The other day Seth Godin ran an post titled, "Maybe you can't make money doing what you love." He say's, "That blog you've built, the one with a lot of traffic... perhaps it can't be monetized. That non-profit you work with, the one where you are able to change lives... perhaps turning it into a career will ruin it. That passion you have for art... perhaps making your painting commercial enough to sell will squeeze the joy out of it." So many of us start in the nursery business because we love the work. It seems that if you do what you love the money will follow. Not always. The nursery business is no longer what it use to be. The days of people waiting outside the gates on a Saturday morning are all but gone. I know some places that may still exist but not here in northern California. It's not that the nursery business really did anything wrong, but rather the times have changed. Maybe we didn't change fast enough along with the consumer. We just assumed that gardening would always be Americans number one hobby. Now we have an infinite choices of where to spend our time and money. Some people just don't think gardening is all that cool.
Are you depressed yet? I'm not. Sure I remember "the good all days". Gone. We are entering an era where really none of us know what tomorrow brings. The only thing for certain is change, and more rapid than ever. So what's a small garden center to do? Roll with the punches. That's one of the benifits of being a small business. You can change on a dime. What takes large corporations months and years to do we can do in a few days or weeks. We have been making changes here at our nursery.
We talked about how my wife Monica is opening up a day care in two of the rental units we own in front of the nursery. We made the decision because the reality of these days points out that in our area day care is needed. Monica went to a meeting last night with the other day care business in the area. They are full! They, the competition, said more daycare is needed in our area. The comment Angela made at one of my last posts said it all, " I think your instincts are right-on on this one. Every time I peruse the Classifieds for 'nursery' jobs these days, virtually the only companies hiring are the ones that take care of kidlings, not plantlings. If Monica has the credentials, hey, why not?!"
Are we closing the nursery? No. Are we readjusting what we do with our property. Yes. The nursery is a seasonal business, and here in the mountains winters are pretty slow. By opening the day care we will be able to take some of the presuure off the nursery to "do it all". We are entruprenus. And that's my message to you. Sometimes we define ourselves by what we do. "I am a nurseryman" was the way I thought of myself before. What ever I did was looked through the lens of being a nurseryman. Come "hell or high water" a nurseryman was what I'll always be.Â Well something changed recently. It has a lot to do with the economy, but also the times we live in. If your going to be nimble and fluid in your life don't be so focused on one tree that you don't see the forest all around you.
The nursery industries are involved in some of the biggest changes they have seen in a long time. Many nurseries are going to be gone by next year, and the year after. They remain too focused on trying to do business the old way. What's the new way? Heck if I know. Every business and owner has a unique set of circumstances to deal with. Each will respond differently to the challenges. What's that crazy idea you have?