It's all fun and games until numbers get involved. So far we've dreamt up a gorgeous life for ourselves and we've figured out how much that gorgeous life is going to cost us. We have also thought up what our ideal farm looks like and why, and all those warm and fuzzies should be floating around inside all of us, waiting to motivate us to make it happen. Before we get going here, I want you to hold onto that feeling. This step is not about looking longingly at those goals as we progressively squash them to pieces under the weight of seed costs, limited markets, and employee wages. Instead this step is about fighting for our dream life and thinking creatively about our businesses until they mold themselves into and around our hopes for the future. Let's try to take that conventional doom and gloom feeling around the term "budgeting", and morph it into a tool like any other. It's not here to bite you, your budget is here to help you. I promise.
I started writing about Hippo Camp as a way to share our annual business review. As I've talked with farmers who are following along with Hippo Camp I've realized that for many people an annual review is a brand new exercise. (So exciting!) This process has been an essential piece of Jake's and my business, and acts as an annual check-in to see where we're at. However, that implies that we're checking in based on something that was previously defined. I feel I've done some of you a disservice in that I haven't shared more about the role of Hippo Camp in relation to our bigger goals, so let's get to that today.
This step is super simple, and super fun. Or should be anyway. In this step we're going to make a wish list for your coming season. You're going to write down every infrastructure, equipment, and tool investment that will help you address your Disappointments, and help you reach your Goals.
If you've read the intro to Step 4, you know I'm passionate about personal budgets. Which means that even though I'm not looking over your shoulder, I want you to imagine that I AM looking over your shoulder. I want you to take this step dangerously seriously. I want you to understand your finances, look your student loans in the eye, and tell the world how much money you spend on streaming subscriptions, or fancy chocolate bars, or that gym that you keep meaning to go to. I don't want you to stop buying that chocolate, but I do want to make sure you know how much money it costs, and I want you to decide if that's what you want to be spending your money on. Ready? Let's do it.
Step 4 of Hippo Camp is all about taking care of you, financially. That means we're going to figure out how much money you need to live on, then we're going to figure out how much money you're going to need to make this year to run your business plus achieve those big, beautiful, achievable goals you set in Step 3.
I, like many people (maybe most people) have a strained relationship with money. In our first few years of farming we were working full-time on the farm (about 40 hours) plus 1-3 off-farm jobs up to 20 hours per week. I felt sick to my stomach every time the 10th of the month rolled around (my credit card payment date) because I never knew what the amount was going to be, but it was usually more than I had in my bank account. I felt like I had no control over my money. It felt like I just needed to work MORE, because more work meant more money, and what I needed was more money...right?
Taylor Mendell. I grow things for people to eat.