ISSUE # 14 page 3 FEBRUARY 1998
1. dead coral heads from lost shipment that died in the UPS twilight zone.
2. 18 small frags of the Green Slimer aka. BALI staghorn Acropora.
3. one tube Super Reef Glue
We started this project by gluing several of the deads sps coral heads together to form a nice stable structure. We glued the first few coral heads together outside of the reef and then we placed the structure in the aquaruim.
We removed the frags of the Green Slimer from a colony at the other end of the aquarium. The frags were then glued to the ends of the coral branches underwater by applying a small ball of glue to the frag. We then pushed the frag against the coral head and rotated it until we could feel the glue start to attach - 10 seconds.
The frags we used on this coral tree are much larger than the ones we have used before. Frags about 1/2 inch long will work very well.We chose the Green Slimer and used the larger frags so we could follow the progress this coral tree makes during the next year.
The coral frags will first start growing down onto the branches until they have covered a large portion of the dead coral. The new growth will then start replacing polyps with branches. As the coral tips start to branch they will grow into each other. Because all of the frags came from the same colony, the branches will soon grow together. We have placed several small frags at each place where the dead coral was glued together. These frags will bridge the joints with living coral tissue and the structure will become very strong.
The first advantage we had from using this method is that we were able to use the Acropora heads that died because of UPS. I hate to waste anything that can be used to produce a captive reef. These coral heads were grown By Larry Jackson in Texas, and we were sick when UPS lost them.
The next advantage is that the frags will soon look like a large, old head of coral. This colony will be worth $400.00+ in a few months. This is a great way to produce show corals for rental aquariums.
The corals tend to do very well when they are mounted this way because they are able to get water flow from all directions. Nature never tends to repeat accidents and the shape of coral heads have evolved as the perfect structure for each polyp to grow in the best most productive way.
If you have some old dry coral this is a great way to use them. You can NOT bring them back to life - but this is the next best thing.
Please watch this feature for updates on how the coral tree is doing.
This whole idea of a Business Plan is far more than a way for you to
secure loans from lenders, although it can do that, but much more
importantly it sets a STRATEGY within which you will set up and operate
your business. Your STRATEGY and your BUSINESS PLAN will be involved
with the following areas, and many others:|
I call these 'The Laws for Small Business Success"
1. Have fun!!!!!
Most of these I will touch on as we go along in the discussion. Going back to our first list of area to become aware of and to incorporate into your Business Strategy, and your Business Plan I will begin with the number one area, your overall Strategy.
Strategy includes your personal ideas for pursuing your objectives, it includes your Business Plan your buying and selling strategy and your total sales and marketing plan. Without any of these thought out ahead you cannot succeed, you MUST know how to pursue and to accomplish each one of these areas. Strategy includes your total operations, manufacture, production, inventory and sales, and follow-up on sales.
Marketing includes how you are going to position yourself within your chosen market, who that market is and how you are going to reach them, planning any publicity and advertising, mailers, internet approaches, your Point of Sales, Trade Shows and your competition. and much, much more.
Sales includes your choices, who you sell to and how do you sell to them, Face to Face, Telemarketing,Internet, Yellow Pages, all are good choices for a Reef Propagation Enterprise and are ones that you need to look into and chose one or more. Few operations are going to be able to use all in the beginning, or even later.
Advertising includes your Media Choices, Direct Mailing, Yellow Pages, Internet, Trade Magazines.
People is your leadership people of your company, and any employees, their backgrounds and suitability to this type of enterprise, and their ability to do what their job description entails, and the size of the work force.
Money includes how to get it, your accounting, projections for using it, credit, purchasing, taxes, handling money problems, and retaining it.
Legal includes the legal structure that you chose to operate under, Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, S Corporation or full Corporation, business practices including fair selling and claims, and tax obligations.
Office includes how you plan on handling the 'paper work', whether a home or separate office, time management, customer service and contact, and time management and time management and time management
. Other then negative cash flow Time Management is the singles biggest cruncher of Small Businesses, not structuring your time properly, you MUST deal with the important things first, prioritize things, and then let nothing slide.
Operations includes how you function daily, working to a schedule towards a weekly workload accomplishment. Every day cannot be exactly like the day before or the day after, you must set a goal to accomplish for that week, if it is to sell 10 boxes of corals a week then you must make provision to make the cuttings to place on rocks, grow the cuttings out, make or acquire the rocks, care for the brood stock, order operating supplies, make sales,take orders, contacting customers. do daily maintenance of your facility and the livestock, and a myriad of other activities, without a weekly workload schedule and structure you cannot succeed in a full time business, you MUST have a work schedule, and stick to as best as you can.
This is why I stated above in 'The Laws', that you must make HAVING FUN an integral part of your Business Strategy, without that it will wear you down and make your dream into a drudge. Stop and smell the roses as you go along, planning your activities and structuring your weeks' work will let you enjoy those new xenia and star colonies.
If this is not fun for you do not do it!!! Find something else that you enjoy doing, as I said last month, this kind of farming, and farming it is requires you to have a PASSION for it, if you don't have a PASSION for it, find something else to do for a living.
You will not get rich in propagating reef animals. The best way that I know to make a small fortune in this is to start with a large fortune. BUT, it is possible to make a good living and to enjoy yourself along the way, if you do that you are way ahead of most of the worlds' population and are blessed among all mankind.
Exercise reasonable judgment, plan your actions and proceed carefully and step by step and you will enjoy yourself, and make a good living for you and your family. And, you will be taking pressure off of the worlds' reefs with every coral that you have raised yourself and sold. Such a deal! Making a living and helping the environment to survive! Few people in our troubled world can lay claim to this. Think about it.
The actual BUSINESS PLAN is a pretty straight forward document that structures your BUSINESS STRATEGY and PLANS into a simple readable format.
Planning, researching, and writing a BUSINESS PLAN is an exercise that will structure your own thoughts and plans into a format that will enable you to succeed. I am not going to be discussing making cuttings, making rocks, caring for brood stock, or anything else related to the mechanics of dealing with reef animals in this discussion, what it is going to do is to show you how to organize yourself, your thoughts, actions and resources into a BUSINESS OPERATING STRATEGY that will enable you to make a living for yourself in your own REEF PROPAGATION ENTERPRISE.
Every marine hatchery, or similar enterprise that has failed in the last twenty years has been in violation of the things I have discussed so far and am going to further discuss in this. Think about that. And, every one that exists and is staying in business is doing so because they are accomplishing what I am discussing here. There is no 'magic wand' to success in business, just following, or violating, the basics of business life is what makes what happen to happen. You either make enough income to remain solvent, pay your bills, and return an adequate income for you, or you do not, it all depends on whether you follow these basic precepts. or, are independently wealthy and can spend whatever you want, in which case this is all irrelevant to you. If you are not wealthy then what I discuss here is relevant to your starting and remaining in your own business.
The BUSINESS PLAN is divided into 15-18 separate discussion areas, based on which format you elect to use. I am going to use a 'condensation' of my own, which is about 32 pages long. Each separate area should be discussed in your plan enough for a reader to understand what you are talking about, but most importantly, so that YOU know thoroughly that area and know how you are going to deal with it before you have to deal with it.
I have condensed mine to provide a sample for you to understand what is included and which you can use to adapt one for yourself from. Just remember that each category needs a thorough explanation of the category and the realities of it and how you will deal with them. Good Business Plans can be as little as 8-10 pages, and much longer then mine for many enterprises. It all depends on the requirements of the Business Enterprise.
There is an old cliche that says " Failure to plan is planning to fail ". That is why we have BUSINESS PLANS, so that we will not fail.
Typically, once written, a BUSINESS PLAN would be kept in a binder, or folder, it should be the plan that you envision for your company for the next 3-5 years of the business life. If, you intend to look for outside financing then the BUSINESS PLAN would be an integral part of your loan application, and for a Small Business Administration(SBA) Loan it is a requirement. Once written it does not get put on a shelf, it is used and all of your business decisions should be made in accordance with it, or it should be rewritten. If, you write a business plan, then put it 'on the shelf' and ignore it, you are in all likelihood going to be in another line of business in a year or so. If you do not follow a sound BUSINESS PLAN you will not be in business for very long.
I spent almost a month putting my plan together, researching the various areas, and figuring out how I was going to deal with each of the various areas, I began it last spring, and it is very close now to my original plan as I have stuck with it and followed it. By formulating my plan I set myself a plan that I knew that I could follow and was doable for me with my interests and capabilities. It is useless to formulate a plan that you cannot follow, that is a recipe for disaster. Be honest with yourself about your interests, skills and capabilities, and weaknesses, and you will write a BUSINESS PLAN for YOU that will enable you to be successful. Take it to an expert that you trust and discuss it with them, I would suggest a lawyer or Certified Public Accountant (CPA). If your expert advisor has a good picture of your Business Plan from what you have written then you have laid it out well, but, do not get discouraged if they point out problem areas or weaknesses, that is what you are going to them for, to get a good critique of your plan and areas where you need to improve it. The BUSINESS PLAN is an organized step by step vision of your enterprise, go at it this way and you will succeed.
My plan follows, abridged and condensed. I have not included the financial forms towards the end as they do not transmit well by Email, refer to previous articles in this series for this information and how to configure it.
SUMMARY AND SAMPLE PLAN
YOUR COMPANY is a Sole Proprietorship, later to be a Chapter S Corporation
founded to engage in the captive breeding and propagation of marine reef
animals for sale to marine aquaria dealers. The products consist of
marine reef fish, corals and invertebrates currently primarily imported
from existing wild tropical reefs. The product mix consists of about two
dozen species currently under propagation and others to be added for a
solid core mix of attractive products to the marine dealers and their
customers. YOUR COMPANY operates as a wholesaler/distributor to stores and
does not engage in retail operations.
YOUR COMPANY will focus on the propagation of those reef animals that make the bulk of retail sales in Corals, Invertebrates and Fish for the Marine Keeping Hobby. Through focusing on a particular market segment and utilizing the advantages of local propagation YOUR COMPANY will enable its targeted market segment to supply their customers without adversely impacting on the wild REEF ENVIRONMENT by taking organisms from the wild reef through destructive collecting practices. Captive bred populations of reef organisms have been shown to be hardier, better equipped to survive and breed under captive aquaria conditions and enjoy longer life spans in captivity then wild caught specimens. YOUR COMPANY will capitalize on the state of the art COMMERCIAL AQUACULTURE TECHNIQUES to propagate their products. Additionally, a localized targeted market segment will profit from one- on- one regular contact with YOUR COMPANY to receive regular servicing of their accounts on an individual basis. Local propagation of the products will enable the products to be marketed at a competitive basis to wild caught specimens. Individual delivery to the stores, or store pickup of the products will insure personal service and control over their products by the stores. Individual and personal service will ensure customer satisfaction with products and service.
At present within the industry most MARINE REEF CREATURES are captured from wild reefs, through often destructive actions against the reefs or fatal injury of the specimens, then shipped through several handlers to their ultimate destination of the retailers and from there to the aquarists. YOUR COMPANY will provide specimens that have only a transfer from their rearing tanks to the retailers in place of the multiple environments the specimens are currently exposed to and shuffled through to their detriment. Market Research indicates that the MARINE REEF HOBBY is growing exponentially and has extensive growth within the last twenty years. Currently three major magazines cater to the hobby plus a wide publishing industry with regularly introduced new entries in the genre. Nationwide in the USA over 2 Billion dollars is spent yearly on the pet trade and the REEF HOBBY is growing rapidly within the industry. Within the upstate NY area there are currently over 60 active pet shops, 2/3rds of which maintain marine sales. YOUR COMPANY is privately financed without outside funding on a 'grow as we go' philosophy to minimize debt load.
Th e Market Area targeted is primarily in the upstate NY area within an 80 mile radius of Nunda which includes the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, and Corning and a total population of over two million plus additional access to another million within the Syracuse area, another fifty miles away. Additionally, national exposure is possible through Internet Web sites and trade magazine advertising. It is anticipated that 80 percent of YOUR COMPANY sales will be through the local targeted market. A percentage of that will be realized through discounted sales to dealers who elect to drive in and pick out their own selections.
Currently the Retail stores within the targeted area are of three types, sole proprietorships, multi-store mini-chains within a local area, and national based chain stores usually situated within malls. A few of the sole proprietorships are also incorporated but are free-standing stores with owner/operators. The targeted market is the owner/operated stores and the local multi-store operations. Most of the national chains have little or no MARINE PRODUCTS or the personnel with sufficient expertise to maintain them in a quality manner and expect or demand unfavorable credit policies with slow payment of deliveries.
In the last twenty years the growth of the aquarium hobby has exceeded that of any other hobby within the pet trade. Twenty years ago the expected population to maintain a pet store was expected to be at least a population of 50,000 within driving distance, now we find communities of less then 20,000 with two operating pet stores. The presence of MARINE FISH & INVERTEBRATES in these stores has expanded from 10% of revenue to over 40% of store revenue in that time. Many current pet stores are MARINE only and carry no other pet products. Disposable income for retail customers has increased within the last two decades and is expected to increase further facilitating the entry of new consumers into the MARINE HOBBY. YOUR COMPANY is positioned to be advantageously situated to supply the growing needs of MARINE RETAILERS within the targeted market area.
There are two wholesalers / distributors with in the upstate target area, but provide half to less of most retailers needs . Many Retailers currently import most of their MARINE SPECIMENS themselves and have to deal with airline problems and high shipping costs to receive their products. Neither wholesaler currently provides captive bred organisms on any kind of regular basis. Target stores surveyed expressed an openness to local bred and raised products above imported wild caught specimens. Survivability and lower mortality with local bred specimens will enhance this openness to a strong demand. Ultimately with increasing CORAL REEF COLLECTING RESTRICTIONS demand for captive bred specimens will far exceed the supply of current or future projections.
Captive bred MARINE REEF ORGANISMS have shown themselves to be hardier under aquaria conditions and subject to fewer imported parasites and other diseases. Additionally manmade rocks on which the corals are grown harbor no noxious pests currently introduced to aquarists' tanks from wild caught specimens, and only those organisms specifically selected for and cultured are ultimately put into the aquarists tanks thus providing them a demonstrably superior product. Additionally captive breeding techniques identify and qualitatively increase those traits that enhance an organisms ability to thrive under captive conditions in the aquarists tanks. Further captive bred specimens are selected for enhanced esthetic qualities such as color and compatibility while improved longevity is already demonstrated. Captive bred MARINE REEF SPECIMENS are demonstrably superior to the same specimens imported from the wild and already have a price advantage over wild caught specimens.
YOUR COMPANY will enjoy a competitive advantage over wild imports through immediately available personal service in sales and delivery and contacts with the customers. The knowledge of the principals insures that the retailers inquiries on products will be quickly resolved and that the very specimens have been reared on the premises ensures a knowledge base of the specimens far beyond what an importer can tell the retailer of wild caught specimens taken through 4-5 facilities before arriving in their tanks. Many wild caught specimens are collected with cyanide or other poisons causing heavy mortalities after arrival in the dealers or aquarists tanks. This is not a problem with captive-bred specimens. Additionally short delivery transit times ensures that the products arrive in the retailers premises in a timely manner and the specimens are in peak condition.
YOUR COMPANY is positioned with a solid core of products to provide a wide range of the best selling species of MARINE REEF SPECIMENS. In avoiding marketing to the major chains which require extensive credit arrangements and slow payments the cash flow of YOUR COMPANY will be kept current on a COD delivery basis. This insures a up to date and current cash flow. 30 day billing will be offered to selected customers after a sufficient trial time of purchases. Local access to target markets, and cash point of sale places YOUR COMPANY in an advantageous position.
ADVERTISING / PROMOTIONS
The major advertising effort will be through a web site with a product list and updates on new products and maintenance of the product line. The target market will receive regular mailers on new products and existing products available. Regular weekly phone calls will keep customers abreast of principals and maintain contacts and relations. A 'Yellow Pages' ad will inform new dealers of availability of YOUR COMPANY. During summer seasonal slowdowns some promotions will be enacted to raise the traditional summer slump in sales.
Sales will be made through initial personal visits to shops, meeting and becoming acquainted with dealers and offering initial samples of some products. Weekly telephone calls will maintain contacts with customers on a regular basis. Maintaining a current Internet Web Site will bring in out of area sales serviced through telephone and FedEx and UPS deliveries. Sales will be structured on box lot sales of corals and fish in dozen or half dozen lots. Production figures will be based on the expected weekly sales projected on a monthly and yearly basis.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
Continual and development of new species under propagation will continue and be enhanced through interchange with other scholars, research centers and trade organizations to increase the number of captive bred species available for the trade. Additionally ongoing subsequent captive bred generations of species propagated will enhance the suitability of those species for aquaria life while continuing to minimize the demand for those species from the wild with every specimen sold to the hobby trade. Further development will be done on a patent pending system for multiple tank filtration systems for refugia. This product will be introduced as development and testing progresses for two sizes of the system.This product will be manufactured at a local off premises site under contract.
Through centralizing all operations at the Nunda location strong control will be maintained of all aspects of the business operations. Minimal outside labor will be utilized and that kept to delivery personnel and some cleaning operations. Through holding down labor expenses more funds will be available for the fixed costs of the operation and development of the products and product lines. Unavoidable labor costs will be assigned through contract labor rather then employees.Home office space will be utilized rather then separate free standing office space.
Key person is YOUR NAME Owner / Operator whose experience within the Pet
Trade and knowledge of chosen species of the product line will form the
core activities of the company. Other local area personnel knowledgeable
in building trades and maintenance will from time to time be utilized as
their skills are needed. All efforts will be made to achieve and maintain
a high quality relationship with the customer base.
FINANCIALS (deleted for transmission problems, refer to previous
PROFORMA PROFIT & LOSS YEARS 1,2,3
It is anticipated that the Payback Period of the investment will be achieved within five years of operation. This will be achieved by providing a superior product at a competitive price to the competiton while maintaining a high quality customer service relationship with the targeted market.
NOTES TO GARF READERS;
This is GREATLY abbreviated many pages less, I eliminated much nuts and bolts information in numerous categories relating to the 'how-to' of propagation and discussion on products etc. you can find that info on other articles at this site, plus other web sites. What this is intended to illustrate is a format for writing your own BUSINESS PLAN. Your own BUSINESS PLAN should reflect YOU and YOUR desires and YOUR plans and provide a blueprint, a road map for you to get there. Do it now, and enjoy yourself along the way.
I would be glad to hear from any of you on further things that you would like to hear. next month I will be providing information on a number of books, and computer programs on all that I have been talking about these last 8 months that will help you in the setting up of your very own REEF PROPAGATION ENTERPRISE.
Do it! save a reef, grow your own!
I had planned on including this following information in another article on financing and expansions but as the Business Plan part is so relevant to this segment I am including it here.
The US Govt. has an excellent format for a Business Plan on its web site for the Small Business Administration along with an excellent tutorial, I strongly reccommend that you read and study it.
There are three URL's that follow, the first one is for the Business Plan, the second one for Q&A's on starting a Small Business and the third one for Small Business Start-Up information. They are:
There is a wealth of information on these and well worth the time to study them
When it came it was very cold and contracted down to about the size of a fifty cent piece. We placed it to float in the big tank for about a half and hour before doing the acclimation procedure. When it was finally released from the plastic bag it floated down onto the crushed aragonite plenum base and against some live rock. There it is has stayed and grown. It is such a changing creature, it has different moods and behaviors. Sometimes it looks brown and taupe other times is it is bright kelly green. Frequently it is open flat against the crushed coral as wide as a man's palm other times in it open only a few inches. When we feed the fish brine shrimp I make an effort to make sure that it gets several tasty morsels. It reacts by pulling in the bright green tentacles to its mouth and licking it's fingers.
Day before yesterday it was in a very different form than I had seen before. It had pulled itself up into a tall cone about four or five inches high and pulled it's tentacles half way in. I watched off and on during the day but could not quite figure out what it was doing. By supper time it was back to it's favorite position sprawled on the crushed coral waiting for it's dinner.
After putting the kids to bed and getting ready for bed myself, I went around the house locking doors and turning off lights. As usual I paused on the upstairs couch to enjoy my big tank. I watched the golden headed sleepers find a late evening snack before heading to bed. The green mandarins goby was out observing me as usual. :) The calerpa and corals looked as if they were doing "just fine, thank you." When I spotted something caught in some calpera. It was small, round, light brown and had short tentacles, about the size of a dime. (No, it wasn't an apastia, I KNOW what they look like!) I looked again, this time with my glasses on, the more I looked, the more it looked like the green flower rock anemone. I carefully broke the calerpa and placed the branch of calerpa, anemone and all on some live rock.
By morning the little anemone had left the calerpa for the more secure live rock. By the next evening we fed it it's independent meal of brine shrimp. It grabbed a bunch and pulled in its tentacles and "licked it's fingers" just like it's mother.
I told the kids that they were step parents and they told me that I was a step grandmother! Oh well, all in good fun.
This morning our new little anemone is standing up on it's 5/8 inch stalk hunting for more delicious brine shrimp. It is now out to about the size of a quarter. Gee, they grow as fast as my children. The kids have named it "Tickles."
As the weeks rolled by I had a mental image of how the meeting would go with a small intimate group gathered around the demonstration table. Tim said that he would like to have me make some rocks for him in exchange for some Xenia frags. We spoke several time about what he needed for his tank and it would be possible to make those rocks during the meeting. The plan loosely complete I thought I was ready for the meeting.
The night finally arrived and I arrived at the meeting with cement, oyster shell, fish boxes and rubber gloves in hand. I was greeted by friendly faces and a few familiar ones; Tim and the Jones form Odgen to name a few. The crowd grew and GREW. Folks began setting up video cameras. Yikes. I had not prepared for video cameras. There were now FOUR of the set up and ready to go.
Tim began to speak and the folks continued to slide quietly in the back door. The crowd grew and GREW. I was stuck, the front and back door were blocked.
The folks were very kind and asked some very pertinent questions. The folks asked about the differences between Aragonite and crushed oyster shell. Several folks offered their streams for curing. Tim asked twice for the pH discussion on curing with all the variables. The time flew by. We finished all the rock slurry and the cameras were finally turned off. Phew! I stepped away from the table and out of the spot light. I think I like it better on this side of the lights and cameras.
Hey, Tim! I will be over to get my frags, soon.
Karen, the Rocker
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Research page for Xenia and related soft coral propagation
Learn to propagate xenia. Please enter any data you have about these corals.
Soft Coral Propagation Page
Pictures and details of soft coral propagation
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Pictures and details of small polyp stony corals
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Pictures and details of mushroom propagation
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