Every time I write one of these business updates I promise myself that I won’t leave it so long before writing the next one, but without fail it goes longer and longer between updates. To be honest, this Spring we had a bit too much going on and time to do the extra bits just kept disappearing, but here goes four months worth of updates!
We are well and truly in to our second year of business and it feels like a long-term relationship now. The initial butterflies and fast-paced excitement has settled into a healthy rhythm and things feel like they are, for the most part, ticking along nicely. There have been a few changes in our world since last time:
With the upcoming season looming, me working full-time just wasn’t working. Rory now has a solid 3-4 days per week to do with the hives, then we have 1-3 markets per week and two children that we are trying to wrangle. So I quit my full-time job and got a new one as a relief teacher. I can’t say it’s enjoyable but it’s flexible and sometimes you just have to pay the bills. In good news though, Hunt and Gather has been doing really well with the markets and now that winter is over, the market situation is definitely starting to improve. We are finally at a point where the business is pretty much supporting itself from honey sales and we don’t have to prop it up with my wages so much. This is way exciting and a big relief as we were starting to feel some serious financial heat as we went further and further backwards for a while there.
One of the really interesting things that have happened since my last post is an interest in our business from investors. This has been a surprise, but a pleasant one and we will definitely take it as a good sign that people believe we will make some money one day. We have been contacted by a number of people, some that we know and some that we don’t about the possibility of investing in our company and it prompted us to really have a good hard look at whether we wanted to consider this as an option and if so, what kind of people we would want as investors. What we realised is that we have come so far and really we want to keep Hunt and Gather Bee Co as a 100% family business. After all, so far, we have faced 100% of the challenges.
What we have learned about taking on investors is to make sure that anyone you want to work with is 100% on board with what you’re doing. Let them know your vision for your company, your goals and your aspirations. If they aren’t completely onboard, they aren’t the right person. Unless you’re about to go bankrupt. Then anyone will do.
They really need to hold the same personal values as you too. We are not chasing the money here we are chasing the dream. It’s definitely still something that we are exploring but we are looking outside the box for an investment structure that will suit us.
In terms of beekeeping, we have had some ups and downs. Our hives came through winter really well with strong colonies and they seemed ready to go. When it came time for splits though, our queen rearers couldn’t deliver our queen cells until 2 weeks after they were meant to which threw out our mating season and has got our honey season off to a late start. The wet weather made the ground boggy and muddy and caused Rory to have a few close calls when trying to get in to some of his hive sites. Other than that though it's been mild and actually not too bad for bees. There have been challenges with managing the field workload being stretched in so many different directions but we are through the worst now and the bees are looking happy and healthy. Meteorologists are predicting a long hot summer so we are remaining optimistic about the upcoming season. At the end of the day the weather will do what it will and we will roll with it. Like anyone who works in the agriculture industry.
We are still loving it. We are at a tricky point where it isn’t big enough to actually support our family and it takes up a lot of our time. We are really looking forward to when it tips the scales and its our full time gig. But that is really the next goal. We are awaiting this year’s honey harvest with eager anticipation and if it’s good, I’ll have the green light to quit my part-time job. Fingers crossed.
A friend gave us some really good advice recently. He said that most businesses fail in their second year. We are about 4 months in to our second year and while failure certainly isn’t looming, I can really see how the shine of owning your business naturally wears off. He said in the first two years expect to go backwards. Like quite far backwards. In the first 5 years don’t expect to make a profit. Re-invest everything in your business and if you’re still going in 5 years you’ll be made. It feels doable friends. In fact I really look forward to the next 3 years.
A huge thank-you to everyone who has been supporting us in so many ways. We are loving having our regular customers at our markets and we are getting to know some of our regulars by name. We are also hugely grateful to our wonderful land owners who host our beehives for us and put up with Rory’s banter every time he comes to visit. You are helping us do something good for our family and we are truly grateful for that.