My name is Laurence and I live in a small town where there’s lots of local independent businesses. One business owner that I’ve come to know well is Pat, who I used to buy all our vegetables from.
A couple of years ago Pat told me she was worried because her supplier was closing its doors and this would affect her business. I knew her family depended on her income, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I started by asking all the local business owners about their suppliers and soon I had a list of farmers in our area. Then I asked my dad if I could phone the farmers to ask them if they’d be willing to teach me the skills needed to grow my own vegetables. My dad gave me a few pointers on how to approach the farmers. He told me to explain why I wanted their advice, that I was thinking of growing and selling my own vegetables in order to help Pat as well as my family. One helpful farmer took the time to teach me all about growing vegetables – he told me about why using the right soil is important, correct planting techniques, how to control pests and when to harvest. I started small and told Pat about my new venture and that I hoped it could grow so that I could maybe become her new supplier!
At first I only had a few vegetables to use for our family and sell to friends, but soon my garden began to flourish and word got around. This gave me the opportunity to start selling to small businesses, like Pat’s, so they could continue trading.
The great thing is that Pat has many years of business experience so she sat down and gave me advice on how to take care of my new business, including finances and stock. I hadn’t even thought of most of those things, so I was very grateful for her advice.
Today, I stock a few small businesses who then sell to the local people in our town, and we’re all benefitting from this new system.
So, if you have an idea – whether it’s big or small – just take that first step in asking someone for help or advice. If you’re feeling too scared or shy, try writing down your goal and how you think you can achieve it, then face up to your fears, take a deep breath and go for it! You might not strike gold with the first person you ask, but don’t give up. I never thought I’d learn so much from a farmer or from Pat, but I’ve learnt that you don’t have to look far to find a great mentor!