Overcoming Adversity

April 19th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Not everything goes as planned when building a business…

After months of building up the hydroponics farm, it felt like it was all just about to come together. I had mostly finished building my first 2 greenhouses and was in the middle of framing the third. All I had to do then was install all of the plastic liners for my hydroponic tanks, which I had simply been waiting to do all at once. Once the liners are in, the tanks get filled up with nutrient rich water and I am off and growing. I was a week away from having completed all of it, enabling me to officially move from a hobbyist to a commercial grower.
I had it all planned out. Over the next week, I’d finish building the frame and install the tank liners so I could start filling up my hydroponic rafts with young seedlings ready for transplant. These young seedlings would be the first plants I take to market.

It was all going according to plan… Until a big storm hit.
Overnight I went from the peaceful scene above, to this:

All the rafts that had experimental produce were now floating around the greenhouse. The rafts of the middle greenhouse were completely invisible underneath the flood. The rafts you see in the picture are actually floating 6 inches high, only kept in place by ground posts. I had never seen anything like this on my property. And thing is, it wasn’t even a long storm, I thought I’d seen worse come and go without anything resembling this aftermath. The combination of high winds from the coast and ground saturation left the ground unable to drain quickly enough.
Obviously, I had some adjusting to do.

I was mostly thankful nothing was ruined. But, how did I not account for this? I should’ve known the local rivers could flood and reach my property. In fact, my main regret is that I did not seek enough advice from neighbors who had been here long before me to tell me that this might occur.

But, just like any other obstacle in life, we observe, learn from the experience, and then adapt accordingly.

Learning was the easy part. I only had to look outside to see what I did wrong. Now I needed to adapt, come up with a game plan. I was feeling lucky that this happened when it did. I was only a week away from putting in the finishing touches on all 3 of the greenhouses, meaning that it would have been difficult to make any adjustments to help prevent this from happening again.

Only a few rafts in the first greenhouse had been fully completed, which I was using for practice and experimentation. Given this, I still had the ability to raise the ground level of the rafts by filling in the ground with a layer of crushed rock. Knowing I had a solution, I did not let unwanted thoughts enter the equation. They were of no use, in fact, it would only hinder my action towards taking corrective measures by adding fear and anxiety to the situation.

If this had happened only a few months later, I would’ve never seen it coming. Rafts would be floating everywhere. I would have lost more than a thousand dollars in marketable produce. Even my seedling table had been built too low, and my newly germinated seeds would have been completely lost. I would have been starting over just as I was getting off the ground. Imagine what that would have looked like, having customers expecting their produce from their new farmer, only to have their new excitement over a new producer dashed by a storm that didn’t even crack the record books.

So, the plan was to get 100 tons of crushed rock delivered a few days after the water retreated, and I was only really delayed by 2 weeks rather than nearly 2 months. I guess there are many ways that I could have looked at this situation, but to me, it was clearly having an instance of good karma. The flooding happened before it was too late, allowing me to quickly adjust to the circumstances.

I should add that highlights the benefits of hydroponics over traditional farming, which I have discussed in previous posts. If I would’ve gone that route, everything would have been completely lost. I would also had to find a completely different area to grow on, or spend a few thousand dollars bringing in topsoil, which would’ve lacked any of the natural microbes which can only develop over time.

Bootstrapping a business is as risky as you make it. In this case, waiting until the last moment to make my greenhouses a lot more permanent ended up saving precious time, money and energy.

Never lose sight of the goal when an obstacle comes your way. The only way we grow is through overcoming some sort of adversity. When these are viewed as challenges, we reframe the task at hand and are able to focus our mental energy in a much more positive and constructive way. We come out of it more resilient, better able to handle the next one.

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