Maybe it's the wind, maybe it's the unseasonably warm temps, maybe it's all of the new baby seedlings bursting forth with new life in the greenhouse—I don't know, but I have to admit to some vaguely overwhelming small-business-owner anxiety this week.
What if no one wants to buy our produce? What if we can't grow enough? What if my assumptions are wrong and all of the new plans for this year fall flat? Eek!
I suppose this happens every year around now. Money is tight and expenses are high. I'm starting to emerge from the warm cocoon of winter vacation life. There is so much to do!! I have a ton of ideas that have been circling in my mind all winter, but now is the moment when they either have to be tabled for another year or I really need to buckle down and make them happen.
So, perhaps in an effort to exorcise these anxiety demons through the act of expression, here's a list of worries:
- Have I planned well enough for the vegetable production this year? I spent less time on the planning this year than I have in the past two. Largely that's because I already know what I want to do. We learned a lot last year—which was a lot more than the enormity that we learned the first year, and from those learnings I came out of this past season with a pretty clear vision of what I wanted to do with the vegetable production for 2017. So that should be good right? But what if I'm wrong????? What if I'm just giving myself the easy way out and really I should have somehow buckled down more and changed something more dramatically... It's really hard to keep hold of the faith and confidence I had last October coming fresh off a successful season in the face of a winter full of bills and an unknown new season ahead.
- Can I really make this flower business work? I've been circling around the goal of growing flowers for weddings, events, and florists since I started the farm. I love growing flowers and every year I get a little bit better at it. Now it's time to actually make some money off them. I believe there's a market for high quality, local cut flowers in this community, but what if I'm wrong? Or what if I can't grow them well enough? I had the good fortune of learning how to grow vegetables from some extraordinary farmers, but they weren't flower farmers. There's a whole skill set there that I'm just learning through trial and error—what if I can't do it? Also, I haven't even made time to finish the new web page for the flowers. I didn't get all of the right bulbs I wanted in time, and I haven't over-wintered all of the springs flowers I wanted. What if I'm too late??
- Should I be marketing more aggressively? We've been so lucky for the last two years—pretty much everything we've been able to grow we've been able to sell. But what if that changes? What if I've already cashed in on the low-hanging fruit of customers and this year we don't hit our financial goals? I am just now starting to advertise for the 2017 Farm Share season—I haven't wanted to push it before now because our winter product availability has been limited. But now, spring is right around the corner and I still have another 20 members to recruit in order to start the season full. Not to mention the Sweet Donkey farm stand... I know our Sweet Donkey Coffee shop market is a great opportunity to expand our business, but it's not going to build itself... I need to be out there drumming up enthusiasm. But, then again it is still February (no matter what the thermometer tells us) and we won't really begin selling in earnest until April. So... we still have time right??
Woof. I don't know if I feel better or worse having written that down...
So let's reflect, there seem to be two dominant themes: (1) I might be wrong about everything. (2) I'm running out of time.
What my sage advisors say to those two assumptions: (1) "relax everything's going to be fine. (2) You're doing great, you've done great, you have plenty of time." So... do I believe them??
Perhaps I should just put the pen down and focus on enjoying my nieces—what balm is there like the laughter of babies?