For many people, earning a six-figure income seems like a distant dream. But for 61-year-old Mary Ann Fordyce, hard-work and a few pet chickens made this dream a reality. We got the chance to talk to Mary Ann, CEO of Blue Star Ranch, to learn more about what it takes to run a successful business.
What makes your chickens special?
I make sure to get the best chicks and best breeds from hatcheries. Not all hatcheries are made equal, nor are chicken breeds. I buy some breeds here and some breeds there. Plus we only sell the top 80% to 90% of chickens. There are some chicks that do not meet our standards for quality (i.e. they have genetic defects) and these chicks are not sold by Blue Star Ranch. We ensure to only sell the best breeds and the best quality chicks, which are not GMO fed.
Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?
Oh YES! In my book “Six Chickens to Six Figures”, I talk about how growing up I learned a lot from my parents, who were sales professionals. My father was a travelling salesman and my mother was the Avon and Amway lady. We would often take family trips in our station wagon delivering products to customers. At the tender age of 8 I learned how to speak to customers, provide receipts and handle inventory!
You can get this book from Amazon here
My parents were always at the top of their game, and they taught me a lot of old school sales tactics that not many people know about today. From there, I learned a lot just by travelling along life’s rocky path. And I had always wanted to be a farmer, so I knew that would happen someday.
What are the biggest challenges involved in running a business?
Once the business is set up, logistics and operations are pretty easy to deal with. However, as much as I love dealing with customers, customer service isn’t always easy! The hardest people to work with are those who believe they know everything and are not open to learning new information. Some people even come in with “test” questions in which they try to trip me up – which doesn’t work, by the way! I find dealing with whiney, demanding or angry customers to be a challenge.
Some people try to barter with me, saying they have seen other businesses offering chicks at lower prices. I have to explain to them that Blue Star Ranch chicks are different – they are paying a small premium for quality. And finally, customers who don’t follow my advice on raising chickens and then try to discredit me on social media is a real bummer. So please, be kind and respectful of small business owners! We’re here to make an honest living and support our customers in a fair way.
I have also found that finding a good handyman is really difficult now compared to how it used to be. A lot of people nowadays have a poor work ethic, charging hourly rates and slacking off on the job – charging you more for a bad result. I have learned to pay labour by the job rather than the hour, and to get professionals to text me in writing the job time frame and the exact things they will do.
If the finished job does not match what they have said they will do in their text, they will have to come back to complete the job properly. Do not accept shoddy workmanship! Do not pay for partial work or pay money upfront ever – this will save you a lot of time and money.
What is your favourite piece of advice to give to aspiring business owners?
Life really is what you make it. Visualise your ideal life and write down your plan to make it happen. And remember – your thoughts create your words, and your words create your actions. So for example, when I was a small company, I kept telling customers that our chickens were selling out fast, and that we couldn’t keep up with demand – and it came true! My company grew and grew. So today, Blue Star Ranch actually has 7 affiliate farms to assist us growing chickens during the busy season, because of supply and demand for pet chickens for backyard hobbyists. Also, I live with the belief that karma is real – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “treat others well” are my mottos.
How has technology helped you with Blue Star Ranch?
I don’t use a lot of advanced technology at Blue Star Ranch – electricity and running water get me by just fine. However, GPS and the internet have helped business by making it easier for customers to find and locate us. Cell phones make it easier to get in contact with customers, too – texting is so easy!
Regarding spending time on social media, I try to avoid this as much as I can – as well as avoiding TV – and prefer to live in reality. I spend quite a bit of time meditating and ensure to use my time wisely. We all have the same 24 hours in a day; it’s how we use these hours that counts. People don’t get rich by watching TV or making excuses for not trying. While of course life needs balance, and it’s healthy to socialise and watch a movie every now and then, it’s important to stay on track with your goals. But yes, I do use technology when needed; otherwise I prefer simple methods to accomplish my goals.
Thank you Mary Ann for your time; it’s so inspiring to know that starting up your own business – chicken farm or otherwise – is completely possible if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
You can follow up with Mary Ann Fordyce at:
Get a Book from: https://www.amazon.com/Six-Chickens-Figures-Requires-Eggciting/dp/1678587419/