Why Choose Keeping Ducks? For Meat, Eggs, Or Pets?

Raising and keeping ducks is becoming popular nowadays, on par with raising chicken. Primarily raised for their meat, more than 20 million ducks are being raised in the United States every year. Though they lay fewer eggs compared to chicken, their eggs are larger and tastier, plus they contain more nutrients too. Keeping ducks for business is relatively less troublesome too since ducks requires non-elaborate housing facilities. Compared to chicken, ducks need less attention and less space for rearing.

In choosing a business, why pick keeping ducks? It is because they are considered one of the most versatile of the avian species. Their bodies are strong and can keep themselves well in wide ranges of climatic and nutritional conditions. These means that raising them is inexpensive.

Since they do not lay plenty of eggs, it is advised to keep the eggs for food or for hatching. Note that they actually can produce more eggs but they will have to eat more egg-laying feeds, 75 percent more compared to chicken, so it will not be economical.

Most raisers choose keeping ducks of the Pekin breed. The Pekin duck, also called the Long Island Duck, is a domesticated kind of duck, bred from the Mallard of China. They are better egg producers than other breeds and they gain weight quickly too. More than 90 percent of duck meat consumed in the US is from Pekin ducks. A 4-7 month mature Pekin duck, on the average, weighs about 9-10 pounds.

Housing for keeping ducks is also inexpensive. It can be made from light materials such as bamboo or wood. A space of about 3 to 4 square feet is advisable for every duck. As much as possible, the house should be placed in a nearby moving body of water like a stream. A pond or paddling pool may also work but regular water replacement, about once every two weeks, is advisable. Duck droppings can make the water green in no time. They need water bodies to swim and exercise. But only allow them to swim up to 2 hours so they don’t get over fatigued.

Does Your Business Have What It Takes To Become A Franchise?

I have been involved in franchising dozens of businesses, at last count over 60. Some from concept and some where we converted an existing business to the franchised model and I am really happy to deal with either pathway with one really important proviso.

The business owner must have a reasonable understanding on what it takes to run a business successfully – franchised or not.

And unfortunately I have concluded this is easier said than done.

Done well, franchising does help to structure a business so that it has the best chance of success because franchising helps to put some great business practices in place. Systems and money management being at the top of the list. But overall, I have found that in most businesses, there are some aspects about business success which need to be reviewed and without sound business experience, creating a franchise is not likely to succeed.

Understanding how business works is especially important, because you, as franchisor, will often be training less business savvy-franchisees on successful business practice.

The most useful way I have found to think about business success is to look at the stages of business growth because it is through this journey that many learn the value of different business skills needed as they grow.

The 5 Stages of Business Growth

Way back in the early 1980’s, the concept that businesses grow through defined stages was first discussed in an article published in Forbes by Neil C. Churchill and Virginia L. Lewis. This work is still cited to explain the importance of basic business elements to success.

Before I go into the 5 stages, there is one important point to make.

Businesses do not necessarily need to go through each stage. It is possible to speed through stages into whichever is your goal. The way to do this is to understand what is required. This is how the likes of Richard Branson create new businesses everyday – Richard will have all his business ducks in a row before he starts. But even his businesses will need to go through some of these stages on the way to creating an empire.

In a nutshell these are the stages

Stage 1 – Existence

This is generally the start-up stage for any business. With no revenue, the focus of the business owner is obtaining customers and delivering the product or service. Inevitably, the owner is definitely working in the business, often alone filling every role. A major concern is having enough money to cover this start-up phase. The strategy here is simply to stay alive.

Stage 2 – Survival

By now, the business has proven it is workable and can be profitable but it is still simple in structure. There may be a limited number of employees supervised by a sales manager or a general foreman but neither will make any major decisions independently. They carry out the rather well-defined orders of the owner.

Systems development is still minimal. Formal planning is, at best, cash forecasting. The major goal is still survival, and the owner is still the business and working in the business. The main aim is to get a return on investment and making the business profitable.

However if the business is to grow, it is important to begin to understand the need to systemise and understand how business operates.

Some small businesses choose to stay here, hardly making a profit, others choose to move into the Success Stage.

Stage 3 – Success

At this point, the company is stable and profitable and cash is not a problem. Most telling, basic financial, marketing, and production systems are in place to power effective delegation.

Organizationally, the company has grown large enough, in many cases, to have functional managers to take over some duties previously performed by the owner and some planning through operational budgets support this delegation.

There should also be some strategic planning in place and the owner and, to a lesser extent, the company’s managers, should be monitoring this in accordance with goals.

While cash is plentiful, the main concern is to avoid a cash drain in prosperous periods to the detriment of the company’s ability to withstand the inevitable rough times.

Some choose to stay in this phase while others choose to move into a phase of growth.

Stage 4 – Rapid Growth

If the decision is made to grow beyond the Success Stage, then key problems will be how to achieve growth and how to finance it. Growth will return to a phase where cash management becomes critical.

Churchill and Lewis report they found the keys to success here are having a sound understanding of delegation and how to manage risk in cash flow.

As staff numbers grow, systems need to become more refined to ensure delegation is efficient and both operational and strategic planning are crucial to make sure everyone is on the same page.

At this stage, the owner no longer works in the business but does have a strong presence over the way it is run and over things such as stock control.

Churchill and Lewis state:

‘This is a pivotal period in a company’s life. If the owner rises to the challenges of a growing company, both financially and managerially, it can become a big business. If not, it can usually be sold-at a profit-provided the owner recognizes his or her limitations soon enough’

Stage 5 – Maturity

The company has now arrived. It has the advantages of size, financial resources, and managerial talent. If it can preserve its entrepreneurial spirit, it will be a formidable force in the market.

If not, it may enter a sixth stage of sorts: ossification and death.

Franchises often do it better

Yes, even in the 1980’s when the Churchill and Lewis first published their article, it was acknowledged that franchised businesses moved through the stages to Success and Rapid Growth better than those not franchised.

Why?

Because franchises often have the following advantages:

First of all, they have, in most cases, a franchisor who really understands, through experience, the essentials of business, making sure clear structures are in place from the beginning to move through Existence and Survival fast.

At the very least they will have:

  • A marketing plan developed from extensive research
  • Promotion and other start-up support such as brand identification
  • Sophisticated information and control systems so the whole franchise can be monitored
  • Operating procedures that are standardized and very well developed so delegation is consistent and efficient

I would add that, if the franchisor has really done the homework, there will also be:

  • Strong leadership for the group and an understanding of managing teams of equal partners
  • Good strategic and operational planning which has input from all franchise partners
  • And a very clear understanding of money management in the franchise group, making sure that all levels of the franchise can be profitable

I have to say, not many business I see have all these business aspects in place when they start to think about franchising. And the franchise process will help to put some in place. Things such as systems will be built and it will be essential to have a sound understanding of money management as the franchise structure is developed. If you are still working in the business though, putting in 60 or 80 hours a week, I think you will find the extra work and emotional energy to do the conversion can be more than a little overwhelming.

The Pillars for Successful Business Growth

So what’s the answer?

It’s really quite simple…

In discussing the five stages of business growth, Lewis and Churchill identified some skills needed and show that these skills are what are built up through the business growth process.

  • Money management
  • Systems development
  • Delegation, leadership and people management which results in leveraging you out of the day to day of the business
  • Strategic and operational planning

In my mind, today, there is at least one other skill to be added.

  • Marketing and your brand

The thing is, I know very few of us, if any, have the individual skill to deal with every business ability to a satisfactory level, so creating a team is an essential component as soon as it is possible. The key is to understand each area and to know who to put into your team to move you and your business forward.

So here is some detail.

Marketing and Your Brand

Having a good understanding of your target market, what is wanted of you and what your brand should look and feel like is essential from the earliest days of business.

If you do not understand how important this is, you need to think about getting help from the beginning.

Fundamental today is knowing that people respond to the power of Why. If you do not know of Simon Sinek’s amazing Ted Talk on this then visit Start With Why and listen to what he has to say.

Once your brand is sorted, you need to think about how to get your message out into the very different market place of today. Central to this is your internet presence. Businesses without will generally not have the ability to grow beyond their local area if they even manage to reach that level.

The foundation of marketing today is the ability to communicate to your people in today’s vernacular and the bitter truth is that’s the killer for 80% of businesses.

Money Availability and Its Management

Managing business through the various growth stages from inception to maturity needs a good understanding of money. How to manage cash flow, what level of risk is good (some is inevitable), expense management and the need to spend to get growth.

The other requirement is the need for capital to fund different growth stages. Existence, Survival and Rapid Growth all need capital in one form or another and not having the cash can seriously hinder the process.

Systems

Systems are the foundation of a growing business. In the early stages, not so much but moving beyond Survival requires the ability to delegate for which systems are essential.

systems, no growth. It’ as simple as that!

Delegation and Leadership

Delegation needs more than just good systems. The biggest problem faced by many entrepreneurs is letting go. Ego and thinking no one can do it as well as you is a trap.

In today’s business environment, delegation needs to be done in accordance with the three Laws of Type I management – motivating people through their own intrinsic wish to do their best.

Outlined by Daniel Pink in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink looks at how the best organisations motivate today in a way that gives their people the drive to take the organisation far.

First is Autonomy. Select people who love the job they will be responsible for and then give them the autonomy or ability to do it their way with as few essential boundaries as are necessary.

Second is Mastery. Select people with an open mind, who do not see their abilities as finite but rather know they will grow with practice and pain and who love a challenge. Put them into a job where they will always be looking to do things better but not one which will overwhelm. They will then go into the flow and give back to the organisation many fold.

Third is Purpose. Human beings seek purpose, a cause greater and more enduring than themselves. Simon Sinek and his ‘Start With Why’ YouTube video will help to see this point.

If you can combine profit maximisation with purpose maximisation then this will take you far. As Simon Sinek shows, think of Apple as an example.

And finally, remember, leadership requires humility. Yes you need the vision. But the ability to give clear directions at the appropriate level, listen to your troupes, change direction when needed, and really understand what team work is all about is key.

Again, Simon Sinek puts it so well in his latest book ‘Leaders Eat Last’. Simon’s central tenet comes from the US Marines where leaders always stand at the back of the line when it comes time to be fed. If there is no food left, it is their bad luck and that is when they rely on their troupes to provide from their share. Would your troupes willingly feed you?

Strategic And Operational Planning and Keeping an Eye on Those All-Important KPI’s

Finally, this is your job. Especially as the business becomes more sophisticated and grows larger.

Making sure you have an eye on the strategic direction of the business and know where it is going. Every leader has a clear picture of this and can give this picture to the team.

In Conclusion

Yes, at the beginning every business owner is in the business doing every task. But as you grow remember, the more you can put in systems and delegate and have some sort of business direction in place, the faster you will achieve the goals you are looking for.

Goals are great. Planning how those goals are going to be achieved is better. Keeping an eye on how the organisation is travelling against those goals is best.

The more successful your existing business or even a past business, the more likely you have what it takes to create a successful franchise group.

Plan and check out how you are travelling with your team regularly.

How to Raise Ducks As Pets – Raising Ducks is Not Limited to Profits and Business Purposes Only

The main reason why people rear ducks is for profit. Rearing of ducks is inexpensive because they have been found to adapt well to different climatic conditions. They are also not very picky when it comes to food so there is no need to buy special feeds for them. However, while young they may need to be fed with food rich in protein to help strengthen their bodies. The eggs ducks produce are larger compared to that of a chicken’s and have higher nutritional value making it a popular choice of food among health-conscious people. Ducks also eat parasites that are a nuisance to both crops and other livestock making them an overall valuable animal to keep. The raising of ducks, however, is not only limited for business purposes. Ducks, too, can be raised as pets. Utterly loyal and useful, raising ducks can be fun and rewarding. Ducks love attention and hate to be alone which makes them an extremely enjoyable companion. But how to raise ducks as pets?

Before actually buying a duck, there are many things that you have to first know about them. You have to keep in mind that you will be its caretaker for a long time therefore; you need to have knowledge about their preferred living conditions, food-eating habits, and many others. It is also advisable that you first check the different breeds of ducks there is and select one that is to your liking. There are many websites in the internet that provide comprehensive information on how to raise ducks as pets. You can also try going to the library to find the information you need.

Since ducks are sociable creatures, you should buy two or more ducklings instead of just one. If raised alone, they will manifest shy and awkward behavior which will defeat the purpose of why you’re rearing them in the first place. Keep in mind that your purpose is how to raise ducks as pets. These awkward behaviors the ducks may exhibit will make them an unideal pet to keep.

As for their shelter, there is no special requirement that needs to be included. Just as long as they can be protected from the sun or rain, then that is good enough. Adding some cobs or hay is also a great way to keep the inside dry. Ducks need a resting place that is dry to maintain their feather’s resiliency. Adding a small pool nearby is also advisable because ducks need a place to paddle on and exercise from time to time. The shelter should also be large enough for them to be able to raise and flap their wings. These little tidbits of information are a great way for anyone to learn how to raise ducks as pets.