram who took out well over $400,000 just to get her business up and going. She is doing a great job and on social media looks like she is killing it. She might be, she might be grossing more than I am each year or she might not be.
I can guarantee that I sleep better at night.
I knew when I started this business I would work my day job until I could replace my income. There is no way that I wanted to risk the land that has been in my family for over 100 years. I would rather develop a business that takes twice as long but has a firm foundation. Maybe it’s because my dad died young, maybe it’s because I have seen life happen to others but I knew from the get go that I would be okay with the growth taking a little longer so that I didn’t have a ton of business debt hanging over my head.
Tip 4. Get off your phone and read.
-There are so many amazing authors out there. A few of my favorites have been:
Cool Flowers – Lisa Mason Ziegler
The Lean Farm – Ben Hartmen
Dirt to Soil – Gabe Brown
Profit First – Mike Michalowicz
Tip 5. Take a vacation
-Over the years I have heard so many grower’s say that they can’t leave the farm. Let me tell you…I can! In fact you have to and you have to do it during the growing season. I need a break in July, yep we loose money, yep we loose flowers but my brain and body need a week off to replenish and get ready for the second half of the season. Life is not guaranteed and making memories with my family is more important that flowers.
Tip 6. Learn what works for your business.
-You will learn what sales outlets, what flowers, etc work for your business. You do not have to do it all.
Tip 7. Not everyone is your customer.
-This took me awhile to accept. I feel like I could say a lot about this and should probably watch myself but you will have difficult customers, difficult brides (thankfully both of these have been incredibly minimal in my experience), you will have people tell you that your prices are too high. If they could see how hard you work in a day they would pay you triple. Remember, you are not Amish!
Tip 8. Look back at where you started.
-It’s really easy to feel like you are treading water and not making progress. Don’t forget to stop and look back at where you were a year ago, two years ago, etc. You will be amazed at how far you’ve come.
Tip 9. Stick with it.
-I asked my son what advice he has. He was just a little guy (maybe 6 or 7) when I started this and has watched us struggle and fight for it. His advice was stick with it and go with your gut. That makes me feel really good because we're teaching him to work for something and not give up. Thanks Koy!
Tip 10. Find something that feeds your soul outside of your business.
-You have to have a hobby that fills you up outside of your work. The flowers are beautiful but the work and labor that goes into them is absolutely exhausting. I try to exercise every morning, we love hiking, I like to take pictures of our cows (I am not even remotely good at photography but I love taking their pictures), in fact I love cattle just as much if not more than growing flowers. We have big plans for our beef herd, rotational grazing and beef offerings in the future. The other seriously guilty pleasure that I have is traveling. I love love love sitting and sipping my coffee in the mornings and looking at different trips that I have on my bucket list…just ask my husband…it's a problem but what can I say, I'm an Enneagram 7...it's completely normal!
Bonus. Do not fall into the comparison trap.
-If I can leave you with one final tip, it is do not compare yourself. Everyone is on a different chapter and I found myself falling into this trap at the end of last season. It came to the point that I took a break from social media for 6 weeks and now only follow a handful of other flower growers, instead I follow beef farmers, fitness and other accounts that interest me outside of what I do.
Whether you are a business owner or have the dream of starting something in the future I hope a few of these tips help you as you move forward.