ANYONE can be an entrepreneur regardless of their starting point, according to a panel of successful business figures brought together by the Future Farmers of Yorkshire.
The Yorkshire Agricultural Society-backed farming network took its annual Autumn Debate online for the first time and delivered valuable messages of inspiration and frank advice to an audience of nearly 200 younger farmers, vets and industry professionals.
It offered ‘Top tips for keeping an entrepreneurial mindset’ ahead of a period of great change for British agriculture.
Brexit policies and trade decisions, as financial support for the industry is overhauled, puts emerging generations of rural professionals at the forefront of finding ways to forge vibrant business futures in the countryside.
The Future Farmers’ Autumn Debate was streamed live thanks to sponsorship and support from Yorkshire Bank, GSC Grays and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.
Panellist, Victoria Robertshaw, founder of Keelham Farm Shop shared lessons from her experiences, having worked alongside her brother James to develop Keelham Farm Shop on the family’s farm in Thornton, Bradford and on a new site in Skipton.
Having established the Keelham brand, the business now generates £10m in annual sales, supports more than 450 Yorkshire farmers and producers and has created 160 jobs.
Now at the helm of Delicious Planet Consultancy, Victoria, whose early career in accountancy took her to London and roles with Dixons Retail and Freeserve, said entrepreneurs need to be brave and stick to their principles.
Victoria said: “You have to be prepared to take risks and do things you believe in. That takes a bit of courage sometimes.
“I was told you couldn’t build a shop that had windows in because food and light don’t go together, and you had to have aisles that are up and down because that’s the way people like to shop. We broke the rules and it worked.” Charlotte Middlebrook, a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire management board who chaired the debate, said: “We hope our speakers have inspired the next generation of entrepreneurs to look for their own opportunities. Anyone can be an entrepreneur, no matter what your starting point is.”
To catch up on the Autumn Debate, watch the recording at yas.co.uk/future-farmers-autumn-debate