The Farmer’s Office
People often ask me what farmers do come winter with a slight note of concern accompanying the questions; Where do we work? How do we get anything done without warm weather? Seem to be some of the pressing issues on their minds.
When Outgrowth asked me to compile this list, I was grateful for the opportunity to offer answers and give a glimpse into a farmer’s winter office to show how we keep busy through every season.
1. Business Operations & Management
Before starting an urban farm, I had a career working in retail management; working my way up from a sales position at Nordstrom to becoming a store manager and buyer at a luxury boutique in Soho. Through this climb, I learned about large scale operations and small scale, boutique business models.
While this path wasn’t ultimately the best fit for me, I have been able to transfer a lot of the management skills I obtained during this portion of my professional life to how I operate Coeur et Sol. Scheduling and executing reports, trackers, and other misc. record keeping tactics not only holds business owners accountable, it also sets the foundation and intention for growth. Mapping out a schedule for yourself weekly, along with creating a spreadsheet or journal to track each tether of your business is key. For example, in agriculture crop and rotation planning is an imperative step and provides insight for potential losses, the same way a product or service is developed. The most vital piece of record keeping is that you will be cultivating living documentation for every stage of your business. No matter how big or small your business is right now, it’s always the right time to start.
2. Budget & Financial Planning
Planning ahead will keep you on your projected path. In agriculture, it is difficult to plan to the exact cent due to variable expenses, but projected models can keep you on track when it’s time to budget your harvests. To account for these factors (such as weather, animal or human interference, etc.), I always round planned costs up generously to account for loss of resources or time as well.
Agriculture businesses requires budgeting like any other industry, if not more so. Developing a financial plan, both long and short-term, will set the precedent for your business’ success. If you are running an ethical, socially conscious business there are many available resources and grants to support the sustainable and charitable aspects of your business— even if you are for profit, like us!
3. Community Research and Outreach
Although the weather outside may not be favorable for farming, it’s the perfect time to try and warm the hearts of your most important customers - those right in your hometown. I have been using this winter to develop strategies to involve my immediate community in my business, as well as build relationships with the sustainable agriculture community in New Jersey and the greater tri-state area. Your community can be a virtual or literal, relying on your brand presence online or your physical presence in a specific location. No matter the medium, communication is instrumental for growth.
If you learn to see the individuals through the sea of city residents or social media followers, you can begin to nurture organic relationships with your target market(s). My go to mindset is to picture social media as a town hall meeting. What would they stand up and ask you? And would you have the answers? How can you adjust to become more in tune with the most important people in your company— your clients and the community from which your business grows? Thinking in these terms encourages you to actively engage with those interested in your business, and develop an intuition that allows you to better meet the needs of your immediate community, whether in person or online.
I challenge you to outline these three pieces of your business. It will be the first stage of setting the intention for a successful and productive 2018!
With love + growth,