One of the greatest challenges you can take on at university is learning to think laterally - often called ‘thinking outside the box’. It’s being able to see possibilities, new ways of doing things, and taking a different view to the norm. It not only makes life more exciting, it gets you noticed, can breathe new life into businesses and take you further in your career.
It’s a skill Harriet Livesey has developed, not just in the classroom but through her placement year and the connections she has made. And now, in the final year of her foundation degree in business, she’s using this way of thinking to kick start an exciting new business of her own.
The 23-year-old, from Leicestershire, grew up on a farm that grows woodland mushrooms and now, using her skills in business, marketing and diversification, she’s planning her own sustainable business: creating mushroom beer!
“My family have been growing woodland mushrooms as a business, called Livesey Brothers, for over 30 years on our pedigree Hereford cattle farm. Having grown-up on a family run farm, I’m passionate about all things homemade and homegrown. Growing fresh woodland mushrooms creates many challenges, from seasonal demand, crop failure, and dealing with supermarkets, to overproducing, wastage, man management, and financial control. I’d like to diversify and start a new agricultural enterprise making artisan shiitake beer from our waste mushrooms.”
Harriet’s had a great mentor to help her grow the business – her boyfriend, Jim Barker. Jim, who studied Agriculture at Harper Adams, runs Udderly Fresh Raw Milk with his father, Ian, on their family farm, selling fresh raw milk from the dairy farm directly to the customer from an on farm vending machine. Harriet helped set up the enterprise, testing her business skills and learning some valuable lessons.
Harriet says this experience, alongside her course and placement has given her “a vast understanding and insight into making informative business decisions, increasing productivity and ensuring profitability”.