Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in horticulture, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kate-Lynn Clark, the founder of En Fleurs, a flower farmer, in Brownsburg-Chatham, Quebec, Canada.
Tell us all about your business...
I grow peony roots, and dahlia tubers for gardeners to enjoy in their gardens.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a business owner?
I became a flower farmer by happenstance, my husband was transferred to the Montreal area, and I needed to find a job. A peony farm was looking for help and I decided to try that out. Instantly, I fell in love with small scale farming, and knew this was the right industry for me. Growing plants, being connected with the soil and environment is invigorating. A definite perk is delivering a huge bunch of flowers to customers and seeing the smile on their faces.
As an entrepreneur, what does success ultimately mean to you?
I ended up buying the collection of peonies from the peony farm that introduced me to small scale horticulture. I stepped away from root production to give cut flowers a try for several years. While I did enjoy the diversity of growing multiple types of plants, there is a certain simplicity in specializing. My goal was to use the cut flowers as a gateway to buying up root stock, as the investment is quite high, and to get a return takes several years. I accomplished this in three years instead of my original goal of 5. My next goal is to incorporate some work life balance, as that area could use some big improvements!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being an entrepreneur?
Work life balance. My business is very hands on. There are seasons that are extremely busy, with weather pressures that put timelines on tasks, and there is no life beyond En Fleurs in those moments. I had to work with bronchitis during peony bloom season this June. We went through major growth this year, and I didn't have all the systems, or hadn't thought the systems out that would make our workflow easier, and it was really just me running around like a crazy person trying to accomplish all these major tasks. Taking the time to problem solve, how to make tasks easier, is something I will have to learn to do.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
1) Just do it. If you want to do something, you need to just do it. Opportunities don't always come twice, and sometimes you just need to jump in.
2) Learn as you go. My last two years have been a whirlwind of activity, and I have made countless mistakes, even well thought out ideas can fail once tested, and the only way to know that is to learn as you go along.
3) Find your cheerleaders. It can be hard sometimes when you're by yourself, and an entire business depends on you. Find support, find people that will cheer you on.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Starting a business is messy, complicated, but very much worth it. I work for myself, I produce my own product, and I can take an immense amount of pride in that. I can chose how my business is a positive influence in my community. I can choose how we can be a positive influence on the environment. There's so much freedom in how you can steer your own business, and that's amazing!
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as an entrepreneur or business coach that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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