For the past 10 years, Chris Williamson of Mesa, Arizona has been a casual farmer. Instead of farming as a profession, Williamson grew and donated fresh produce to cancer patients and the terminally ill just for the benefit of eating fresh food and the good feeling that comes from giving back to the community. In December of 2014, Williamson formally established Webster Willeford Farms, LLC with his wife and business partner, Jessica. The couple performs charitable work under a separate entity, as well as a for-profit daycare with a fun farm theme.
“My wife started a daycare a few years ago, and it has really taken off. Last year, our charity dropped off 700 pounds of food, and my goal for this year is 2,000 pounds. So the business started with one idea and expanded to a daycare from there,” Williamson says of Webster Willeford Farms’ origins.
The couple originally built up a daycare client base by advertising their small business on Craigslist, but it didn’t take long for word about the farm-themed daycare to get around.
“Since making the initial posts on Craigslist, our clients have all heard about us through word-of-mouth. People go nuts over the farm theme and the animals. There are a lot of outdoor activities for the kids. We have the kids help us in a fun way so they all get to go around and help prepare the food that we all eat,” he explains of a typical day at Webster Willeford Farms.
Williamson believes that the relevance of Webster Willeford Farms — and the growing demand for fresh food — will keep the small business afloat.
“I think that it’s really where the culture of America is going. Our daycare moms choose us because they want their children to eat organic,” he says.
The entrepreneur loves that he has built a small business for his family that gets him outdoors and helps to get the word out about the importance of healthy living. Most importantly, small business ownership has felt like more of a lifestyle than work for him.
“I really enjoy it because it absolutely does not feel like work at all. I love every second of it. It’s what I do for fun. I feel like I’m on vacation every day,” he enthuses.
Because of the demographic of the small business – millennial moms anywhere from 20-30 – the farm hasn’t had any trouble staying constantly busy. Millennial moms place more of an emphasis on healthy living and want to expose their children to a healthy lifestyle from an early age. The children at the Webster Willeford Farms range from ages 2-4.
“We have a lot of daycare competition, but we have never been affected by it because our demand is so constant,” Williamson says. “We’re a cut above the other daycares, so we haven’t really been affected by the competition.”
Just because business is going smoothly at Webster Willeford Farms doesn’t mean the Williamsons haven’t run into their fair share of challenges.
“We’ve faced a lot of challenges, especially financially. We struggled with farm problems like diseased animals or crops and insect infestations. There has been a lot of trial and error and lots of hot summers in the Arizona sun. We’ve been developing our own fertilizer formula and organic sprays,” he confides. “There is a constant thought of having to maintain a business.”
For entrepreneurs looking to achieve startup success, Williamson offers the following advice.
“Don’t give up because it’s pretty easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed. Stay persistent and work one day at a time,” he urges. “The advantages are that you definitely have a lot of freedom. You don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder.”
Chris Williamson is a satisfied client of 1-800Accountant. He is currently receiving assistance in the form of tax consulting.
Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog post were provided by Webster Willeford Farms, LLC and are used with permission.