Monday, July 23, 2012

Treating Each New Venture as a Small Business

My square foot garden update 2
A little while back, I wrote a post about my plans for my little garden.  Previously, I discussed how having a simple garden can be soothing and inspiring, and may even lend itself towards future inspirations.  Today, I want to give you an update on how everything is going, not to fill some space with garden talk, but to introduce another way of looking at the world.  That new way I want you to think about, is to treat your next endeavor as if it were a small business.

As you can see from the picture, my cherry tomatoes are overflowing with fruit and buckling at their own weight.  Luckily, I have some steal cages propping them up.  To set up the garden, I had to buy some lumber, soil additives, electrical gauge, seeds, wire cages, and a couple other 1 time purchases.  The total cost for the project came to about $250, most of which I won't have to spend again for awhile.  I've also established a compost box that I'm hoping will provide future nutrients towards next year's garden.

Now the fun part; time to list out what I've reaped from this little guy thus far.  I actually took a visit to my local grocery store to see how much these produce would be if I had to buy them.  I ignored the fact that my veggies are organic.  Total revenue thus far includes:

1.) Pole Beans: 58 = $3.98
2.) Baby Carrots (not the kind you get at the store, these are actually a heritage breed): = 18 = $0.90
3.) Cherry Tomatoes: 49 = $6.52
4.) Yellow Squash: 4 = $2.44

Total = $13.84

My wife and I also have an herb garden with the following harvest thus far:

1.) Cilantro: 2 bunches = $3.58
2.) Basil: 4 bunches = $7.96
3.) Sage: 4 bunches = $7.96
4.) Marjoram: 1 bunch = $1.99
5.) Oregano: 1 bunch = $1.99

Total = $23.48
Grand Total = $37.32 (I'm still in the red by $212.68)

I guess that's not too bad since it's early in the season.  I have a couple more prospects that might improve my earnings; 9 heirloom tomato plants in my back yard, 8 pepper plants that are coming along pretty slowly, about 20 scallions, and continued harvest from all the other items I mentioned.

I went through this exercise to show you what having a business mindset is all about.  Just like in a small business, I had a number of up-front costs which hopefully will be far less in the future.  On top of that, earnings take awhile before they make up the initial expenses.  Some small businesses take years before they can reap a profit.  I'm hoping to get about $100 worth of produce this year, and make up the remainder next year.  We'll see how this all plays out.

Here's some practical advice on your next project.  Calculate all the expenses that will go into it, and then list all the revenue or "benefit" sources.  You may never see some of these benefit dollars, but you should list them if say the improvement you are doing is preventing you from some other disaster.  Most importantly, treating projects like a business can make the project much more fun.  I now have a concrete goal with my garden, and this little exercise will keep everything in perspective.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Coming out to the garden each day and eating about 5 sun-ripened tomatoes each day.

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