The first five years of my life were in a council flat in the East End of London, the only natural greenery I had seen was the river Thames (It was very dirty). Imagine what was going on in my head when my mum and dad moved us out to Sevenoaks and I saw grass for the first time….
Not only did I see grass, flowers and trees for the first time I came across the humble honey bee! I asked my dad what it was and he went into great detail explaining that the honey bee is the source of all food because without it’s pollination of the plants the human race would starve. This information started my lifelong fascination with bees.
Two years ago (quite a few years after the first bee encounter) I fulfilled that lifelong ambition of acquiring my first bee hive; little did I realise what a journey of discovery I was embarking upon. If I knew anything, I knew that I knew nothing about beekeeping and if I wanted to be the best beekeeper I could be, I would need some help.
One of our ABC Networks members had a stepson that had been keeping bees for ten years since he was seven, so I asked him if I could pay him to teach me, as we all know the quickest way to acquire a new skill is to learn from someone that’s been there, seen it and done it! He agreed and I’m now a proficient beekeeper.
Back to the present day and I have done with the bees what I do with businesses; I have ten hives and at the height of summer about one million bees. Growth requires different skills and trying to do things in a large apiary is like doing things in a large business, in order for it to be scalable we have to have a different set of systems and processes because we can’t do ALL of the work ourselves.
With an apiary once you have taken the honey from the frames you must clean the frames and prepare them for the next season, now, on average that took me about 15minutes per frame, 24 frames, in total six hours. As a hobby that’s great, but as a business with ten hives it’s a whole different ball game.
Realising that I needed help again, I went to a commercial apiary and asked how they cleaned up the frames at the end of each year. They showed me this very grand steamer and showed me how it would work. It was certainly an impressive machine, however it was more for the next stage of bee keeping to where I currently was, so I went home and designed my own. An old plastic dustbin, a new wallpaper steamer and some ingenuity and within half hour I had built my own steamer. Another hour and I had cleaned all of the frames ready for next year.
The lessons from this are twofold; firstly, as business owners we should always be looking for better ways to do what we are currently doing and ultimately be looking for the best way to do it. Secondly, we can’t do it alone! Very few of us have an absolutely unique business and the likelihood is that someone somewhere is doing it a lot better than we are, so find out who they are and ask them how they are doing it and emulate what things they are doing better than us. Reinventing the wheel is time consuming and not necessary in most cases so finding a inspirational coach or mentor is fundamental to personal and business growth.
If you would like some different wheels for your business, come along to my Entrepreneurs Business Club!
Ash is the “FlipFlopPsycho!”