I officially had 3 months to move my factory, and, after 20 years, let me tell you that would be no small feat.
Every morning I woke up feeling physically ill at the prospect of the whole task and the uncertainty of our future.
I guess when you’ve been in development your whole life, committing to a path is a lot more daunting and yet also liberating.
20 years ago, I started a business to manufacture and sell things that I created. It started with the Bushman Burner which we still sell to this day.
But we’ve also made:
- African Pot Houses
- Large architectural pots and planters
- Garden gnomes and gargoyles
- Teddy bears and dragon heaters
- ‘Moles revenge’ garden ornaments
- Garden buildings and thatched roofs
- Imported Thai and Bali ornaments
- Dome homes
- Wall murals and paving slabs
- Copper lighting
- Sewn components: hibernation covers and blinds
- Curtains and lambrequin
- Yurts and tepees
- And of course, the Wood Fired Ovens that form the bulk of our business, these have also been on a similar development path of creation
When you look at the list of things, it’s hard to see how one business could make so many diverse products yet all of them are related to something.
For instance: Bushman Burners and Yurts (I digress, but it’s important to see how they link up)
To make an inflatable bladder you need an industrial sewing machine and pattern cutting skills. The sewing machine I had from the time when I used to make curtains and lambrequin, so it was easy to cut patterns and stitch them up to make bladders. As the bladders grew to the size of the African Pot House, the sewing machine couldn’t handle the weight of the fabric, so an industrial machine was acquired. This was then put to use making Tepees and Yurts. All this because someone asked me if I could make one.
The ‘moles revenge’ ornaments came from a desire to have something to sell at the gardening shows, that was easy to make from waste products from the concrete side of things. When you expand that over 20 years, it accounts for a lot of storage space and a lot of so-called junk.
But it’s not junk, it has value, but how the devil do you turn that into cash?
I believe that I’ll come out of the experience a leaner, more focused, progressive business
Well, I guess it’s fair to say I’ve had to grow up and get a pair. I wasn’t going to have half as much storage space at my new unit, so it had to go. The skip bonfires were burning bright, leaving a hollow in my stomach, many a sleepless night and sometimes sheer panic.
But out of all of this mayhem, I saw the glimmer of light and a sound and rigid structure on which to build the future.
My whole point of becoming a Renegade was to liberate myself from my business in 3-5 years, and when I set out to achieve that a year ago, I had no idea how that would happen; but with the vision in place, a set of circumstances have occurred that are literally forcing me down the path to achieve that goal.
It’s going to be hard work, but I do believe that this time next year I’ll be in a much stronger position and my business structure will be a lot more focused.
My 1-2-1 with my Mastermind Group Leader (Dave) helped create structure in what needed to be accomplished in the given time frame. This also needed to be communicated in a structured manner to the small team I have so that it all ran as smoothly as possible.
The plan of the space was the first step;
Taking advice from what I learned from the book ‘Built to Sell’ by John Warrillow, I knew that in order to realise the vision, I’m going to have to grow my business. Having a freedom figure’ in my head, derived through a strategy and forecast session, I now know what the business needs to turn over in order to achieve the end result I require.
Clearing out the 20 years of development was not easy; I guess you could say I’m a bit of a hoarder, I like having the things I have created around me.
But something I read in Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley rang true when he said, ‘’When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he had the Apple Museum that was at the front of the Apple headquarters removed. He said he wanted a forward-thinking company with forward thinking people not “living in the past’’, and I get that.
The floor space cost of my new factory is a lot higher than the last, and I don’t have free space to store old ideas, therefore every square foot needs to be accounted for with some form of financial return.
The bonfire and skips were loaded high; setting a match to the bonfire also meant I could not pull it back out again.
The move has therefore been a key turning point in my life, and although I wasn’t happy about it, pulling me way out of my comfort zone has made me think about my business in more ways than I could have done without the upheaval.
I believe that I’ll come out of the experience a leaner, more focused, progressive business. The move also allows for future business expansion in two industries I’m passionate about:
- The creation of a wood fired oven for a broader spectrum of client
- The expansion of the mobile catering and coach building side of things
By the time this article was due, and while I was still waking up in the morning feeling like my soul had been ripped out, we’d already moved 15 loads to the new factory. In just 2 weeks:
- All the new offices, toilets and staff facilities had been purchased, delivered and positioned
- Half the racking had been disassembled
- A load of un-sellable stuff had been sold
And the business continued to run.
Our move of big equipment would happen next, and I planned to be out completely in less than 4 weeks. This would give me just a few short weeks to build and organise the new facility, ready to open the doors with the 3-month target… so, no pressure then!