Five tips on running a family business

Joanna Greaves who looks after our small and medium enterprise teams, is a mum who after hours, also manages a pasture raised free-range egg business with her husband and four children. Here's Joanna's five tips on running a family business.

Joanna Greaves, Head of Small & Medium Enterprise.

  1. Know your ‘why’

    It's critical to understand your purpose, your why. This is what drives those two feet on the floor every day and serves as a focus to keep two hands on the steering wheel when navigating a rocky path. It's this purpose that ignites the motivation to dig deep and get stuck in when the going gets tough.

    We started Greaves' Goods as we nurture the values of knowing where and who our food is sourced from, as well as how it was produced. So although we only have a small piece of land that we're currently running, it's that connection to the land for us, and also the opportunity to teach our family some lifelong lessons around the value of food and money.

  2. Spend time on market research

    Something that's really important, yet so simple and easy to do, is market research. Ask yourself questions like: who are your competitors? Why will people choose to buy from you? What's your unique proposition, or what problem are you trying to solve?

  3. Leave some things to the experts

    Sometimes as an entrepreneur you want to have absolute control of everything. Especially with a small business due to the scale, you can end up wearing a variety of hats, needing to fulfil the function of any larger scale business. You also want to minimise outgoings in the beginning. But you can burn a lot of time, energy and money doing jobs yourself, and end up with a less than ideal result. This is the juggle – knowing where to focus your energy and knowing when to outsource or seek support.

    One area where we're really glad we got support was our website and marketing. We're pleased we did this, as without it we could have absolutely compromised our proposition.

  4. Invest in an online platform

    When we’re not on the farm, both myself and my husband work regular 8am to 5pm roles. For us, it's important we operate a business model that's relatively self sufficient during these traditional working hours and we can then arrange our other activities around our day jobs.

    Although a fairly sizeable upfront cost, investing in an online platform has been critical because it has enabled us to be open 24 hours, seven days a week. During lockdown we were able to facilitate contactless deliveries easily with minimal disruption to our business model.

  5. Share the workload

    You can’t do everything yourself, and if you try it’s not a great way for your team – in our case, our children - to learn. Getting the children involved in some of the more manual tasks has really helped not only to alleviate duties for us, but we were wanting our children to understand the mechanics of running a business and understand the traceability of how food is produced.

    Sometimes they get frustrated with fitting in their daily tasks on the farm amongst school and sporting commitments, but I think they're really proud and enjoy contributing to the business. They get to write their name on the sticker that goes into the boxes of eggs. We frequently receive feedback and when a customer says, ‘thank you so much, Lucy, these are the best eggs I've ever tasted’, we observe the biggest beaming smile on their faces. I think that small reward helps at times especially when they're out in the rain, collecting eggs and moving the chicken house.

Joanna Greaves' family farm.

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