A worm farming business can be a deeply satisfying endeavor – but it is not without its challenges (understatement of the year – lol). One major challenge us “pro” worm farmers need to contend with is the rise and fall of demand at different times of year.
Naturally, there tends to be a LOT of interest in the late winter and spring, when people are excitedly planning and starting their gardening projects. Then, things taper off as “vacation season” approaches, and everyone tends to be more focused on family trips and days at the beach than on gardening and composting.
With the arrival of fall there is usually another (smaller-than-spring) spike in interest. School is back in, people have woken from ‘vacation mode’ stupors, and in hotter regions this can actually be an important gardening season as well. And then…once again, things tend to slow down once the colder (or at least cooler) months of winter arrive.
Obviously this is a very generalized overview of the season, and it certainly doesn’t apply to everyone (location and business focus can both have a major influence). But I think it’s safe to say that most of us (in the ‘biz’) will encounter some slow times along the way.
And let’s face it – these periods can be disheartening – especially when just starting out.
So what is a worm farmer to do? How do we best take advantage of this extra time, so we are even BETTER prepared to take advantage of the crazy times?
And how do we avoid the financial strains that come with a lack of revenue?
There are a variety of options, but in my humble opinion there are three MAIN areas we should be focusing on during these periods.
2) Market Presence
In upcoming blog posts I will chat in more depth about each of them, but for now I will provide a quick overview.
One thing I tend to stress – especially with newcomers – is the importance of “focus” in your business. I know from personal experience that it is usually a LOT more effective when you pick one or two main products (naturally, products you have determined there is a demand for) and really zone in on getting good at producing/sourcing/selling them.
What’s funny is I basically took the opposite approach with my own “real world” worm biz when first starting out – trying to sell anything and everything remotely related to worm composting. Before smartening up and gradually narrowing down my focus more and more (to the point where I now basically just sell a single product).
But lectures on the importance of focus aside, there is still a very valid argument to be made for diversification – IF done correctly. And this can be especially important for the periods of time when the demand for you your main product(s) is not nearly as high.
I know all too well that during “busy season” it can be very difficult to find the time for content creation, social media posting, website development etc etc (hence my “feast and famine” communication tendencies many of you are familiar with), so it can be really important to invest as much time in the “off season” as you can.
It can be a tricky balancing act, when you are depending on your worm biz income to pay the bills, but this type of “work” can pay huge dividends down the road, so I strongly recommend making a concerted effort in this arena.
It may also seem counter-intuitive to focus on brand-building (etc) when far fewer people are paying attention, but again it is all about doing the work now so you can reap the benefits later.
Diversifying and building up a stronger presence aren’t necessarily going to help if all your work involves trading time for dollars. If anything, you’ll likely just end up even more stretched thin amd stressed!
This is where automation comes in.
Naturally, this will mostly apply to our online efforts – where we can set up streamlined ordering and customer-care systems, content marketing “funnels” etc – but there are ways we can improve efficiency on the “real world” side of things as well.
Don’t worry if all this seems a bit vague (or sounds like “Greek”). Like I said, in upcoming lessons I will flesh things out quite a bit more
IMPORTANT NOTE: There is another very important phase/focus that we won’t be covering in this series – something we might refer to as “preparation”. Obviously there are going to be periods of time leading up to peak season when we will need to be setting up new beds, performing maintenance work etc. But, in my experience, this tends to be what business owners put most of their time and attention on anyway!
It is these other (often neglected) areas where I feel more attention needs to be given.
OK – well that’s enough of an “eye-ful” for the first post.
Hopefully a lot of you are looking forward to learning more. 🙂
Talk again soon
Thankfully I am not the only one. Great post. We take this time to look at what we did wrong and fix those things. We also spend the time getting the Winter beds ready. We have indoor beds that need to be fixed, a couple of heated buildings that need to be cleaned out and the greenhouse has to be made to hold up to Winter. That greenhouse is what stands between us and working in cold NJ winters outside, so it has to be able to take on Winter.
We love the slow season because we catch a breather, but we miss it too. That mad scramble, dead shipment, postal delays, customer complaints and normal hiccups provide a good shot of adrenaline most days. The slow season does not have that high and I begin to go through withdrawal. I will then fight with the wife, kids and neighbors to boost it up (kidding).
It really is a good time to prep, make connections with suppliers that are over-supplied and prepare for spring, even while still in the middle of Summer. 🙂
Hey Ken – thanks for chiming in! What a great response. Really interesting to get your perspective, and learn about the sorts of activities you are involved in when things slow down. I like that you pointed out some of the benefits of slow periods as well.
Hey Bentley, it’s been a while since I last posted. Interesting article! Personally the slow or down time has been good for my worm biz. I oversold my stock during the peak season and now the slow time is giving me the opportunity to rebuild my stock. The worms are reproducing rapidly and we should be ready when selling time rolls around again. Our summers in West Texas are brutal with triple digit temps so it’s not a good time to ship worms anyway as it is just too risky in this heat. For those depending on worm sales for their livelihood, my suggestion would be to budget closely during the busy times and prepare for the slow times in advance.
Just some rambling thoughts. Thanks again for your article,
Great to hear from you Gary! And it is interesting to see another person who doesn’t mind the slow season. I think you are actually a great example of how “diversification” can really help. Unless I am mistaken you have a well established, completely separate business that is your main focus, right? This is a big part of WHY I encourage people just starting out to make worm farming a small side gig – and then gradually build things up from there (or not – depending on their preferences)! 🙂