Lucy and Amy Bradley recently founded Little Farmers Club, offering farming “education and experiences” to youngsters.
Amy outlines eight learnings from their first few months.
1. Beat your inner doubt
Turning away from a comfortable 9-5 job was by no means an easy decision. We had years of “what ifs”, focusing on the risks rather than the opportunities of striking out on our own.
It wasn’t until the 2020 lockdown, when we couldn’t stand the thought of yet another Zoom quiz, that we decided to use our spare time to compile a plan that pre-empted every potential hurdle and reduced risk as much as possible. We knew we had to take the plunge at some point.
2. Don’t follow the flock
It’s all too easy to be distracted by what others are doing and to judge your own success against others’.
It’s important to stick to your vision, remind yourself of what makes your brand and products unique, and to set your own measures of success.
3. Build a community
We realised that, even beyond those who might be interested in buying our products, we could rally a whole community of people who would support our mission to “make farming accessible to every child in the UK”.
So remember it’s not solely customers who can help you spread awareness of what you’re doing. In our case, it was potentially any parent, grandparent, teacher, farmer, health professional, environmentalist or food supplier.
4. Make social simple
Social media can seem a daunting world dominated by a select few who accumulate gazillions of followers by posting pictures of their breakfast, but it can play a huge role in the early stages of building your brand and attracting sales.
On Instagram, we managed to accumulate 2,000 followers in our first two months.
We read articles and watched video tutorials on “how to beat the social media algorithms”, but ultimately decided to keep it simple.
We challenged ourselves to post at least five times a week and focus on making posts informative, entertaining, and useful for our followers.
5. Get stuck in
Start-ups require serious graft, there’s no escaping that. To raise funds, we worked Monday to Friday at our day jobs and evenings on our family farm, which just left weekends to work on our business plans.
It has been hard to maintain the level of commitment and even harder to kiss goodbye to many a social occasion but, ultimately, if you love what you do and are passionate about your product or service, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.
6. Identify your strengths
To work as a good team, everybody involved needs to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself about this. Then, once you’ve worked this out, you can decide your individual roles and responsibilities. I
tend to focus on marketing and brand building, while Lucy co-ordinates monthly activity boxes. This allows us to work independently, but also to make the most of our respective skills and experience.
Of course, working with family has its challenges, as many farmers know, but if you work as a team it’s also very satisfying.
7. Learn as you grow
When we set out, we hadn’t a clue how to build our own website and Microsoft Paint was about the extent of our graphic design skills.
By swapping our evening Netflix binges for YouTube tutorials, along with absorbing as much information as possible from friends and family, we’ve managed to develop our skills and reduce our spending.
It is important to look at other businesses and try to work out what they do well (and what they do badly). Don’t be afraid to ask people questions, too. Nearly everyone will have something useful to offer.
Launching a business brings worries, but it’s also a fascinating, fun journey – and hugely exciting to be in charge of your own destiny. So make sure you take a little time to celebrate your successes.
About Little Farmers Club
Having grown up on a vegetable farm in Kent, Lucy and Amy wanted to offer farming education and first-hand experiences to young people across the UK.
Throughout their teens and 20s, they offered fun workshops to schools up and down the country, then, in 2020, decided to take it a step further, launching Little Farmers Club.
The business inspires children from all backgrounds to discover their inner farmer and learn about the field-to-fork process through monthly, at-home activity boxes, school workshops, farm visits and more.
They educate children on topics such as food production, healthy living, sustainability, environment and diversity in ways that are easy to understand and fun.
Little Farmers Club boxes are designed around the farming calendar and include grow your own fruit and vegetable kits, a regular Meet the Farmer interview with a farmer, as well as other activities such as making your own woolly sheep magnet using real sheep wool.