Can you really do this?

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Making jam at home
Making jam at home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people see other people doing business and say to themselves “I can do that”. It may work for a handful of people but to grow a business beyond a certain scale takes more than just the desire.

The consequences can be disastrous. I’m reminded of Catherine Tate, the “I can do that” woman. If you’ve seen any of her television skits, you will know that when she says “I can do that” and tries to do whatever she sees, it turns out into hilarious disaster. It’s fun to buckle over with her slapstick brand of humour and irreverence but in the real world of small business you will end up choking on your laughter.

You see bottles of preserves at farm markets, Saturday morning markets, fruit and vegetable outlets and even fresh fish shops. So many people are into making preserves beyond what they make for home use for the family. The sheer scale of producing more than 100 bottles of preserves can be daunting when you think of the amount of ingredients involved, labour, time and effort. Making 10 or so bottles of preserves is a feat that most people can accomplish in their kitchen and enjoy the benefits of making something of their own with real fruit and ingredients.

A small news item in the Farmers Weekly tells of a woman, Ina Lessing from the Limpopo province who was named the agricultural woman entrepreneur of the year for 2014, an award run by a financial institution. Lessing bottles about 166,000 bottles of preserves and canned products valued at about R4, 2 million a year. She distributes her products throughout South Africa. One of the features of this independent producer’s preserved fruit products is that they do not have brand name and are identified only by their golden label. Lessing has been running her business for 17 years.

This business is termed as a “small business” but for any entrepreneur it would be a major undertaking. It requires coming up with a viable business model, dealing with production challenges and labour issues. A food business also has its challenges in that the business needs to adhere to health regulations.

For those entrepreneurs who have a clear vision, iron-clad perseverance and patience, when they say, “I can do that” even they can believe themselves that they will build the business and get the job done.

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