We grow through challenges

I once heard it said: ‘Iron doesn’t become steel until it has been through the fire’.

It’s important to remember, that when we face challenges it is not that ‘life is out to get us’ but rather an opportunity to develop the good and strong side of us.

We had a lot of stress and felt very badly treated by a wind developer, but Richard and I have now learned to forgive, and I have to say, I would highly recommend the principle of forgiving, there’s no better road to having peace of mind!

Our poor cows are under threat again, with a TB reactor showing up in the last test. These are not just cows we are having to send to slaughter, these are our babies, that we handreared from they were week-old calves. It breaks my heart, but it also teaches me that being upset about something doesn’t mean that everything else is bad, I have learned to focus on the good things rather than dwell on the problems and challenges.

The first steps

Needless to say that we have been very busy lately, there is a lot to think about when starting a new business. One of the things we are doing is looking at a suitable logo for our new brand. We are using a company called 50dollarlogo, and we have found them to be a good option when a business has to be started on a shoestring. For around £30 they will design a logo following our directions and they will give us as many revisions as we want, which is a good thing, because in our attempt to appeal to youngsters, we managed to develop something that people felt looked like the Rocky Horror rather than a Christian celebration, so 50dollarlogo are now coming up with other options. For the price, it is a brilliant service! Here is a link to their website: http://www.50dollarlogo.com

We have also been looking for designers to create the t shirt designs and sourcing suppliers of  fairtrade organic t shirts, it is very important to us that our ethics are genuine right the way through. We also want to earmark 25% of profits to charity and this will be a genuine 25% of gross profits, we will pay to charity before we pay ourselves – following the truth of Christian principles.

I am delighted that one of my best friends, who also happens to be a Christian and a very accomplished artist with her own exhibitions, has taken a real liking to our project and, despite her being very busy, she has agreed to create some of the designs for our t shirts.

Our family business idea

Well, being snowed in allows for writing on one’s blog and it’s time to tell you a bit about the business we are starting up. We had the idea around the 1st January and the whole family are really excited about it. Richard, my husband, and I have been attending an Alpha course over the winter (like a ‘dummies’ introduction to Christianity) looking for that extra dimension to life which is so necessary for a truly fulfilling existence, and we were toying with ideas about how to create a celebration of christianity.

With two teenagers in the house we realised that it had to be something funky and hot, if it was to appeal to the youngsters, but at the same time we wanted it to contain a positive christian message…..

So what could we do, that would satisfy both criteria??

Here goes: We are starting a brand name design, creating clothes with a christian message – but at the same time funky and trendy enough to meet the demands of the younger generation. The first product line will be t-shirts with wisdom words found in the Bible, but created in a contemporary and funky style.

So, the business idea is born. Why not sign up for the email notifications to follow the development of this story, or check in regularly as we go through every step of building this business and share the ups and downs, victories and set-backs.

A new start!

My family

Nothing is more important than family

Happy New Year from the Gwynne family.

Okay, time flies – so I’ll have to get a pilot’s license!!

A couple of big setbacks include the disappearance of the FARMtastic community site from Ning – I just haven’t been able to access it for ages and it seems to have just vanished into thin air! So if you have been trying to access the community and been unsuccessful I am sorry, I have no idea why.

It’s a new year and seems a great time for a new start. I know they say that life isn’t a dress rehearsal, but I reckon we do have enough time to try a few things and if one doesn’t work out, hec, my view is; let’s then throw ourselves into the next act….

My life is truly blessed with a wonderful family and good health. The only thing that has eluded me so far has been the ability to create a consistent income alongside the farm. This fact, combined with my passionate desire to do something to help fellow women in the countryside has led me to the following new years resolution:

Using the strength of the family unit to start up a business from scratch and hopefully create a successful venture while sharing the experience of the process on this blog. If this can inspire and encourage a few FARMtastic Women out there to stretch the boundaries and reach their potential then it will be well worth it.

More details to follow….

Going with the flow

Having gone through this MSc study in entrepreneurship I know about the value of  goal setting and planning and directed focus to achieve what I want, but you know what? Sometimes I wonder if that is the real me after all? The latest events, where I have been thrown into trying to teach a big corporate Wind developer some manners – and believe me, that takes a lot of time and energy!! – have shown me how much fun and excitement you can have when you stop struggling and just follow where events take you.

I believe in renewable energy of all sorts – even when it involves big windfarm projects and large turbines because the planet needs a helping hand and even if the technology is not perfect, it will only get better if and when  it gets used and developed. I have to say though, that I do not believe in the methods employed by the corporate wind developers to manipulate landowners into agreements that do not observe even the basic courtesy and integrity. My poor husband is getting terribly distressed over the situation, so I am picking up the Viking helmet, sharpening the sword and looking forward to going into battle with a giant corporate!

Who said the Vikings were extinct?!!

Why would they need 3 1/2 acres to build one turbine??

Why would they need 3 1/2 acres to build one turbine??

The Unexpected!

I was all geared to spend the day working on the next course about Expectations in business.

Husband at work, kids in school and the contractor was out there spreading slurry.

I was expecting to finally get some serious work done on the ‘important’ stuff rather than the ‘urgent’. The heifers and the rented bull were out in the field near the house and the rest of the cows and calves were with our breeding bull right up at the top of the farm – so what was all the moo-ing and commotion I was hearing? I left the ‘important’ stuff to go and check, and my blood froze when I realised that the contractor had left the gate open and the main herd had come all the way down from the top. The two bulls about to come face to face…

Rushed out, got the dog and ran a quick as I could to try to get the cattle back up the track before they got to close, but the heifers had already seen the others and were jumping the fence trying to join the main herd. It was mayhem! My main concern was to keep the bulls apart and I managed to open a gate to another field shooing the cows and breeding bull in there and cutting off the rented bull and a couple of heifers. But they started to follow the fence running up the track towards what I knew was an open gate with access to the field where I had just isolated the breeding bull and his ladies.

I sprinted to the quadbike – it wouldn’t start! So jumped in the landrover and raced up the track trying to cut the rented bull off before he got to the open gate. Our wonderful Welsh sheepdog knew there was something wrong and ran next to the landrover ready to help where she could. By the time I got up there, the two bulls where in the same field and the rented one was challenging our own, no time to think so I drove the landrover in between them and jumped out, shooing the challenger away assisted by the dog. We managed to get him and a couple of cows into another field and shot the gate behind him. Phew, immediate danger over.

A couple of hours later I had the rented bull with one heifer safely locked away in a shed and the breeding bull with a few cows isolated in the top field well away from the farm. All the cows, calves and heifers in one happy mix in another field where they could jolly well wait until my husband came home to separate them. I looked at Gwen (the sheepdog), she looked at me and I thought ‘Girl Power!’ and was very proud of the two of us.

So why do I think rural women (and sheepdogs) are FARMtastic? Well, who else would be able to shift from being an office woman in front of the computer one minute and a cowgirl handling a couple of tons of challenging bulls the next?!!!

The Breeding Bull

The Breeding Bull

Niche Marketing

If you are a small business, niche marketing can allow you to succeed without having to compete with the big corporates.

Being a niche player involves four things:

1. Finding out what is ‘unique’ to the business. That means understanding what your customers really want when they buy the product or service and why they buy it from you rather than a competitor. Uniqueness can be product – or market-based.

2. Specialising in customers and/or products rather than methods of production. This is important when competing on price. You must understand your customer thoroughly and ensure that your product or service meets their needs in every way. Ongoing, thorough market research is essential when you specialise.

3. Stressing the inherent strengths of your company and the USP (unique selling point) of your product or service over its competitors, i.e. innovation, flexibility, personalised service etc. through targeted marketing efforts aimed at the niche market.

4. Emphasising in your marketing the non-price elements that differentiate you from the competition. Niche players should be able to charge a premium price and sustain a high profit margin, something that is clearly a very attractive option for smaller firms.

Click on the following link to enjoy an inspiring story about niche marketing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQMvoOVIR_s