Thanks all for your comments!
It is awesome to read the information and sort through it all. As for my business skills....they are yet to be had. That is why I am starting from the ground up. My plan is to start reinvesting all of my profits this year (instead of keeping them for myself) to increase in number of hives.
I am sure yall haven't heard of the guy I worked for. He had +-350 hives and sold all of it locally. I really respect him though.
I love what Jim Lyon said about no risk...no reward.
You guys are awesome. Thanks for yalls advise. There really isn't anything that anyone could say that would deter me from trying to be a commercial beekeeper. I just like positive advise and thinking.
Well if you love the no risk no reward words then I think you should borrow all the money that you can and get as big as you can as fast as you can. If I were you I would strive for 1000 hives to start off and go from there.
While most would say it's no big deal to reinvest everything the first year, especially when there's only a small number of hives involved, I would urge caution.
It takes a lot of discipline to pay expenses, grow, and assure yourself of a 'take home' net.
You want to get into that mindset from day one.
Plenty of folks have used FSA loans to get things started.
However, I would choose a far more manageable starting number of colonies.
WLC- I was actually thinking about doing a FSA loan to start with about 50 hives and go from there. My main goal is to pay the loan off....then start some take home from there as I grow
"Most of my exercise comes from wrestling with pigs and beating dead horses."
Sounds reasonable. Although I might add that you should sell any increases and honey, then sell some more bees to drop that starting number even lower. You don't just want to pay back the loan. You want to hold on to assets AND have operating money.
Then you repeat the process.
Lots of bee outfits have been sold on contract. Work for a seasoned beekeeper for a few years. After you know the ins and outs he will set you up. No bank for anything except an operating loan.
Good call WLC
I am going to have to have some experience wintering my own hives through winter before I feel confident in selling bees.
Don't you have to be state inspected to sell bees? Does anyone have a link/info on qualifications to sell bees?
Dont tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled. - The Quran
I used to do what I called "train wreck accounting". I would go into to a business and set up or clean up their books for them, and in many cases transition them from manual systems to computerized systems. These were typically small businesses owned by guys who took off on their own after becoming very good at whatever their particular skill or interest was.
Almost always, the story played out the same. Guy gets a job as a laborer with a construction company, works up to carpenter, then foreman, then decides he can do better on his own. Starts his own company and immediately forgets that he's no longer a carpenter, he's a manager. A businessman (or woman).
He can't keep the books, and can't tell if the cute little thing he hired to keep them for him is doing it correctly. Sooner than later he can't make payroll even though the work seems to be coming in and things start to tumble.
I saw it over and over. People who were really good at something but had no clue about the back room where the money got counted and the bills got paid. Don't kid yourself into thinking that you can buy a copy of Quickbooks and plunk it on your laptop and call it good. You have to really understand the debits and the credits and what they mean. You have to be able to read and interpret financials if you want to know how your business is doing, just like you have to be able to pop a cover off of a hive and read the bees and the comb in order to tell how that colony is doing. I'll never forget getting a guy set up who had built 5 nice big homes each year for over 15 years. He did ok, but knew something wasn't right. After I got a nice job cost system up and running he was able to see that of the 5 homes he finished each year, three lost money, and the other two models carried him. He dropped the losers and almost immediately tripled his net.
By contrast, I've also seen people who were only mediocre at what they did who were able to prosper because they knew where every penny came from and where it went and why. They could spot trouble before it became fatal and adjust.
Go for it, and good luck. Just keep in mind you're transitioning from a beekeeper to a business manager.
Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...
Thats a nice write up about financials Barry. Speaking of quickbooks, that is the system my wife wants to use. I would prefer just writing my own database/software to track all the costs and setup my own trend analysis with it, but she would rather I concentrate on the bees.
Only thing I have to say is those pretty little things generally dont have a clue about financials but are fun to look at and can enter the data into the system somewhat accurately. Not hardly worth their pay.
"People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney
Cwoods, if you can keep your bees alive, everything else will follow. The trick is when you start looking after hundreds and thousands of hives, the proper attention needs to be put towards each colony, and thats the rub. When your time starts to get stretched, things get overlooked, work starts getting behind and the hives may suffer. Manage that work load, there are many ways of achieving this.
To find that magic number of hives a beekeeper can comfortably care for is best to find gradually over time. Take 5 years to build to 1000 hives, rather than buying 2000 hives and end up with 1000...
yea you cant be successful unless you have quick-books and good ledgers. The business thing is the last thing you need to worry about.
That will come when it needs to because it has to.
Keeping bees alive is good advice but not going to make much money with out good bee yards and big bees when they need to be.
Making this 80-100 lb average is not easily attained.
Good intuition is important.
Experience and knowledge gives you confidence, also very important.
i dont even have a printer that works
I'll have to agree with Barry Digman, I've seen many people in many fields who were good at what they do, but not good at running a business. The two are different skills. It's true you probably won't succeed at running your own mechanic shop (or beekeeping operation) if you aren't good at what you do, but it takes more than that. I've seen many Medical Doctors who got out of med school assuming they knew how to run a medical practice. But to learn that you'd have to study business, not medicine... and they often go broke, not because they aren't good doctors but because they assumed that because they were "smart" they knew how to run a business...