Published by: rachelj on Monday, 09 August
Our interview with Microenterprise owners aims to showcase the diverse nature of Microenterprise – each one totally unique in the product or service they offer, their motivations and the stage of their business, yet all working towards creating a sustainable Microenterprise aligned with their skills, passions and interests.
Shane Birch is the owner and producer of Microenterprise Liquid Gold – creating a rich fertiliser ‘worm wee’ to keep your garden healthy and growing. His own veggie patch is testament to this! Shane is also currently collecting containers for recycling.
We spoke to Shane (and heard from his Microenterprise Advisor, Eloise) about his experience owning and operating a Microenterprise.
Shane, tell us about your business.
Shane: Before my dad got sick, he had a family business. I decided to start a business to follow in my dad’s footsteps. Because I’ve started from the bottom, Liquid Gold took a long time to get off the ground – but once I met people that helped get it out into the community, it did. At my first market, I sold everything and was very motivated by that.
I don’t use anything unnatural. I use vegetables like potato and carrot, but you can also use things like paper and cardboard. A lot of people don’t know how to start a worm farm or even use worm wee! Right now, it takes about a week to fill my buckets, which is about 32 litres a week.
How does your Microenterprise Advisor/Innovative Employment Advisor help you?
Shane: Eloise has helped a fair bit! She tells me about things like legal requirements and intellectual property. We have started a business plan and we’re working on my logo, promotions and financials.
Eloise: Shane had lots of ideas before engaging with Valued Lives Microenterprise Project, so he knew what he wanted already.
Where can people purchase your products?
Shane: Here (at Shane’s home), Fremantle Hub and Perth Makers Market. I also list products on Facebook Marketplace, buy and sell pages and Gumtree. I’m looking at selling at more markets as well.
What’s your favourite thing about owning a business?
Shane: Parents and family will not always be around to help. Because I look after Faye (Shane’s partner), my business helps us stand on our own two feet, with the assistance of the carers where we need it.
How is Faye involved in your business?
Shane: Faye wants to be involved in everything I do – she likes to help out. We’re now looking at different ways to get help using grants. We’re also looking at selling seedlings or small plants in winter, and using pot plants to show how worm wee works.
When you’re not working on your business, what do you enjoy doing?
Shane: I fish fortnightly with Brian and like to garden and grow my own vegetables. I also work four days a week at a native plant nursery in Fremantle.
I’m not just sitting here hoping for the best!
What’s one goal you have for the future?
Shane: I want my business to pay for itself. I’ve already put a lot of money into it to find out what we need!
My goal is also to earn some money to take Faye on a holiday – maybe back to Queensland where I was born.
What is something you wish people understood about disability and business ownership?
Shane: A lot of people don’t understand what disabled people go through unless they have family or friends who are disabled.
Something I wish people knew was to have patience, so that we can explain – and please ask questions if you need to so I can try and answer them for you. If I don’t know, then I can find out for you!
Interested in buying your own Liquid Gold, or keeping up with Shane? You can catch him at our upcoming Perth Makers Market in Goolagatup, Heathcote on August 22nd.