“No we don’t have a business plan, we need to find our feet first, test the water a little and build from there” – I have found myself saying this quite a bit over the last two years. Usually, people look at you like you might be insane, or at least naïve but are too polite to say so.
We did begin with a general direction of travel, we had a broad vision, but was it wise to pin down every step of the journey we need to take. I’ve been involved in start-ups before and often the business plan is what kills off a new business – it stops you seeing the wood from the trees, your ideas can become too prescribed, and as a consequence costs can spiral.
Ok it’s clichéd, given we are organic flower growers, but an organic, more patient, gentle approach to growing our business has taken shape – resting on a belief that the smallest seeds grow the strongest roots. We have spent the last two years learning, exploring and reflecting.
Blooming good and blooming bad
Has our approach worked? Yes and no, but overall Yes.
I mean we have been in a fortunate position, because one of us has worked away from the farm to subsidise what we do on it – so while we have been impoverished, we have not gone hungry. But the business still exists and is thriving in its own little way. We have not ploughed our life savings into something, that has then failed.
But while one of is away from the farm, progress slows down. Especially with 3 home educated children at our beck and call. The weeds and the children grow as fast as each other and sometimes its hard to find a balance.
We live 100 meters from the farm, but at times that 100 meters may as well be 1000 miles because some days there is just no way of getting the children ready and off. It’s a battle, but we keep going.
We are not just building a business, but also a farm – which means infrastructure, such as fencing, polytunnels, staging, irrigation, ponds, barns and sheds. We started with a blank canvas – even without a water supply. We still don’t have our barn (it’s coming!) and our water supply is troublesome – but its all in the pipeline and when things like this start to be ticked off the list, it’s a massive boost.
I can’t wait to get our barn up, to organise our tools properly, dry reems of flowers and create a studio space for floristry workshops and flower arranging. Icing on the cake – that’s what we are aiming for in 2020.
Learning never stops
We’ve learnt a great deal in two years – about flowers, about ourselves, about each other. We’ve fought and made-up, we’ve cried, pulled our hair out and laughed – sometimes all on the same day. We’ve got things wrong, we’ve got some things right. But most importantly, we love growing flowers, we love enriching the land and seeing a monoculture start to become incredibly diverse.
Time to grow
We’ve laid our foundations, and now we are much clearer where we want to take the business. We are so glad we’ve had chance to reflect, learn and explore. It’s made us feel ready for the next stage – bringing focus to what we want to do and how we might go about it. But we don’t ever want to stop learning, reflecting and growing, because if we do what might we become…?
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