Mail order seed company, Kings Seeds in Katakati have just celebrated 40 years in business so we thought it’s the perfect time to get in touch and find out what makes this successful business thrive. We caught up with Barbara who has owned Kings Seeds with husband Gerard since 1999 to dig a bit deeper (no pun intended!) and share some well earned wisdom with our business community.
Top 3 business standout moments?
First one that comes to mind is going online with our successful e-commerce store in 2008. We’d tried back in 2004 but our second attempt in 2008 was when our interactive website became a fantastic sales generating tool and we haven’t looked back since.
The second stand out that comes to mind is gaining our organic certification in 2014. We’d been selling organic seeds since 2000 but getting our organic certification stamp of approval was a very proud moment.
Last but not least is when we bought a separate property for the business in 2010. Prior to that we had always shared our residential space with our work space so it was nice to finally separate the two.
Top challenges & learning curves?
We were pretty much thrown in the deep end right from the beginning and even though Gerard had a fair amount of good growing knowledge and experience neither of us had first hand knowledge of the 1000 or so varieties that featured in the catalogue even then. Thankfully the catalogue was our “bible” in the beginning and lots of updates later, remains so to this day. Another challenge, as many in and around the agricultural field will understand, is the ever changing world of MPI regulations and compliance. It never ends to be fair.
In the beginning Gerard found all the red tape extremely frustrating around the import of seeds etc but we quickly learnt you have to just accept that’s the way it is and work with it.
We’ve always wanted to be leaders, not followers, in the sense of sourcing new varieties of seeds and keeping up with the trends but with so much compliance it’s an ongoing challenge but I think we’re a lot more used to that now!
Best advice you’ve received?
To not jump on the technology bandwagon too quickly. This was from my brother-in-law and it’s some of the best advice we ever received. Basically work out what you really need first before spending a lot of money on what you think you need in terms of technology.
What advice would you give someone going into their own business?
Give it a go! Neither Gerard or I had any business background and we’ve done it. Another key piece of advice is ask for help when you need it. You can’t be experts at everything so there’s no point trying to muddle through.
What services and support have you received from Grace Team?
Grace Team Accounting have been our accountants from the beginning so Lindsay has been with us since the get go. Besides the normal accounting services we receive, more recently we’ve been working with Michael in a business coaching capacity.
It’s great to have a fresh pair of eyes helping us with the next stage around our business goals. Being held accountable and keeping us on track with actions and goals is a huge advantage we find engaging with a coach. At the stage where we’re at now it’s nice to work with someone who can bring different ideas to the table to help us with the next phase. What a relief!