In my Facebook account, I try to post an inspirational message several times a week. Today I took a quote from one of my favorite dancers of all times! I had not seen this quote before, but it hit me like a ton of bricks today!!
“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to to dance better than myself.” Mikhail Baryshnikov
To me this quote means a lot !! Many folks look at some of the large or successful farms and want to compete with them. Many folks look at farms who have had breeding programs for the last 12-15 years and want to immediately have the success they are having. They are upset when they are beaten by one of these animals in the showring. While it is natural to compare yourself with the most successful of folks in your industry, it can be detrimental to your own success. You are not comparing apples to apples so to speak. If you have been in the alpaca business for less than 3 years, how do you think you can compete with the likes of folks that have been here 8, 12, 20 years? I say - unless you spend a ton of money and buy from established farms and buy these winning genetics, you need to look within your own herd and see what you need to do to improve! Get an outside breeding, skirt/sort your fleece and be honest if "fluffy" just isn't doing it for you. Breed for the show ring or breed for the fiber market - but have a GOAL.
I have been raising alpacas for 8 years. My breeding program has really been on track for about 5. I have enjoyed a lot of success in the show ring in recent years, but I did something different about 6 years ago - I decided to concentrate on the fiber!! I have 2 types of animals in my herd. Those that are destined for the show ring (merino type fiber) and those that are destined for the fiber market (silky type fiber). Sometimes the show ring animals make great yarn - sometimes they don't. My champion herdsire Sebastian took a First Place and Judge's chocice of the entire skein competition at MAPACA this year. That was QUITE an honor for me ! He is a dual purpose animal and that thrills me to no end. Not only is he a champ and get of sire winner, he can also make money off his originally intended purpose - yarn!! His yarn sells out quickly at all my events !! I have to actually hide skeins for myself !!
I have said before I have a background in economics and realized before the economy took a dump that the alpaca market would follow wall street and the housing market and the housing market showed signs of problems back in 2004 according to my analysis. I knew that in order to build a sustainable industry, we needed to work on fiber. I also knew that in order to continue to sell breeding stock, you also had to market and get into the ring with your progeny!! So I took a two pronged approach. Today I enjoy a thriving yarn and fiber business as well as selling breeding stock and the occasional fiber boy. I make my living off my animals and yarn business.
I empower each of you today to do something different than you did yesterday or last week, last month or last year!! Compete with yourself as the quote above states. Don't try to compete with others - you may not be on the same playing field!
For me - I have detailed records of what I sold last year in terms of fiber/yarn online, at certain events on and off the farm etc. I also keep detailed demographic records of my customers and any inquiries I get for animals. I look at what works, what doesn't and my marketing budget is tailored to the stuff that is working!
I set goals each quarter using S.M.A.R.T goals. I try to increase sales etc each day.
So - what are you going to do today? Spin some yarn? Learn to spin/sort/grade? Look at one of your alpaca's fiber with an objective eye and see where he/she fits into your program and the overall industry? I say do something today that will make you just a little bit better and more competitive than yesterday - and this builds on itself until you are the one that is envied in everything you do !!!