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Trading in the city life to buy a farm

Jamie Williams gave up a job in the city to become rear pigs, sheep and chickens

We spoke to Jamie Williams , the 34-year-old ex-chartered surveyor turned farmer about his business Locks Drove Farm in Andover, Hampshire.

Jamie on bringing transferable skills to farming...

I think it makes you quite powerful to move into a sector from another sector. I'm bringing business knowledge into a sector that's archetypally quite historic and people might be stuck in a rut with what they're doing and how they're marketing themselves.

I can see the benefits in that. And [I bring] decision-making, IT and technology skills which aren't necessarily used so much in agriculture. I can use business analysis models, which I was using every day in the property world, asI've bought well.

On the value of third-party advice...

Even if you work as part of a team, you're on your own when you run your own business. Third-party intervention is massively valuable.

I went away on a course last week which is designed to analyse your business, yourself - your strengths your weaknesses - and then put it into practice within a business context.

I was like a sponge for a week. I  learnt a massive amount about what I want to do and why I'm doing it. In life, and especially in business, you don't get a chance to think about that.

You don't stop. I'm working from 5am-9pm every day... When have I got the time to sit down and analyse last year?

On his plans for the future...

I want to develop my direct retail market and there is a plethora of people selling direct to the end user.

I'm not going to confine myself to my own produce. I thought it was a bit of a conflict initially but then I thought 'why restrict yourself to what you can grow?' If you trust another farmer, use his stuff as well.

The agricultural sector, it's a fickle market. There are people in and out of it the whole time. There are only two or three who've got into it and stayed in it. So I really researched them and fingers crossed I can become the next one.

A guy in Devon is going to grow some of my chickens for me. And I can use my ground, which is better suited to sheep.

And that only comes about from looking from the outside in, which I'm going to do every year. Not for a week necessarily, but for a few days, with a professional, whether it's an accountant, someone I trust or a family member.

To get away from the business and have a look at it from the outside in - because then you'll come back motivated for the next year and you'll have seen your mistakes and how to change them.

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Paulyne Antoniou

About the author

Paulyne as Head of Content has produced regular videos and editorial for many years with small businesses, franchises and industry professionals.


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