When this whole idea started, we decided to keep it on the down low until we were sure we could commit fully to this endeavor (especially since we all have full-time careers). We wanted to make sure that we could commit the time and resources to doing it the right way. With none of us having any type of business experience…this was quite the risk. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to. With ignorance a blessing, we dove right into the opportunity. So how did we start?
This blog is by no means a recipe for success, it is simply tips on the things we have learned in the first 6 months since we started our business.
We highly recommend that you take the Business Fundamentals course offered by the Small Business Development Group. It’s a $35.00 course, but well worth the money. They give you a great deal of resources on how to get started, an instruction guide that is a great tool after the course and assign you a business coach that will answer your craziest questions…and believe me, we had some off the wall questions. Our Business Coach (and Cheerleader), Todd Crump has been a great asset for our company and continues to be a resource for us as we move forward.
Research – We already do this in a different capacity daily…As a Lieutenant in the State Police – studying and investigating details that many don’t consider. As an Office Manager – capturing the essential details of the daily grind in an office to keep things running smooth. As a teacher and Coach – teaching American History is totally from research and coaching deals with studying tendencies and trends. As a PhD and Safety professional – many years of research, teaching in higher education and studying employee behaviors to reduce accidents.
So…research is invaluable. We had to learn the methods for planting, harvesting, business development, product development, marketing, and much more. Our advice is READ, READ and READ some more. Then visit similar businesses and absorb everything they are willing to teach you.
Resources – Unfortunately starting a business is not free. You need to have equity and property that you can use. We each made a fractional financial investment. In addition, we are fortunate to have prime property for this endeavor in a great location. We have learned that if you do not have these resources, the US Dept. of Agriculture offers low interest loans for approved small businesses with a farming emphasis. The SBA also offers small business loans. We are hoping that we can support our efforts without these mechanisms. However, they are there to help if you need it.
Personal Support – Starting a business takes more than the investment of the owners. It takes the support of family and friends to encourage you, provide feedback, and a willingness to help promote your business to their friends. Support also comes from random strangers that share advice or tips to make your business run just a little smoother.
Set goals and time frames for these goals. Going into a business…you always need a game plan. What do you want to accomplish? Set a timeline and push to meet those time frames. Without sharing too much private information…we set a goal in sales for our value-added products in our first 3 months. With great customer satisfaction, we have almost doubled that goal with two more weeks before our 3-month time frame is met. We will set another goal after that to keep moving forward.
Organization and Planning – we started with small ideas and things have evolved since then. You need to decide what you want your final picture to look like. Where do you want to be? But more importantly, how do you get to that final picture? Our vision is to offer a fully functional lavender farm supported by agritourism. We plan to offer U-pick events, workshops and a wedding venue. Once we have enough lavender blooms, we will distill our own essential oil and offer our lavender to various commercial operations as a supplement to agritourism. We continue to discuss how we will get to this vision and set new goals regularly.
Tonight, we leave you with a picture of our Stone House Lavender Starter Kit. Pencil and paper for your ideas and a little lavender.
- Stone House Lavender Crew