• T.R. Hutchinson-Owner Operator

The Journey So Far

2020 was a ravaging year. This post is about our journey so far and trying to launch our business. We're going to get a little personal here, but this is what we've been through, bear with me.

In November 2019 I decided to chase my passion for bees and beekeeping by launching my own company that would focus on raising, breeding and selling queen honey bees. Later we would produce bee packages and nucleus colonies for sale as well. With beekeeping equipment manufacturing coming online later.

The original business plan that I wrote was very ambitious. Grand scale dreaming that required hundreds of thousands of dollars and acres of land. I knew it wasn't achievable but it's the overall goal.

And starting a business I looked for resources to help us get started. I began at the Small Business Development Center at USU in Brigham City. Through the sbdc we got a mentor who has helped us astronomically.

We worked on our business plan for a couple months and developed it to a point where we are going to open in stages. Business plan is very professionally done and conservative in its time, estimates and growth projections.

As I was doing this I was working for a company in Brigham, I started working at the same time for the United States Census Bureau as a Census Field Supervisor.

At the onset of covid hours were reduced at my primary job to the point where I wasn't there since I had another job and my boss utilized that to give other people hours.

Then the census took a dip and we were in a hold pattern for over a month. After that month was over hours were extremely limited in my area because I'm rural. We were beginning to struggle financially. Money I had saved for the business evaporated as we struggle to make payments. We eventually lost our car insurance, we had to get rid of our Netflix. And with no more hours coming from the Census, or if you rather my one hour a month from meetings I decided to resign in August 2020.

My grandmother got sick in April. After a trip to the hospital and 3 days there she came home on a hospice. My time from April into late May was diverted and given to my grandmother. I'm grateful that I had the time to give her. And the time that I gave her was the last on Earth that I'll ever have with her. She passed away in an early morning hours of late May.

She was a very big part of my life in a huge supporter of everything I sought to accomplish. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her. She is deeply loved and sorely missed.

After she passed we continue to try and get back to work to try and raise the funds to open our business. We need a total of $10,000 to open. We had set subsequent launch dates. And blew past them after our GoFundMe failed, again and again. Facebook for us has not been a successful platform in sharing our GoFundMe.

Even now at the current time when we have 18 days to raise the funds so that we can match a grant that we've applied for on January 28th that will double anything we have to meet our goal. $5,000 is the current mark, the grant will double us to $10,000 if we are successful in raising the $5,000.

All the money raised goes to paying for equipment and initial supplies to produce wooden ware beekeeping equipment. And we've been trying for the past year of 2020 to raise enough capital to launch this business.

But how do you divert money when you're struggling to make an income. The census was a failed job for me after the onset of covid. Subsequently I lost my job at my primary employer because of a lack of work.

I struggled to find work and still continue to struggle as the impact hits rural areas hardest. It was so bad in our house that we were without car insurance for months. Our children almost did not have a Christmas, if it weren't for my wife's plea of help on Facebook in a group and the overwhelming generosity of others to ensure that our children had a Christmas. It broke my heart this past holiday that I did not purchase one single thing for my children.

As the stimulus was being talked about we were excited that we might be able to use those funds to open. A dead oven changed that outcome. The money instead went to paying the car insurance and buying a brand new oven for the house, only for the microwave to die 3 days later after the purchase.

We continue to share our GoFundMe and work with the Small Business Development Center to try and get this off the ground. But we only have 18 days before the deadline for the grant. At the time of this writing we have 18 days to raise the remainder of $4,935. Some friends have put money in to amount to $65. And we are extremely grateful for that help.

My family is at a crossroads with this business. We've been trying for over a year, I'm still looking for work, and a job takes priority to pay the bills. A new job will not provide enough to pay the bills for a family of seven and set money aside to launch a business.

It will take years to save enough money. My average income per year is $12,000. I can't logically or reasonably set aside 5,000 or 10,000 of that to launch a business.

We tried Angel investors, but did not want to relinquish half of our company to an investor when this is supposed to be a family owned and operated business.

We would have tried for a loan, but we have no collateral and I have outstanding student loans.

My wife and I have been desperate to try and get this business off the ground. Enough to think of other ways to try and raise the funds. My wife tried doing paintings to sell, as painting is her hobby, but with no funds to buy supplies, there are no paintings to sell. We've even discussed standing on the corner with a sign about our GoFundMe.

We launched the website early in 2020 and had good results for almost 6 months of people visiting, and asking when we would be open. Many people in 2020 were looking for supplies when other companies were struggling to get out orders as covid had an impact on the economy. For us it would have been the perfect time to open because our rural area still had plenty of supplies to manufacture the equipment.

Sadly we could not raise funds to do it. We were able to maintain our website through 2020 because of its extreme low-cost per month. The cost was so low because our store was not yet active which would have raised us to a higher monthly cost.

As it stands now our GoFundMe is still active with a goal of $5,000. Our friends have chipped in $65 together. And we have just 18 days before that Grant needs to be finalized to double anything that we have.

Through a painful discussion with my wife and other family members who are also hoping to work in this business, we have decided regrettably that if we cannot meet our goal in the next 18 days, we most likely never will. And once this grant closes it will not open again for another year. Which would leave us having to raise the full $10,000 on our own.

Because of the needs of five children and a household we've decided that if we miss our goal that we will take down our website and pin our hopes on a future opening on a single lottery ticket that we purchased with Christmas money from my grandfather. That ticket expires in February.

We are extremely grateful, thankful and have the deepest gratitude for everyone that has supported us this far. This venture cannot be done alone. I do not have the friends and family that share this passion deep enough to push our fundraiser everyday and encourage others to share. When they share they do it about once a week and they don't say anything about it they just share the fundraiser so it pops up on other people's feeds as just the fundraiser with no words above it.

In a way this is a lack of marketing. When others see a fundraiser come up they don't necessarily look at it if the person sharing it hasn't said anything. This has been a detriment to our efforts.

I don't know at this time if this will be my final post. But I'm desperately hanging on by my fingernails for the next 18 days. I continue to work with the Small Business Development Center and have three meetings in the next week.

My greatest hope and wish is that we pull off a miracle. My grandmother wanted to see me make a success, and have me working for myself. Has she lie on her bed at home on hospice, we would talk about how things were going. And even though things were starting to be at their worst she continued to show me and praise me in confidence that I could accomplish this. And while it may not be right to think it or feel it, I feel that if I fail at this, that I failed her last wishes for me. Even though I know that the only thing that she can truly be proud of is if I take care of my family. Wishes are fantastic things, but the reality is we succeed when we take care of those we are responsible for.

However, I cannot help but feel as if I failed her. After all the things that we've talked about in those last days, I long to make a success of this so that I can look up and tell her I did it, and that I didn't do it alone, I did it with the help, love and support of my family, friends, Community and strangers who read our story and found it in their hearts to give us a helping hand.

We remain hopeful and resolute and seeing this through to whatever end. We would be overjoyed to see this as a success, and disappointed and full of sorrow upon our failure. For if we fail it is not the failure of our friends, family or community, it is ours and ours alone.

We thank everyone for their support, well wishes and donations made. We also thank the Small Business Development Center for helping us devise a much better business plan, realistic goals and stages of development.

This is the closest we've ever been to owning a business, to work for ourselves, and build something that feeds our passions for beekeeping, farming and ranching, and to be a part of something that resonates with the soul. Thank you all for taking the time to read our journey so far, I hope that it has not been depressing, but rather enlightening.

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