Seedlab on Tour

Dr Hazel MacTavish West with Bronwyn Douglas of Elemental Ecoshrouds

For a change, some of the Seedlab Tasmania team have been zooming around the beautiful state of Tasmania seeing our Seedlabbers far and wide IRL, instead of sitting at Seedlab HQ Zooming virtually. It was gorgeous!

There were hugs, cakes, coffee, conversations, pictures, tears, tastings, tea and tips shared. Our community came together in bundles across the different cohort groups: Sisters, Bootcampers, Cultivators… and all of them, always: Alumni (spelled f.a.m.i.l.y.).

Every single Seedlabber is a person with a passion and a sense of purpose to create an income for themselves and their families by doing what they love. They have a burning passion. It keeps them awake at night. It makes them get up early and do more. It makes them take risks. Invest time and money and above all: energy. It makes them determined. Focused. And sometimes it makes them a little demented, distracted, and desperate when things aren’t working out.

I’ve felt this too. When you have that burn, and you have worked so hard and invested so much, and yet success alludes you. The turnover is just not turning up. The bank balance is the wrong shade of red.

Reflecting on the diverse conversations we have had, in totality, they represent the journey that is ‘being in business’.

Starting out with BIG IDEAS! And SO MANY BIG IDEAS! At the beginning, EVERYTHING seems possible! “We’ll have THIS many things, and sell THAT many products”. This can rapidly spiral into confusion: “Which things do I promote? How do I sell ALL these things?” And then when sales get quiet, into “WHAT can I make next?” Often, longer term businesses are routinely making things a certain way, and not necessarily standing back and thinking: “Is this THE most efficient way I can make this? Is this lean?”

Many of our conversations were ‘S’ conversations: SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY. Less products, less variations, less ideas.

Some were ‘F’ conversations: F.O.C.U.S. One thing at a time.

Some were simply ‘M’ conversations: MARKETING! If you aren’t telling anyone about your products, how, why, when and where will they buy them?

Other conversations were about how to know when it’s time to focus your energies 100% on your business and actually make the jump from your day job. A tough one, that. Jump too early and the pressure it puts on your business and your family can be the kiss of death. Jump too late, or never at all, and you miss out on your dream.

The conversations I enjoyed the most were those about rethinking how business is done. Just because something has been done a certain way for 20 years doesn’t necessarily mean that is right, especially when you’ve taken over a long term business. It’s a time to reflect, to get a second opinion, to shake things up, and to bring new, best practice to the table.

– Dr Hazel MacTavish West | Seedlab Tasmania

The hardest conversations were around how to know when it’s time to S.T.O.P. You’ve given it your best, you’ve sunk all your money, time has passed, the competitors have overtaken you, and it’s just “not gonna happen”. There is no business fairy that makes everything fair. Sometimes stopping, regrouping, recovering and simply doing something else is required.

We saw various parts of the stopping journey, from just starting to realise this may be it, to having looked doom and gloom in the face and turned their backs on it to refresh, re-energise and repurpose. Wonderful to hear of people taking time to find family balance in what is otherwise a non-stop “suck everything you have out of you” life. Absolutely wonderful to hear about succession planning and exit strategies under consideration, in which families come on board and share the dream.

The team talked through all this and more. We thought up new ways to support our Seedlabbers, with new events and opportunities. We made connections with stakeholders who can make these opportunities happen. We saw people using tools and techniques that we have shared in Seedlab to keep their businesses on track. And our hearts were warmed by the love and the feeling of “together we are more”.

It takes a village, this entrepreneurship thing. And Seedlab Tasmania is the best darned village I have ever lived in. Proud to be home!