"Having a business adviser looking at my plans and thinking that it was a goer gave me a real confidence boost."
An overview from the Farmer Network:
David Harris was one of 16 young people on the Business Support Programme in October 2018. He already had a clear idea of what he wanted to do – but the programme has massively helped his confidence and enabled him to start out as a self-employed cattle foot-trimmer in April 2019.
Here's what David had to say:
In the beginning: I came from a Dales farming background and worked at Metcalfe Farms with responsibility for curative foot trimming – something I grew a keen interest in developing. I was later employed by Bishopton Vets in Ripon who took me on as a Vet Tech cattle foot trimmer.
Keen to follow my agricultural ambition to become a full-time self-employed Foot Trimmer, I found out about the programme from the Farmer Network newsletter and took part in the (most recent) course in October 2018.
How the programme helped:
"I knew what I wanted to do when I started the programme and I got a great overview of what being in business means. It gave me the details I needed to know what’s needed when you start up being self-employed".
Explore Enterprise workshop - the business basics: I knew what I wanted to do when I went to the first of three workshops, and I got a really good overview of what being in business means and the details of what is necessary to start up – things like setting up my books properly and getting the right insurance cover as a self-employed person.
One of the biggest benefits of the workshops and talking to others on the programme, was the confidence it gave me to speak to Bishopton Vets about going self-employed as a full time Foot Trimmer. It was daunting, but I was prepared, I was business like, and we negotiated something that was beneficial to both of us - they are now my largest client and have been very supportive.
Business Advisors: My Business Adviser was Everley Buckley - Having a business adviser looking at my plans and thinking that it was a goer gave me a real confidence boost. It was good to have someone checking the detail of the plan and helping me secure the loan I needed for the equipment. An outside perspective is always useful.
Training Grant: I used the training grant to help pay towards the cost of a Professional Cattle Foot Trimming course which enabled me to become a member of the National Association of Cattle Foot Trimmers. (NACFT).
Loan: I could have started out at a lower level with a second-hand crush, but I wanted to go in at the highest level I could, using a roll over crush which I felt was better for the cattle and better for me too. That’s why I used the loan facility to get the best gear I could for the job. The roll over crush I bought is neat, fits into small areas, is quick to set up, clean and take down. The cows are calm, don’t struggle in the crush and you are working at a height that does not cause back ache – I will be using it for years, so health and safety is a key consideration.
Being able to have this kit at the start has already gained me new customers.
The mentoring: My mentor is Roz Barden, we’re just making plans to meet up as I’ve just got my business underway, but it’s great to know I will have a mentor who is on hand for a couple of years after being on the programme - and that the team from The Farmer Network are still so supportive too.
Best foot forward. Just turned 24, David has now been running his own foot trimming business for six months. His previous employer has now become his largest client: he regularly visits his Bishopton Vets farmer clients, but now has the flexibility to add more work and new farmers to his books.
Having state of the art equipment that keeps cattle calm has been very beneficial and he is steadily growing his customer base for regular maintenance work.
Working across North Yorkshire means David still has time to tend his flock of 100 Cheviot ewes on his grandmother's farm in Wensleydale. He still helps out there - but doesn’t need the cattle crush!
The biggest thing for me, was talking to my current employer about going self-employed. The programme gave me the confidence to tackle that head on and we still have a good working relationship today.
What advice would we give to new entrants?
"I’d say give it a go - what have you got to lose? If you haven’t got a full plan ready, or not 100% sure which direction to take, you will get some good advice - and even some ideas from others on the programme too."