A big Happy New Year's to all of you!
To paraphrase Anne of Green Gables “Tomorrow is a new [year] with no mistakes in it... yet.”
Dan and I hope everyone stayed safe and rung in the new year with hope! 9 Years Ago In a Galaxy Far Far Away ... I spent new years in London England, last night we barely made it to midnight. We did manage to make it through Puss and Boots before our 11:45 bedtime but we just couldn't hold out to midnight. I even slept through most of the movie. The holidays were a bit more stressful than usual with mum in the hospital getting a pacemaker - but all is well now. She is rested at home, and remarks she has more energy than she has had in decades. Way to go bionic mummie!
New Year, New Goals!
I've never been good at new years resolutions mostly because it is always about getting in better shape, losing weight, eating more healthy. Which I need to do, but I have no will power. I love pastries, and dislike exercise. It's how it goes. But this year I do need to focus more on my health as I get older, and medical issues re-arise, and create better work-life boundaries.
Obviously there are lots of goals, personal and business, and sometimes they fall into grey areas as to which category they belong to, but Geek+Tea in 2020 will see several things. I am technically in the middle-end of year two of Geek+Tea, but having been in business since 2013 I am able to refine what is working and what isn't so it is time to look at the year in review and then look to the future!
Simplify and reduce the number of Geek+Tea blends, creating annual schedule of release for others
Currently, including all loose herbs such as rose petals, peppermint, chamomile, etc. the total number of teas or loose herbs is 101. It's like dalmations running all over the place! A bit too many for our current storage. Unless one of the goals is to build a huge barn with world-class dehydrators. Damn, I am all out of stores of latinum.
Move slow moving blends into seasonal rotation
Discontinue very low sellers / no sellers.
Any new blends will be tested on Patreons first (insert evil laugh here muahahahaha!)
So this may mean some of your favourite blends may only be available in spring or autumn, or they may disappear ... forever Oh my! We are in for an adventure!
Build a simple hoop house in the backyard to reduce spring transplant costs
Extends growing season by 4-6 weeks on either side of the frost dates
Reduces transplant shock thus less loss in spring
Able to sow exact plants required for crop needs
Able to increase the number of crops started
Grow seedlings and sell to local interested parties
3. Expand the One Acre Garden
Increase crops which are in high demand - chamomile, peppermints, rose petals, etc.
Be more efficient in growing with 2019 investment in rototiller
Hoop house can help with reducing costs by propagating instead of purchasing
Increase crops for market gardening (heirloom vegetables) as secondary income
Better positioned to sell herbs to naturopaths as variety can grow
Obvious I know, but I need to get better at this! In November I hired a bookkeeper to assist with this, so far so good.
Apply for small business grants to expand the business. In order to do this, I have to show 3 years of growth and very clean finances.
5. Events / Shows
Map out annual schedule of events to no more than 2 events per month.
2019 was a very busy year for Geek+Tea. It was amazing! I got to meet all of you, and I love meeting new customers and being the booth where people just hang out to drink tea and chat - sometimes for hours! But man was it exhausting.
Every Saturday I had a contract with OFFM to teach children's gardening. This has been renewed for 2020 however driving from Hamilton to Orillia every Friday, or Saturday morning was not great for gas / 407 charges, and piled on the exhaustion. I will change this to every other week, with the exception of mid-August as we will return to FanExpo.
Many shows we will be returning to, to establish a spring / autumn schedule
Other shows for which the margin for profit was very low, or did not show any profit we will not return or I will have to look at very closely on how to really reduce costs. Electricity and airbnbs being the big culprets, and being stuck in the vendor area vs. artist alley (difference is usually a 200-300$ and makes and breaks show).
Social media is hella important. So many people come up to me at events saying they saw something on Instagram / Facebook wanting to see what we have / what are we about. Most people at FanExpo only found me because of the obscure directions I sent online. I didn't realize it until this year just how important it is to a small business!
Social media is also very time consuming.
I need to investigate how to make this easier, possibly out-sourcing to a social media manager.
7. Education / Outreach
I love plants. More so I love collecting seeds. It must be the botanist in me, always needing to collect more and more, then carefully placing them in piles around the house and growing more and more. It's a curse really.
Focus more on education and outreach events booking no more than 3 in one year. Currently I have 1 educational session and 1 tea tasting booked.
I am going to try and schedule one tea tasting / drop-in at Waypoint Games every other month as we can be found at OFFM the first Saturday of each month.
8. Business Plan
Rewrite the business plan.
Technically Geek+Tea is in mid-year 2, but I have been business since 2013 (as Cottage Botanicals which was retired in June 2019 due to insufficient growth) and unofficially since 2008. The last update was in 2015, so it is time to redo the whole plan since goals are now different.
The end goal is, in two years, to move out of renting in Hamilton to our own (larger) house where the garden / farm gate sales are in one place. That becomes G+T HQ and from there we travel out and back. This will eliminate the tripping over cats and the living room that is more of a storage unit than a place to relax. We love our little country estate, we have just outgrown it. A one bedroom bungalow is too small for us, running a small business and working from home for a non-profit.
In order to apply for the small business grants I mentioned above I will need to have a recent updated business plan.
Another obvious, increase revenue and decrease costs!
Shipping (buying in products) is costly and one of the bleeds in the business but I am unable to reduce this only marginally due to our storage restraints. I can pinpoint stock ordering points by reviewing all purchases over the year so this week is spreadsheet week!
Shows - unprofitable shows are another, I will only return to shows that were profitable.
Hard goods - these don't really sell. So everything will be listed at cost + 5% to clear them out. Look for sales!!
Seeds - one last go this spring at a few local Seedy Saturdays, and selling on Etsy as part of our geeky gardening. If it is not profitable, then it will be discontinued and used for market gardening.
Well, I have literally been working on this for the past 6 hours, also watching The Expanse on Amazon Prime so efficiency is roughly about 50% - this show is so gripping!
I would love to hear other people's thoughts are, do you have any goals for 2020? Do you have some favourite G+T blends you cannot live without? Comment below!
Happy New Year!
Aly and Dan