Confidence and Constancy
One of the most common questions that I receive from people who are interested in starting their own business is, “what does it take to succeed?” Over the years I have boiled my answer down to these two core characteristics: Confidence and Constancy.
Our visit with Carol Coulter of Heritage Homestead in Ashe County reinforced the importance of possessing these two traits. Many people who take our classes come in with a similar dream to the one that she and her husband Lon possessed: To live in deep relationship with their land and earn their livelihood from what they produce on it (and savor Sunday mornings in the hand-built sauna). However, what these aspiring farmers are often not prepared for are the wilderness moments when you have to take leaps of faith and be confident in your own decision-making capabilities because nobody else’s farm looks-feels-tastes just like yours. And, you have to show up to milk the goats every single day.
It takes great confidence to launch a daydream, vision, or concept into tangible form, essentially to get the seed planted. And then the laborious watering begins. And this is where the entrepreneurial endurance muscles get tested. Yes, you can hire someone else to come water the seeds or milk the goats, but you must maintain confidence in your business model and engage in on-site business planning to make the numbers work. Carol shared with us from her experience that they made a conscious decision to keep their farm small scale. In her experience, she sees local farmers achieving success when they choose to really focus their efforts on a niche market or ramp up to large scale, it is the mid-scale farm that she sees to struggle the most. They have chosen the path of the former as it is in line with their own personal definitions of success.
Carol shares these insights with participants in the Birds Eye Business Planning Course offered through Ascent Business Network based in Boone, NC for which she is a facilitator. She also serves as Executive Director of Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture. Thank you Carol for taking the time out of one of your busiest prep days of the year to be with us.