owning our own businesses

My current thoughts on business ownership.


While owning your own business does sound quite glamorous, it is not all its cracked up to be. Sure, from the outside looking in, it appears that we have it made. We work outside, among the plants, watering, and laughing, and then we get the winters off to lounge, vacation, and put our feet up. 

I wish. 

This business is hard work. it has proven to be even more challenging throwing a baby into the mix of our family (I wouldn't trade it for the world though!) 

While we do get winters "off" from having open store hours, we are still working in the off season. Ordering, networking, lining up jobs. 

It does, however, have its perks. We get to make our own hours, and essentially are in control of our days. Dave and I both have the same goals. We want to do whatever we can so that we can spend as much time as a family. I don't want to work for someone else all week long while Holtan is at day care only to feel even more exhausted than I do now. I feel both fortunate for the opportunity to be with him daily, but also proud that we have made the choices and put ourselves in a position that makes that possible for our family. 

We work every weekend. We work into the evenings. We sometimes work into the night. 

It's what we have to do to live the life we want. 

And man oh man, is the uncertainty of seasonal, retail income, oh so very scary. But you never get anywhere in life without taking some risks, following your heart, and trusting that it will lead you in the right direction. 



We braved the single digits this morning and ventured up to Stacyville for an auction. It was not the most productive trip, but I do feel that everything we do is a learning experience. I learned 3 things this morning:

1. Stacyville is longer away than I thought.

2. We are not quite ready to consider bidding on a greenhouse. The 3 greenhouses that were for sale were big, and looked complicated to put together. We would love to have a greenhouse, but I'm not sure that will happen this spring. We have a lot of other stuff to learn, and I think realistically, we won't have time to commit to it. We hope to have one in the very near future though.

3. I NEED a pair of carhart bibs and a jacket to match. And STAT.


Week 5

IMG_3366It's week 5.  We are halfway through our business class!  Where has the time gone?Every week seems to spark more conversation.  This week we talked about "business entity."  A lawyer from Clear Lake presented on the legal aspect of owning a business.  We learned what it means to be an LLC.  Natural Plus is an LLC, which means limited liability company.  I won't get into the boring details of what this means (because I'm not an expert yet), but I feel like I have a better understanding.  We plan to meet with a lawyer to discuss the legal details of the "succession."Market research was another topic of conversation. What will set us apart from our competitors? Will it be our prices? Our great customer service? The fact that we are a long standing local business?  If we cut back the landscaping, what type of customers are we targeting to bring into the nursery?  We have toyed with the idea of starting a greenhouse for herbs, possibly  starter vegetables.  Will we be able to make things grow?  I have dreams of linking our customers with local vegetables, meats, and eggs. I have talked with someone about a coop in the area.  My dreams are big and they seem to keep getting bigger.Our goal for the next few weeks are to finish the book for the class, meet individually with one of the guys from the Pappajohn Center at NIACC, and start developing our business plan (which will most likely involve sitting down with Dave's parents again).  I plan to do some research on local competitors, learn more about Quickbooks, and spend a little time out at the nursery learning the lay of the land from Mike, their long time nursery employee.  So much to learn!

Round 2

Last night was the 2nd week of our Master Gardener class. It was definitely more interesting than the first week, but still was hard to sit through 3 hours of lecture.  The topics of discussion were plant pathology  (the study of plant diseases) and entomology (the study of bugs).  The second presenter had a great sense of humor which kept the class more lively, but by 9:00, I was really struggling to stay focused on the material.

October 19 we will be going to the Iowa State campus for a day of classes.  I am looking forward to more hands on learning.

3 things I learned last night:

1. centipedes are not related to spiders are not related to millipedes are not related to insects.  they are all their own classes.

2. you should not use potting soil from year to year because it may develop some bacteria that could infect your plants.  you can heat the soil for a half hour in the oven to kill the bacteria.

3.  there are 2 groups of pathogens: abiotic and biotic.  biotic are living things such as bacteria, viruses, etc and abiotic are non living things that may destroy plants such as too much or too little moisture, wind, weather conditions, etc.

I do think this class is valuable.  I am looking forward to doing the community service to get more involved in the "green" part of our communities.