Friday, November 28, 2014

part 1: Trying to make a profit every way possible: Tim Young

Tim and Liz Young
Tim and Liz Young have been trying to make a go of the farming business for quite a while; at the bottom of this post  you'll find a number of links to various entries I've written over the last few  years for background if you're interested.

Oh yes, I should probably mention that this is entirely my opinion, and that I have no connection to Tim and/or Liz Young or any venture they are involved with, in the past, present or future.  

The basic problem that Tim has is a pretty common one.  He's actually an excellent example of an approach that a lot of people take to farming, particularly if they have little or no experience at it.  Here's a summary:  

Decide that they want to farm
Locate land and usually buy it to start the farm
Start raising things on the farm
Figure out that the hard part isn't raising things, it's selling things
try their best to sell their products
rethink the whole goal.  

What's interesting about Tim is that he's very persistant.  I've got to give him every credit for the various ways that he's tried to make a profit.  He's also got a pretty good sense of marketing, and has been very successful at getting press coverage of his various ventures. 

But there's something odd about all of his ventures.  Here's a quote from an interview he gave to the NY Times :

"Nature’s Harmony will never make the Youngs wealthy again, but they seem past caring. “A lot of what I’ve done in my business life, I don’t think it really means anything,” Tim said. “There’s this whole — you’re seeing a lot of it now with all the politics and bailouts — way to make money in the world but not really do anything to contribute. I feel like what we do is important. But it’s not financially rewarding. Who cares? As long as you can make it on your own.” He tugged on his weathered hat and added, “Let me tell you something: we’re going to eat well.”

What's odd about this quote is that Tim has repeatedly promoted making a profit; he's offered classes on how to make a profit with his farm, he's talked a lot about profitability on his blog and in his podcasts (both of which he's removed from the internet since) and he's talked a lot about his business acumen and abilityt make money -- just not, apparently, from his farming ventures.  

So to have a new venture tied to profitability seems an odd direction -- from telling people that profits weren't his goal to proposing to tell people how to make money...  Ok.    

There's an old saw about how to make a million dollars.  It's basically to put an advertisement out there that says "Send me $10 and I'll send you the secret to make a million", and you buy some stamps and some envelopes, and in reply to each $10, you send them a sheet of paper that says "put an advertisement out there that says..."

If I'm gonna buy a book on how to make money, I'd like it to be written by a guy who's made money; it's that basic conflict that makes it hard for me to believe that he's got anything more than the $10 advertisement out there.  

The new venture he's trying now appears to me to be a variation on the $10 advertisement.  It's a preparedness blog and website, heavy on product suggestions and "online store" items, and he's claiming to have "over 25,000 awesome people subscribe to weekly updates" ...which seems a little suspicious since his farms facebook page has 8,000 likes for its entire lifetime, multiple likes from each person...   

All credit due, there's some interesting content that he's put out there (not from him, just links to other stuff) and I'm sure that he's got stuff to say...  Maybe this is the sort of venture that will work out for him where the other four related startups didn't.  

In part 2 I'll talk about an alternate path that might have worked better for Tim and produced the results that so many people (Not just Tim) want from their farming venture.  

Background on The Youngs:

1 comment:

Nicholas Skaggs said...

Can't wait to see part II. Obviously the market for this sort of information is high, else you wouldn't see folks like Tim entering the market constantly.