4 February 2013

On Getting Things Done Fast

I’m constantly fascinated with the way simple day-to-day events can highlight significant life principles. (And the way we use our time to create an income is, to most of us, a principle worth close inspection.)

We were at the Farmers’ Market at Pukekohe one Sunday when my husband’s eye was caught by a young man selling meat out of the back of a refrigeratored trailer. Nothing out of the ordinary in that, you might think. But in fact it was anything but ordinary.

Jamie Lyons of Te Kainga, Mangatawhiri majored in agri-business at Lincoln College a few years ago. One of the topics they often discussed on the course was value-adding – how to make regular farm products reap higher rewards. So, when late in 2005 the farming community in Franklin District just south of Auckland decided to start a Farmers Market, it’s not surprising that Jamie pricked up his ears.

During a two-year working holiday in England before he came back to take over the family sheep and beef farm, he’d noticed two concepts that gave birth to the stand we saw in Pukekohe.

  • Many farms have farm shops where farmers sell produce from their gate.
  • The popularity of the Vegetable Box scheme, where customers get a regular box of seasonal vegetables without having to make each choice of product every time they buy. It saves time for the customer and grower, and makes good money for the grower.

So when the Franklin country people started talking about a Farmers Market, Jamie came up with the idea of a home kill version of the Vegetable Box – a selection of locally-grown lamb and beef, produced under partial organic and homeopathic conditions, carefully butchered to minimise fat and unnecessary bone, and provided in a choice of two box sizes. In the three weeks since the Market started he’d already developed repeat customers – people who not only like the convenience, the flavour and the quality, but also enjoy the personal touch – the chance to meet the farmer and know where their food has come from.

So what time management applications pop up here?

The power of networking to save time

How did Jamie get everything done in such a short time? It usually takes many months to pull together permits, licenses, branding, marketing information, cards and flyers, packaging, the website and all the other thousands of tasks for launching a new business.

‘I tapped into the local community and old friends,’ he said. ‘By coming through the side door it sped up the process of development.’

I would add one further element – next time you’ve got a project to kickstart, go to the most successful person you know in the relevant field and ask them for recommendations for suppliers rather than just using the first one that comes along. It could save weeks of time and thousands of dollars.

Support those who support you

The woman who designed his labels was so impressed with the product that she bought meat packs for all her staff for Christmas and is now showing his labels to her other customers, some of whom have also become Jamie’s customers.

That’s time-saving marketing!

The power of an open mind

Lateral thinking can jumpstart us from traditional enterprises into potentially more profitable operations. Some of the greatest agricultural success stories are about people who created clever value-add sidelines to their core farming business. In many cases those sidelines have became the major business. Of course the old way of doing things has its place, but it’s very important to always keep an open mind. Here is a young man who observed farmers and market gardeners on the other side of the world, linked two diverse activities and created a third – instead of Vegetable Boxes he’s created Home Kill Boxes. It’s early days for Jamie, but this kind of thinking and time-saving efficiency is what makes New Zealand agriculture so exciting.





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