"Explore all the avenues and keep a level head. If you believe in what you do and are prepared to work hard, 99% of the time it will work out".
An overview from the Farmer Network:
As a 19 year-old, Martin was on the Farmer Network Hill Farm Succession Scheme. One of the farmers he worked for and neighbour, Will Rawling, told him about the new business support programme and how it could help him with the next stage of starting his own business. Martin took full advantage of learning with others about the basics and then worked with his business adviser to plan out a way of delivering a new service in his area. He is a good example of a young person taking advantage of the contacts made through the Farmer Network programmes. He has worked hard to gain a good reputation for his services and is now in a good position to take the next step towards a farm of his own.
Here's what Martin had to say:
In the beginning: I grew upon the family farm at Strudda Bank, Calderbridge and 8 years ago was working for a number of local farms as part of the Farmer Network Hill Farm Succession Scheme. I wanted to develop a shepherding service on a self-employed basis for farmers one or two days a week, or just occasionally, and to build up my own farming assets to give me a chance of getting a farm tenancy in the future. Since taking part in the Programme and developing his shepherding business, I have never been short of work and built up my own profitable flock of 250 Cheviot ewes on rented land. Now aged 27, I have recently applied for a farm tenancy am also looking at other options, including share-farming.
How the programme helped:
"It's an opportunity to see things from a different angle - to think things through before jumping in with both feet."
Explore enterprise course – the business basics: This helped us to express our ideas and think about what is needed for a successful business. Doing the course and then working with an adviser often helped to see things from a different angle - to think things through before jumping in with both feet.
Business Advisors: My Business Advisor was Siobhan Stainton - she gave me a perspective on my ideas and helped to keep me right in developing a business plan.
The Loan: I used the training grant and a loan to buy a pick-up, plus sheep-handling and electronic ID equipment.
The mentoring: My mentor, Roger Brown, has kept me focussed on running my business and has helped me to make the most of opportunities.
Overcoming obstacles: Martin has constantly been busy with work and financially stretched to gradually build up his own flock, but has now stabilised the flock and getting a return on it.
What advice would we give to new entrants?
"Explore all the avenues and keep a level head to avoid wasting time. If you believe in what you do and are prepared to work hard, 99% of the time it will work out".