Inspiration in the Farmers’ Market

Do you have a community of people supporting your passion in business?

Sometimes I meet owners who have lost the passion for their business. What once had them bouncing out of bed in the morning now has them hitting the snooze button and crawling back under the covers. “It’s just not fun anymore. How do I get the spark back?” they ask.

A new beginning

This past weekend I participated in the opening of the Larimer County Farmers’ Market. Some people were worried about customers not finding the market since this year it moved to the parking lot of the Larimer County Courthouse at Oak and Mason. However it turned out to be a great opening day with many merchants selling out before the closing whistle.

I know about this because I am an avid supporter of one of the vendors – Sara’s Veggies. “Grown naturally in my backyard” and “Bicycle-powered!” are her slogans, and I’m her supplier, banker, and informal gardening and business advisor. Sara gets to help in our family’s garden and earn plants and vegetables that she then bikes down to the market to sell. (Last year she got her bike trailer for some gourmet zucchini and heirloom tomatoes. Even with new innertubes and bearings it was a pretty good trade.)

Lessons learned

While she may only appreciate it years from now, at 11 Sara is learning some significant business lessons – a few of which include:

  • Getting help from your friends can be wonderful, and it can be pretty expensive. Sara thanked a friend who helped by buying her a beautiful hat that ended up costing all the profits for the day. “Hmmm…” frowned Sara upon tallying up the results.
  • If you get excited and spend all your gross proceeds, you might be hurting when the bank comes to collect the loan. “Now I know what bankruptcy is,” sighs Sara. Luckily she has a benevolent banker who cut her slack for a couple weeks. “It wasn’t fun to work for nothing, but now I don’t owe anything,” she reflected, smiling.
  • You have to get there first to get the best opportunities. Until the market went to its current allocation system, it was first-come-first-served. And it didn’t take long for Sara to figure out that getting up at 5am to get a shady spot was better than sleeping in and then broiling under the summer sun all morning.

As a parent, it’s sometimes tough to let Sara learn some lessons the hard way. Yet when I see the other vendors talking with her and encouraging her, and when I see the smile on her face when someone buys something she put hard work into, I know she’ll do just fine. 

Our farmers’ market is a wonderful, supportive community of buyers and sellers that love what they do. I feel very fortunate to get to do what I love in my business. While I know Sara probably won’t be part of the Larimer County Farmers’ Market forever, I do hope that she is able to find a vocation and a community that supports her equally well.

Actions you can take today

  1. Reflect on what originally inspired you to get into your business. Did you love the way people oohed and aahed over what you made? Did you want to build a better mousetrap? Did you want to create a workplace that you never had? Once you find the ash-covered ember of your passion, blow the ashes off and reignite that burning desire to get going again!
  2. Get connected with other people who share the love of what you do. A lot of business owners out there focus only on their prospective clients. Yet there are professional organizations from nearly every specialty you can imagine that exist to support business owners. Find people who have a passion that mirrors yours – and they’ll usually be happy to share lessons they learned to help a fellow enthusiast succeed.

Chris Hutchinson

About the Author:  Chris Hutchinson, President and CEO of Trebuchet Group, helps facilitate leadership growth and business success of local and global clients, using a collaborative approach to enable consistent, effective results. He can be reached at chris@trebuchetgroup.com

© 2008 Trebuchet Group