Fancyleaf was started 20 years ago by Bill and May Calder. It was to be a semi-retirement venture that would give us some free time and a bit of an income. We had some other income available so could afford to do this, unlike many others entering the game with no resources behind them, that find themselves “thrown off the horse at the first bump.”

We have spoken to many prospective growers over the years who have asked for advice based on our experience and below is pretty much a summary of what they are told. You need to have:

1.  Commitment.  You have to make a commitment to yourselves and your family that the business comes first, before that fishing trip or overseas holiday. This is the most fundamental error new growers make in our opinion, the knowledge can be gained from the right places, but if the commitment is not there you are wasting your time.

2.  Resources.  Forget the idea that I will put up a couple of tables and grow from there. This is a serious business where you can make serious money if the commitment is there. But of course that requires serious investment.

3.  Alternative income.   Don’t expect the cash to start flowing in the door in your first week. It won’t. It takes quite some time to develop the skills necessary to ensure production on a regular basis, which leads to regular cash flow. If one partner has alternative employment for instance, they should stay at it. You will need to eat during your growing period.

4.  Advice.  There is a wealth on knowledge out there now, compared with when we started. The tricky part is getting the right advice, which means talking to as many people as you can and selecting someone you feel comfortable with, that has done the yards, not just read about it in books. This will cost you mote initially, but make you much more money further down the track.

5.  Stubbornness.  A little bit of determination not to be beaten helps, the amount you need will be determined by the selection of who is helping you get started.

6.  Investment.   Decide your budget. How much do you have access to?  Budget everything very carefully. to arrive at a figure. Make sure you have access to 3 times that amount. Why? This is what happened to us. Again careful selection of an experienced person can negate this requirement.

During the last 20 years we have seen the industry grow quickly. Most of the spivs and charlatans are long gone, but there are still a few proffering totally unrealistic outcomes from x amount of investment. Be careful, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

We have grown our own business using commitment, hard work and by returning the profits to the business. Now our turnover is in excess of a million dollars and profits are high. We deal with Australia’s premier supermarket chain and over the last few years have see our share of their Brisbane Distribution Centre requirement for our product grow from 12% to 70%. We have done this by being prepared to be better, work harder, be innovative, invest more than our opposition.

We are pretty happy with what we have done. It can still be done by newcomers, but mind the points above.

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