The Story of Green Meadows Beef, and the Success of their Paddock to Plate Business Model

Interview with
Nick Carey
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The Story of Green Meadows Beef, and the Success of their Paddock to Plate Business Model

Green Meadows Beef is an unique family business providing grass feed beef direct to the consumer. This is the story how the Carey family have built their business of providing raw materials to the end user and the way they have used social media to take it to market

Today’s guest is Nick Carey, Director and General Manager of Green Meadows Beef based in Taranaki. Green Meadows Beef is a unique family business who have built their business primarily using online and social media platforms. The business has experienced tremendous growth over the last five years. Craig and Nick talk about what started as an offbeat idea that has become big business for his family.

In 2012, his family decided they wanted to add value to their products. This propelled them to launch a paddock to plate system. This involved shipping products from their farm through their own processing and distribution channels. Their direct-to-market through online sales has formed a big growth part of their business.

Nick’s father, suggested for them to try and market their beef product directly to the consumer. They sat together as a family and formed a new way to get their products to the market, and soon, they recognized the opportunity of selling online. This propelled them to launch a paddock to plate system. This involved shipping products from their farm through their own processing and distribution channels. Their direct-to-market through online sales has formed a big growth part of their business.

Nick started his career as a commercial lawyer in Wellington and New Plymouth His role in this new family business was in the development, branding, and logistics. Soon enough this was taking most of his time and he eventually decided he needed to quit his job as a lawyer.

That was a leap of faith for Nick, who has had to adjust to being an entrepreneur. There were four key problems Green Meadows Beef was solving for the consumer. These were

(1) Time saving

(2) Ease of purchase

(3) Quality assurance,

(4) Provenance.

Nick and Craig also talk about how wildly successful My Food Bag has become. It is a website that allows it’s customers to order a food bag for a varied number of people. It is also customized for them in terms of the number of people and their diet. My Food Bag has revolutionized the industry. Countdown eventually came up with a similar concept of online selling. There was a big shift in the market of people being more open to purchasing food products online. That assured Green Meadows Beef of its market.

In terms of marketing research, they were lucky that Green Meadows Beef was nimble enough to adapt their offering as well. This included having to tweak their operations on the way. They started out selling bulk-frozen packs and delivering them through chilled or frozen trucks. However, it has now evolved to a point where they can customize their own products and deliver them the next day, chilled, through a courier.

Nick’s journey has not been without challenges. One day, his company’s freight company informed him that they were no longer going to deliver Nick’s frozen meat packs. As a result, he was forced to change his business model, which led to better results because they are now selling fresh produce instead of frozen produce.

Another challenge Nick has had to face was the price of raw materials. Over the last three to four years, the price of raw materials has almost doubled. At the same time. One of the things that has raised the price of the raw product is the price that it can otherwise be sold elsewhere. Export of demand has been high.

They now run their farm as a separate business from their meat processing. Each company has different governance, advisers, and processes. Ensuring that the two businesses were independent of each other will help with succession planning and will force each one to be profitable on its own. . However, with the easing off of demand in the United States, the farm gate prices have been affected.

Nick learned to focus on the role of governance and the value of the right independent advice. Another crucial area that Nick has focused on is being able to get accurate and timely business information, dealing with changes in technology and how scalable that is, and finally, achieving a profitable core business before evolving into other paths.

Another thing that Nick has focused on is learning how to work with his people. Getting the right staff onboard has been a good learning experience for him. He makes sure his employees have clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines so that he could focus on working on the business and growing it. Nick has been able to retain his staff for 4 years now. He hardly needed to do cold hires because he utilized the benefits of his networks.

As for online selling, Nick uses mostly social media such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with people and to build an audience. They do mostly paid advertising now. He initially did everything in-house but has started outsourcing it already using a marketing consultant who works remotely for them.

In terms of content, Nick suggests that you keep it personal, relevant, and fun to keep his customers engaged. With competition sprouting up more, there is a need to ensure that you get heard. Nick’s friend once said that content is king but engagement is queen and she rules the house. You need to be able to engage your followers.

Currently, they are on Pinterest and Instagram but it has been a challenge to maintain everything. They use third party tools to help with the marketing side. They also use cloud based systems that help cut costs and get things done.

What Nick enjoys about being in business is building something from the ground up, seeing the evolution of that business, and having a chance to enjoy its success.

As a lawyer, Nick had a structured and disciplined career. At the moment, he says he has very little structure in his life now. Working with creative types, for example, causes him to work longer hours and deadlines extended. He deals with it by communicating well with his people. He says that if you spend a good portion of your day through communicating, it makes the day go so much better.

This goes back to having structures in place so the rest of the team can function harmoniously while you’re communication with them.

Nick’s challenge working with his family is ensuring that there is regular communication in terms of what’s happening in the business as well as asking for feedback. He suggests that there has to be a clear distinction of business and family time. It is important that everyone gets their chance to have a say but at the end of it, they are able to sit down and have dinner together.

In terms of having external professionals and mentors for his business, Nick says that one of the critical things is finding the right independent advice. His solution has been to persevere until you find exactly what you need at a particular time. As your business continues to change, so does the levels of advise. Nick has found that having an independent director has helped him fill the skills gap. Engaging the services of experts can be beneficial to his business as well.

Nick does not dwell on the past. His company has a year end review where they identify what worked and what didn’t so that in the future, they can learn from these experiences. Nick says that in hindsight, he would have focused on margin analysis in his business and having a better handle on his cash flow and budget. This has become one of their strengths and has allowed them to diversify the business for a more consistent cash inflow.

Being content in terms of business and the industry that you’re in is a mistake that business owners make. As an example, the evolution of online selling has had an effect on traditional purchasing. Nick suggests that you need to stay on top of things and not rest on your laurels because you don’t know what’s around the corner.

Strengthen your core business and ensure that it is profitable and sustainable before you venture out into other business opportunities. At the moment, there is a need to develop relationships with consumers because people want to know where there food comes from, how it’s produced, and what’s going on.

Visit www.GreenMeadowsBeef.co.nz for more information.

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TRANSCRIPT

 

NICK CAREY EPISODE

 

Craig: Hi guys!  Craig here from The Project Guys. Today in our podcast, really happy to introduce Nick Carey.  Nick is a Director and General Manager of Green Meadows Beef based here in Taranaki.  Green Meadows Beef is a unique family business who built the business primarily using online and social media platforms.  They specialise in suppling New Zealand consumers’ grass fed premium beef, where you online, and delivered to your door in twenty four hours.  And their business has experienced tremendous growth over the last five years.  What started as an offbeat idea and working from home office is now having their own dedicated butchery and retail premises and offices.  So, welcome Nick.

 

Nick: Thanks Craig.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell a little bit about our story. 

 

Craig: No drama at all! . Tell us a little bit about your background and why you decided to go into business.

 

Nick: Well, my background was as a commercial lawyer for a few years both in Wellington and New Plymouth.  We as a family, I guess, back in 2012, decided that we wanted to add value to the products we were producing which was mainly meat or beef and as a way to, I guess, cement the family farm and those plans through a formal succession plan, we decided to launch an integrated pallet to plate business which is shipping products from our farm through our own channels and processing channels, as Craig mentioned, direct consumers New Zealand wide through the different channels we utilise it at supermarkets, restaurants, and caterers and of course, direct-to-market through online sales, which is our biggest growth part of the business.

 

Craig: So, you’ve mentioned that you were a lawyer and then from a lawyer to an entrepreneur, it’s not a traditional path, was it your idea to do businesses with family?  How did it all sort of evolve?

 

Nick: Yeah.  Evolve is probably the right thing to say.  It was my father’s idea to try and market the products.  Obviously, we soon recognised online was a much easier path than let’s say the traditional paths of standing at farmer’s markets or carport sales or whatever it may be where other people are maybe trying to sell similar products.  So it’s at that time, all of us, I’ve got two siblings.   We all became involved to help form a plan to get the products to market and I helped here on the side with development and branding and things and arranging all of that and then once we launched the business, it became pretty evident that I wouldn’t be able to continue in my day job and helping out with the business.  So it was about, I guess, 3 months in that I gave up…

 

Craig: Oh, that quick! Yeah.  Yeah.

 

Nick: Yeah.  Yeah.…full-time paid employment to jump into the business.

 

Craig: To be poor for a couple of years. 

 

Nick: Yes!  Yes! 

 

Craig: [laughs]

 

Nick: Forever. 

 

Craig: Forever.  [laughs] Yes!  Yes!  So, when you started, obviously, it was just quite a bit different and there’s a new concept.  Get away from the farmer’s markets or selling to a wholesaler, direct….did you guys do any market research and that actually work out where you had a legitimate market and business…

 

Nick: Uhm…

 

Craig: And what are the problems you’re solving which are and I suppose were time saving and ease for the purchaser, wasn’t it?

 

Nick: That and also quality and provenance.  So those are I guess the 4 key messages or key problems we’re solving for the consumer.

 

Craig: Yeah.  Yeah.

 

Nick: In New Zealand, at that time, there was a limited range of producers doing what we were doing.  Certainly that landscape has changed now and more and more are coming on board to be…whether it’s in meat or other ___ farm products or whatever.  The launch of things like MyFoodBag and you know and the whole…

 

Craig: Which is wildly successful.

 

Nick: Exactly.

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: And a great example of success in this market.

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: So I guess in…when the business was in its infancy, there was only a couple of competitors in New Zealand.  I don’t even think Countdown had really launched their…

 

Craig: Right.

 

Nick: Online sales at that time so obviously, we’ve noticed a big shift in the market and people being far more open to purchasing food products online.  So, with our research, it was really based on looking at producers in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, seeing what they were doing, what offerings they had.

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: And obviously, because we…we were selling online, just online only at the start, it did allow us some chance to scale as time went on so there was no pressure of having products ready to go with no markets.

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: So I guess, we…we are currently on to building website number three.

 

Craig: Right.

 

Nick: So there has been multiple chances to refine the offering based on our own learnings…

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: Rather than…than doing too much…

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: market research at the beginning, I guess, which  potentially a pitfall…

 

Craig: Yeah.  But…

 

Nick: that were fallen into but we’ve been lucky that we’ve been nimble enough to be able to adapt that offering to…

 

Craig: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…

 

Nick: to see that…what does that mean?

 

Craig: Yeah.  Oh, it’s a case sometimes of getting that ___ to market and then work out having to… and having to tweak everything on the way, isn’t it…

 

Nick: Exactly.  We’ve started out in our industry selling bulk frozen packs and delivering it via the chilled or frozen trucks…

 

Craig: Yes.

 

Nick: all over the country where it could take anything from a week to two weeks.

 

Craig: Right.

 

Nick: To be delivered to the model that we have now and it’s evolving as you can customise and pick and choose your own products…

 

Craig: Yeah…

 

Nick: …and it’s delivered the next day, chilled via courier, so…

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: You know, there’s different challenges that come at you and one of that for example was the freight company telling us, “No, we’re no longer gonna deliver your frozen meat packs.”  So…

 

Craig: Oh, is that right?

 

Nick: So your business if often forced to change…

 

Craig: Yes.

 

Nick: …which can obviously lead to better results…

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: …because the consumer appreciates…

 

Craig: Yeah…

 

Nick: fresh produce versus…

 

Craig: Yeah…

 

Nick: frozen produce. 

 

Craig: So there.  So tell us a bit more about the challenges and the learnings you had in those early years and maybe also the challenges you’re facing now and how that evolved?

 

Nick: Definitely.  I guess the critical challenge for us been the price of our raw materials.

 

Craig: Alright.

 

Nick: Just to put them in a little bit of context and background, we run the farm as a totally separate business from the meat processing…

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: Different governance, different advisers, everything and we thought that was a critical distinction from a…

 

Craig: Uhm…

 

Nick: …a governance point of view particularly in the family situation so that we had two separate business which were hopefully, hopefully independent of each other, both supporting…

 

Craig: Uhm…

 

Nick: …themselves.  So…

 

Craig: Also that.  I guess it also helps with succession planning too.  Exit strategy is one [incomprehensible]…

 

Nick: Exactly.  And obviously that’s what we’re focusing…

 

Craig: Uhm…

 

Nick: The meat processing business now is taking on a life of its own with contract manufacturing…

 

Craig: Yeah…

 

Nick: …and things like that so…obviously anytime, I mentioned it at the start that the farm is very much part of the succession plan but if there were something that caused the farm to go, well, we’ve got another business…

 

Craig: Yeah…

 

Nick: And vice versa, we could always onsell the meat processing side of things.

 

Craig: Uhm…uhm…uhm…

 

Nick: …and keep the farm…

 

Craig: That’s right.

 

Nick: But so…part of it is that the farm must obviously make a profit…

 

Craig: Yes…

 

Nick: So we have to purchase the animals that we’re using through the Green Meadows Business from the farm at the prevailing market rate…

 

Craig: Yes…

 

Nick: Over the last three to four years, that price of raw materials has almost doubled…

 

Craig: Oh sh….

 

Nick: Without a corresponding rise in meat prices at the consumer end…

 

Craig: Yeah…

 

Nick: There’s still a certain barrier at the consumer end as to what a sausage or whatever may cost so I guess that’s been the critical challenge that we’ve face and we’ve had to really adapt and change our product offering.  So…

 

Craig: So what’s driven the price of the raw product up?  Is it the price on the farm to produce that product?

 

Nick: No, it’s the price that it can otherwise be sold elsewhere...

 

Craig: Oh, okay.

 

Nick: So, export demand, primarily out of the U_S where ground beef, easier ground beef is exported…

 

Craig: Okay…

 

Nick: …to the U_S and it’s been in quite high demand in particularly out of China as well…

 

Craig: Right.

 

Nick: So, depending on what’s happening in those markets, I’m assuming we’re seeing an easing off in the United States at the moment on demand which, of course, is then having a…

 

Craig: Yeah…

 

Nick: …a correlation back to farm gate prices here.

 

Craig: Cool…

 

Nick: So I guess with that challenge, we learned quite a lot and kind of like it’s focused a lot on what’s happened in the business so there are a couple of points off the top of my head…

 

Craig: Yes…Yeah…

 

Nick: I guess the role of governance and the value of the right independent advice has been a critical things that we’ve taken from it, I guess the information we’re pulling out of the business in terms or accurate and timely…

 

Craig: Yup…

 

Nick: …business information, technology and how scalable that is, what machines can really make our day better…

 

Craig: Right.

 

Nick: Versus culling out some of those manual processes, cause obviously, bearing in mind making food can sometimes be a relatively manual process…

 

Craig: Yup!  Yeah…

 

Nick: And then it all comes back to achieving a profitable core business before evolving into other paths.  So, we’ve really focused over the last year or two on what is our core business, how to make it profitable before launching into some other opportunities as well. 

 

Craig: So how do you take yourself out of the business to work on the business around those things you just…

 

Nick: Yeah, well, as the businesses continue to grow, we’ve been able to put staff into roles that I was otherwise doing, so for example, we’ve just taken on an operations manager who is handling most of the day-to-day production and supply side of the business whereas I’m just handling the demand side and obviously everything else.  So the finances and working on the business so, I guess that’s been a good learning is getting the right staff on board, making sure that they have clearly defined roles and responsibilities and reporting lines so that that then frees you up to do as you say, “working on the business,” and growing it.  So we have that clearly…clear definition of okay, operations manager was gonna focus on the supply side and production, I was gonna handle the demand, so that’s where my focus is now…is on the demand side and when you’ve got the right people and the right positions, everything is fine and it works well. 

 

Craig: So, you’ve gotta run on a fierce podcast business and about staffing.  How’d you go and find the right staffing?  How’d you know?  Do you know?  [laughs]

 

Nick: I guess, that’s a good question, “Do you know?”

 

Craig: Cause that’s critical, isn’t it?

 

Nick: It is and we are fortunate that in nearly 4 years, we’ve retained all our staff which I guess, obviously speaks of our environment also.  The direction that we’re pushing the company.  It…it’s…I guess it comes down to clear jobs…just clear job descriptions when you’re going so you know exactly who you’re looking for so when you find them, you know, they tick all the boxes and utilising the benefit of networks because all of our staff have been knowing to….

 

Craig: Someone…someone…

 

Nick: Yeah. 

 

Craig: Someone who knows somebody…Yeah…

 

Nick: Exactly, so now I’m doing that thing with cold hires but I can see that the next thing we’re already looking for our next staff member, which is scary…

 

Craig: Yeah…

 

Nick: But I can see that that will be a cold…a cold hire so I guess that will come down to getting clear…clear pre-employment checks and questions and also making sure they’re the right fit for the…

 

Craig: thing…

 

Nick: Exactly.

 

Craig: Cool.  Awesome.  So, you have used a lot of online tools and platforms that you’ve touched on before to build the business to where it is.  Tell us about the strategy and has that changed over the years and if so, how or….yeah…

 

Nick: Yeah…It’s a different __part obviously with online selling.  You wanna connect with customers in real time and I guess social media in particular is great for that.  We’ve primarily used Facebook and Twitter for the connecting with people and building an audience at the beginning.  I guess how that’s changed is we’ve now moved from just connecting with customers and building that brand and that relationship through the more paid advertising now.  So we do a lot of online marketing in terms of ECO and pre marketing and also direct marketing through the likes of Facebook.  So, I guess it’s building a network and a platform, which would then turn into an opportunity to market, so…

 

Craig: Did you do all that in-house, or do you outsource it?

 

Nick: We did start all that in-house but now I’ve outsourced it.  We have a marketing consultant who works remotely for us, who handles all that ECO and ECM marketing.

 

Craig: And what about all your Facebook engagement?  Cause I know when you first start your business, you’re massive on engaging with your audience, you do a lot of that at the start.  Is that still done in-house?  Or…

 

Nick: It’s still done in-house and obviously that’s been one of the challenges I found is that I handle that role as the businesses grow, keep it…personal, and keep it relevant and keep it fun which is how we engage with our customers and perhaps that’s something I could be doing better. 

 

Craig: [incomprehensible]

 

Nick: I think as we came and set the so high with using that as a focus, it’s kind of…you can easily fall by the way, so…

 

Craig: That’s so much of a big challenge, isn’t it because that’s how you built the brand and showing you some of the loyalty stats.

 

Nick: And I’m definitely seeing that with other influences that I follow that they came out with a good solid two years of social media engagement and then now it’s sort of dropped back…

 

Craig: Yes…

 

Nick: And I don’t know whether that’s just the maturing of the market and there are a lot of these platforms now and monetising, they’re successors, so it now makes it difficult to instigate…seen whereas in the beginning it was relatively easy but I think you raise a good point about engagement because a lot of the focus on social media a few years ago was all about content and posting the right sort of content but now, I know a person who writes and used to podcast a lot of Facebook.  She said that content is king but engagement is queen and she rules the house.

 

Craig: Yes…

 

Nick: And it’s sort of something that’s always always stuck with me because you can have great content but if you’re not getting anything back from the people you’re publishing it to, what’s the point?

 

Craig: Yeah, you could have 100,000 followers but if you’re not engaging them, what’s the point?

 

Nick: Yes.  So I think, you know, that’s a key thing to keep it at the back of your mind because it’s not a question of numbers because it’s like you said, it’s how they’re engaging. 

 

Craig: You said when you sell your products you use Facebook and Twitter, yet have you tried the other platforms at all?

 

Nick: We do have a little bit on Pinterest, obviously we’re in a food business and Instagram, but it’s again, it’s the challenge of maintaining everything.  We do use a lot of third party tools to push the marketing side of things which we find works well and we obviously into the day to day side of things prefer to use online tools for managing the business, whether it be accounting software, our website is all run on a third party CMS which is obviously cloud based and what else do we use in the cloud?  Design tools and everything like that that’s all accessible now which really help (a) cut costs and (b) get things done.

 

Craig: So what do you enjoy most about being in business?  What strokes your ties?

 

Nick: Tough question, but I guess it’s with building something from the ground up and seeing the evolution it’s having the chancing to leap at success.  There are days obviously that I don’t enjoy leading. 

 

Craig: You wish you were a follower there mate? [laughs]

 

Nick: Yeah.  Exactly.  When you bring in HR and customer issues and things like that.  Obviously, you want to do a good job, whether it be your staff or your customers but I guess that’s the critical thing is having that chance and opportunity which I do feel fortunate for that you know, we’re in a position that I was able to leave my fulltime employment to follow something which I could see working and it…with just a few challenges and refinements.  We’re now well on a path to making a success. 

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: So that’s pretty special and something that I hold dear and try not to abuse really but it is a bit of a privilege to do this so if I can keep looking at it like that, then it’ll keep me focused and also keep me grounded.

 

Craig: Grounded, which is what New Zealand ___ is all about.  Cool, you hear that?

 

Nick: Yeah, I guess we at the start to kinda pushed the business and I do believe in it is we did a lot of PR work which is obviously the opposite to the grounded because you’re having to put yourself out there and tell your story and that can be difficult at times especially when you get…things like TV involved, so yeah, I think that’s a good balance to have. 

 

Craig: So, ____ what have you learned from you know, five or six years ago, when you left the safe little confines of a lawyer’s office…

 

Nick: To me, just by one and a half years…whatever it was…

 

Craig: You were very structured and disciplined to doing this.  What have you learned as a leader?  Here, professionally and personally?

 

Nick: Yeah, I guess a couple of things, you do mean structure, I have very little structure in my life now. 

 

Craig: [laughs]

 

Nick: Just by trying to plan things, you know, obviously things never really go to plan.  So that’s been difficult in terms of deadlines and things like that as I’m understanding how things work in the real world versus a lawyer’s world where 5 o’clock Friday was your excellent deadline and you wouldn’t dare go past 5 o’clock Friday whereas when you start involving perhaps creative types into the mix and deadlines can often extend. 

 

Craig: Yes.

 

Nick: So that’s been one challenge for me personally and also from a managing or leadership type of thing.  Communication and understanding the importance of communication internally and externally and you can never really over communicate particularly with staff and things of concerns. 

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: I guess that’s another that I’ve really learned is you spend a good portion of your day through communicating and it makes the day go so much better.

 

Craig: Yes.

 

Nick: But then it comes back to what I mentioned earlier about having the structures in place so that the rest of the team can function harmoniously while you’re communicating with them…the team…

 

Craig: Yeah.  And what about the family dynamic, isn’t that communications is key?  Sometimes, the family businesses, they can either go really well which is good or goes real bad because one of the first rules of business is don’t ever do business with family members, isn’t it?

 

Nick: It is. 

 

Craig: Yes, back to the question.  Sorry about the rain everybody!  So I asked Nick about the dynamic of working with some family members.  One of the first rules of business is don’t go into business with family.  So I guess it has worked here.  From a leadership point of view, the communications point of view, have you managed that?

 

Nick: Yeah, it has been both a benefit and a challenge to go into business with family.  On a daily basis, I work with both of my peer, so on a day to day to basis, I mean, both of my brothers work externally from the business so two problems obviously, or challenges working with family day in day out but also having family interested in the business but not having the experience or benefit of seeing what’s happening day to day so we have pretty regular communications between in terms of what’s happening in the business, asking for feedback that they’re both very helpful and useful, these are my brothers who don’t work in the business.

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: But balancing that you also have a clear distinction of what’s business time and what’s family time because there’s always that tendency to make family time always business time and I think that’s critical particularly in terms of my own domestic situation as well, I’ve got a partner who doesn’t work and the person that’s end to end in terms of say my parents with their grandchildren and things like that.  It’s still got to operate in a normal situation and we are very open with each other so there’s never any issues in terms of overstepping lines or boundaries.

 

Craig: Yeah.

 

Nick: And I think it’s really important that everyone gets their chance to have a say but at the end of it, we still sit down for dinner.

 

Craig: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Cool.  Cool.  So you’ve always had external professionals and mentors for your business and I believe now you’ve got a Board of Directors and an independent director tell us about what made you decide that you needed this and the benefits of using these strategies and advise that is out there around using mentors or Board of Directors, etc. 

 

Nick: I guess one of the critical thing is finding the right advice, independent advice and it can be a struggle at times, so I guess what I sort of found is keep persevering until you find exactly what you need at that particular time and your levels of advice and who can advise you changes as the business continues to change…and…

 

Craig: Evolves.  As the business evolves…

 

Nick: Exactly, so I think the best thing you can do is get out there and take advice as step one but then if you’re not getting the right sort of advice is going out and looking for some different advice.

 

Craig: Yeah.  Yeah.

 

Nick: So, we’ve had, as you mentioned, a range from formal strategic planning with our accountants through the business mentors through to now an independent director who I work with closely on a daily basis and they’ve all had their uses and purpose but having an independent voice daily looks like some of the skill gaps that we have or that I have as well is really important and I guess that’s what I see the benefit…the main benefit of the independent board is to plug the skill gaps and I mean we are looking now at maybe bringing another independent onto the board who has some different skill set that none of us have secure around dealing with marketing to the end consumer…

 

Craig: Right.

 

Nick: And events cg and things like that so it’s…

 

Craig: So it’s skill gaps or experience gaps?

 

Nick: I guess both are incredibly relevant because you get the skills from experience so I think yeah.  I think both are intertwined.

 

Craig: And you said before that when you first started out your sort of a range of advisers, I mean, it’s the right advice.  When you start out were you ever nervous and scared about what’s going on.  So how do you know if you get some right advice?  If you’re speaking to for example an accountant and they say you should be doing this strategy, how do you know, is that the gut instinct or it is…how do you know if it’s the right one or the wrong one?

 

Nick: Yeah, it’s a good question because I guess when you go into business you’re always confident and pigheaded and you don’t really wanna take advice.

 

Craig: No.

 

Nick: And then to sit over the table with someone and, no offence when you’re listening to maybe to sit over the table with someone, no offence to any listeners who may be in the accounting profession or something.

 

Craig: Someone’s profession…

 

Nick: Who’s telling you you’re doing this wrong, you’re doing that wrong.  You know, it can be difficult so I think it’s not a case of knowing or choosing what that right advice is at the start but getting a lot of advice and really going out there and getting as much in as you can and taking bits and pieces from different sources to kind of form that plan because you and only you, I guess will know exactly how the business is going internally or what your dreams and goals and things are but it does help to get as much advice from them.

 

Craig: So that could be what we’ve talked about accountant, but there could be other business owners that could be lawyers, other professionals, and that’s where networking comes in, isn’t it?  You realize that when you network, you understand that same…your peers to having the same issues you have even if they might be in a different industry.

 

Nick: Exactly and as many people you can speak to as possible.  You know, whether it’s just a friendly ear or someone that you admire, in your industry or a different industry.  It can be really beneficial to have that engagement. 

 

Craig: Awesome, so the benefit of hindsight, we all do this.  What would you do differently?

 

Nick: Hindsight, oh yeah, it’s a great thing.

 

Craig: No, it’s not.  It’s a terrible thing!

 

Nick: I guess that’s one thing our plan is not to dwell too much on the past.  We do a year review the end of each year and pick out the points of what went good and bad and then put it together and then don’t really dwell on it too much because again, it’s what you’re looking into the future that really controls things.  So I guess with hindsight, what I would do it has been more of a focus on margin analysis in our business, so which products work well, where we can extract the most value and also a better handle on cash flow and budget so that financial side of the business from the get-go.  I spend a lot of focus now on cash flow and planning cash flow a couple of months in advance and…

 

Craig: So you turned into an accountant?

 

Nick: Yeah, well, I…

 

Craig: [laughs]

 

Nick: I think maybe I’m turning into an accountant but that was a chance to really tighten the skill gaps that I had.

 

Craig: Right.

 

Nick: In the financial management side of things and now that’s one of our strengths where a lot of similar sized businesses I see don’t have a handle on cash flow, which in my business, can actually be quite difficult with online selling because we don’t know when people are gonna bulk buy meat packs and what’s gonna happen which is why we’ve diversified the business from just straight online sales to other traditional sales so that we’ve got consistent cash flow coming in.

 

Craig: A little bit of advice to people.  Look after your cash flow and mind your  budget, sounds like you’re good at. A couple of hours a week takes to analyse what else has happened that week which is critical. 

 

Nick: I guess that’s one thing that having an independent director allows me to do because we have a phone call every Friday afternoon, which…

 

Craig: Hi guys, so from your experiences, what are some of the mistakes that you see business owners are making.  So, we talked a little bit about cash flow.  Anything else that…

 

Nick: Yeah.  I guess, something a little different and that I can see out there I see is that they are content both in terms of their businesses and their industries and not pushing their boundaries and or doing the… trying alternative ways to do things and obviously in the retail side of things.  I guess something else I am saying is people being content in terms of their…inside their businesses and in terms of marketing their businesses as well so obviously, the example is that the evolution of online selling and the effect it has on traditional purchasing, and brick and mortar stores and it kinda seems like…to some of them that it’s come out of nowhere whereas the evolution of online selling has been happening in time over the last ten years or so.  So I think, I see that both as established businesses and the traditional business being content can often come back to hurt them later on.  So, i mean, that’s something else we noticed and why we’re doing things differently as well.

 

Craig: So, the moral of the story is don’t be scared of pushing the boundaries and thinking outside the square box, just give it a go.

 

Nick: And also staying on top of things and not just resting on your laurels because you don’t really know what’s around the corner.

 

Craig: Don’t be scared of what’s around the corner. 

 

Nick: Yeah.  That’s just saying a little bit no matter how established you are.

 

Craig: So is that the sort of advice you’d give to…if you were to mentor for a better general word, either both established or a startup…what other things would you…

 

Nick: Yeah, it’s different keeping on top of thinss, looking overseas, seeing what’s happening whether you’re selling shoes or cats, or whatever.  It’s…there’s a lot to…we’re fortunate in this part of the world that we’re a little behind as well.

 

Craig: Yes, yes…I was gonna ask that.

 

Nick: So, it’s kind of a good thing I think for us because we can have a look and see what’s happening overseas.

 

Craig: You think sometimes, people fall into the trap of going overseas either to Europe or America, seeing something, trying to do it New Zealand but they’re too soon

 

Nick: And obviously given our market size as well as the other key issue here, and also how spread out the market is.  It’s a long way from the top of the North Island to Steward Island.  Yes, I know, I definitely think that’s true and that’s where the difficulty, I guess comes in with what I just see is…do you become an adopter or do you follow…

 

Craig: Become second tier.

 

Nick: Yeah and there’s lot of risk, in obviously going out and being an early adopter and it falling in your face which…

 

Craig: But then fortune favours the brave and…

 

Nick: But again coming back to what I mentioned earlier on in the podcast is that’s where you’ve got a profitable and sustainable core being you’ve got those opportunities to go out and expand and you’ve still got that core business to I say loosely, to fall back on but you know…

 

Craig: Yeah.  To pay the bills…

 

Nick: Yeah.  Yeah.

 

Craig: Yeah.  Cool.  Awesome.  And so where do you see your industry going in the next five to ten years?

 

Nick: Yeah, well in the markets, the direct food market, there’s differently more choice for quality and more relationships with…between consumers and producers so I definitely see that as an important step in what we’re trying to stay ahead of because people increasingly do want to know where their food comes from and how it’s produced and what’s going on so I think it’s only gonna get more and we’re gonna see return as one kind of crystal ball return to a lot traditional ways of doing things because the end user or consumer’s putting a price on all those so in our case, it’s manufactured products and more real products and people are prepared to pay more even though it costs more to produce but that’s where I see it headed.

 

Craig: Alright.  Cool.  Awesome!

 

Nick: And you’ll be more disrupters, I’ve already talked about MyFoodBank and seeing markets online so we find those disrupters coming into the market so I guess, listening to my own advice that’s where I need to stay ahead of and say exactly what’s happening in the market and what trends are coming up.

 

Craig: Awesome.  Awesome.  Hey Nick, we’ll wrap it up.  Thanks very much for your time.  .  How do we find you?

 

Nick: Yeah so we are an online business.  Our website, so you can check out our products at greenmeadowsbeef.co.nz and find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with our page will get you there.

 

Craig: Awesome!  Right.  Thank Nick!  Good stuff!

 

Nick: Sure!

 

www.greenmedowsbeef.co.nz 

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