Let’s start from the start.
By God’s Grace, I started the farm as part of an extension for a bigger operation, and I wrote an article on the blog, sharing all the details about the dairy farm, reasons for starting it and the common pitfalls I encountered. A lot of people found that article helpful (that article has more than 500 comments!).
You know how I researched for months before starting the dairy farm, right? Me and my friend traveled thousands of kilometers – yes, thousands – within a week, all across Punjab, in search of teachers and mentors in the field of dairy farming. I was lucky to find them, and learn from them, for they were willing to teach.
From the start, I was told that dairy farming is not for the “urban dweller”. I was told that I needed to be at the farm all day for the farm to see any success. I met the 5-time Presedential award winner in Buffalo breeding, Mr Malik Hanif (yes, the President of Pakistan recognized not once, not twice, but five times the services of this individual) — and the first thing when I asked him, “how do you do what you do?”, he said, “because I love these animals.”
Searching for Systems
But I did not love the animals, I just wanted to understand the business, because I felt then what I know for a fact now:
“Systems are the only offset for passion”
I know and see the necessity of passion in one’s work. But the only offset that comes close to replacing one’s passion, is a good set of systems! Besides, passion is a dangerous word, and it has confused many people in selecting a career, including me.
I was adamant on running a farm based on systems instead of only “passion”. This in itself was a worthy lesson that I try to share as much as I can.
Also, I knew I won’t be able to compete with someone who “loves the animals” and lives on the farm (Malik Hanif practically does that)… but I also knew that if I could understand the processes behind a successful farm, I would inshAllah be able to replicate most of the successes too.
The Profitable Dairy Farm!
Three years later, with a small farm of 11 animals at the time, I was able to run a successful farm, that was producing enough milk to sustain itself and was on track to be profitable at the stipulated time (which was, in terms of dairy farming, five years from the time I started the farm!).
Even within the area, a lot of people would come and visit the farm to see the simplicity and the way animals were taken care of, in the least amount of money.
My farm was not the most expensive, but it was able to deliver the results in terms of animal care and milk production! Alhumdulillah!
I have always insisted that the main reason I was able to run a farm remotely and with such “tactical precision” was because of the wonderful person of Allahditta. He has been with me for almost 10 years now, and has always shown his integrity and sheer hard work time and time again. I never forget to thank God for blessing me with Allahditta as my employee, and a true friend!
Back to Where it Came From
The Reason I sold the farm was to settle a business debt from another business — the business of crop farming itself. If you recall, dairy farming was born out of my adventures into the crop farming business. It is apt, I guess, that it was “used up” by the same business as well.
I have never taken loans from banks, and have successfully been able to navigate though different small businesses without any form of interest-bearing financial loans. Alhumdulillah. I was careful with that form of blatant debt at all times, but I can now see that it was nothing more than my oversight in taking credit from vendors that eventually “caught up with the business”.
The agriculture and farming industry (and please note, that is basically 60% + of the GDP of the whole country of Pakistan) has been taking a bad, bad hit for the last 4 to 5 years. And because the revenues just dried up for everyone, I was unable to make payments. Lazy management was the eventual reason for the demise of the agriculture business, and it was then that I decided that I will remove myself from all debt to start afresh. By God’s Ultimate Grace, the vendors to whom I owed the money were more than understanding, and I was able to use the profitable, running concern (in the shape of the dairy farm) to get out of the whole thing.
(Not So) Easy!
Dairy farming has taught me a lot. For starters, it taught me that things take time! That is a very valuable lesson I kid you not! For someone like me, who wants to get the thing done yesterday (!!), dairy farming taught me to think in years instead of months. It made me more of a “long-term” thinker, instead of a “short-term” one. Alhumdulillah
It was a well-integrated project for me. Not only was it on track financially, it was also the subject of one of my books, the Dairy Farming Guide. The launch and the sale of the guide has allowed me to make friends all across the planet!
From Canada to the Middle East, from Nepal to Mozambique, and all across Pakistan, the sale of that small guide has allowed me to make some great friends!
Of course, the fact that I have sold the dairy farm, now gives me a “wholesome” view of the dairy farming business, and I am now contemplating adding two more sections to the dairy farming guide, and keep it on the market.
Selling a running concern is never easy. Selling something that you use as a “case study” to teach people about running businesses, it becomes harder still. And then most importantly, knowing that you won’t be interacting with the same people, the same village environment as often, that you miss the most. So selling the dairy farm was not easy for me. But it seems that the dairy farm still had one lesson to teach me: that of letting go! 🙂
By selling the farm, a lot of pressure was taken off and I was clear from all business debt, which for me is the biggest relief! By God’s Ultimate Grace, I can now focus solely on running the ProHobbyist, Blogstarta and the AddVenturer movements! (As the superhero announces: ”I don’t want to start businesses anymore, I want to start movements.” )
Of the 15 projects mentioned in this article, I have yet to include dairy farming in that list! 🙂