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et’s make products using our family farm’s organic milk!”
“No problem! We’ll be selling nationally in a few months, tops.”
Or so we thought. Yet, two years later…
We started this business knowing we wanted to vertically integrate our family’s fourth-generation organic farm while connecting consumers to the direct source of their food. Our understanding of creating a successful consumer packaged goods (CPG) business was minimal, but we had passion and grit. So we jumped blindly into the unknown, trusting the process and our vision. We quickly realized that if we were going to attain our goals, we’d need to ask for help from experts and, in turn, invest in those experts. Of course, we knew that this venture would be difficult and uncomfortable. As we moved forward, we kept in mind two essential truths:
- Hard work in the short term reaps long-term results, and
- Growth comes when you persist through the discomfort of learning new things
Right from the beginning, we knew we needed help turning our dreams into reality, so we hired our first business consultant, Noah, to whom we told our many ideas, objectives, and concerns. It was such a relief to work with a professional who could help lay the groundwork. He didn’t give us the magical answers to success that we had hoped for—but he explained the process and gave us invaluable advice. Working with Noah taught us a crucial lesson: no one will make your dreams a reality for you, but there are people who can help.
Noah helped us with the next step of our journey—developing a business plan to present to potential investors and banks. We didn’t anticipate how much this process would teach us about running our company. Aspects we were set on changed, shifted, and became null. We were disappointed, confused, and impatient when things we had been hoping for couldn’t happen within our timeline, if at all. But instead of sulking, we progressed, even when a huge wrench had been thrown into our plans.
For months we had worked on our business plan with a specific goal: to build a processing plant near the farm to turn our milk into value-added dairy products. We had already hired the architect, sought the resources, picked the location, researched zoning, toured other plants for ideas, spoke with machinery companies, and planned the labor force required to facilitate the plant. Every breath we took went into “the processing plant.”
But suddenly, we were overcome by the realization that we could build this incredibly expensive plant, and it would not guarantee that products would sell. It was devastating to imagine that our months of work might amount to nothing. But Noah kept us grounded and helped us develop a new business plan centered around partnering with a manufacturer to create products for us utilizing our family farm’s milk and creating a marketing plan to sell these products.
With his guidance, we doubled down and created a team tailored to our needs. It was our time; we could feel it. We had hired experienced professionals to help us obtain our goals, and thanks to them, those goals were finally within our reach. Those professionals were expensive, but we were either going to pay for their expertise or pay for our mistakes. We chose the former.
We didn’t have additional money to put into the project. So, we held a community fundraiser, hoping that we’d get a bank loan once the business plan was complete. With the support of our experienced team, we made conversation, made mentors, made connections, and most importantly, made progress. We prepared and presented our plan to the bank. It took months of paperwork and a lot of hope, but we got the loan. The process taught us an invaluable lesson: don’t be afraid to invest in the long term.
Now, with our qualified team and a much-anticipated bank loan, after nearly two years, we’re launching our products. Every day, new situations present themselves that we must navigate and learn from, but with a positive attitude, hard work, and investment in a skilled team, we continue moving forward.
For more on the authors, click here.
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