Tiffany Bailey loves the sod and family farming business she runs in Manatee and Sarasota counties. But it wasn’t love at first sight.
“I was forced to work there as a kid and I really hated it,” Bailey recalls. “It was total grunt forced labor stuff, out in the farms and fields. I was driving a tractor when I was 12 years old.”
Now being a co-owner — along with her brother and brother-in-law, she bought out Bayside Sod from her dad in 2018 — Bailey has come to appreciate what her parents did. One of her big-picture goals is to carry on the farming tradition, with both Bayside Sod and her other business, Honeyside Farms, for her and her husbands’ three children.
One of the roots of Bailey’s success is she balances a creative side with a science side at the helm of both businesses. She has a degree in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida, for the latter. On the former, Bailey has used the pandemic to shift her strategy and approach on a host of services and products. One example is Honeyside’s veggie subscription boxes, a popular pandemic pivot. Another example is offering a retail delivery program for sod the company bills as being higher quality than what’s usually offered at big-box stores.
“COVID-19 obviously negatively impacted the business,” Bailey says. “But it forced us to look at our numbers closely and focus on our most productive things we did. I’m thankful for that and the clarity it gave us.”
Bailey also credits her mentor, Cheryl Biron, a leadership and business coach and CEO of Lakewood Ranch-based LexaGen Freedom Accelerator, for her success. They met a few years ago at a conference for the techniques and methods based on the book “Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t,” by Verne Harnish. Bailey says she and Biron clicked, and her mentor has since led her to be more strategic and purpose-driven with the businesses. Biron has also helped Bailey get out of her comfort zone, hold people accountable and constantly prioritize clarity with her team.
“We’re no longer growing just because more people are buying what we’re selling,” says Bailey, recently recognized by the Young Farmer Accelerator Program. It’s a year-long series of interactive learning and networking experiences for farmers who are 21-40 years old, with a focus on gaining a deeper understanding of agriculture, agribusiness, and government issues. “She helps me think about entrepreneurial things in a way I never did.”
Name: Tiffany Bailey
City of Residence: Bradenton
Employer: Bayside Sod Inc.
Years in the area: 37
Marital Status/Children: Married/3 children
Alma Mater/Degree: Bachelor's Degree in Horticultural Sciences
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Entrepreneurs' Organization Tampa Bay
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Picking up palmetto tree stumps by hand out of a field.
What's your top tip for being productive? Daily: Don't end your work day with out looking at tomorrow. Its so important to clearly identify what you will accomplish the next day and the specific times you plan to accomplish it. This also goes for weekly, quarterly, and annually. This has helped me to focus on the important rather than the urgent and spend my time with great intention.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? A restaurant out on one of our farms
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Boating
Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? Yes once with my son, Peter Rabbit II
What's the top item on your bucket list? Seven-day rafting trip on the CO River in the Grand Canyon with my family
What's your favorite podcast? EntreLeadership
Where is your happy place? Starbucks with a book
Describe yourself in three words:
Relational, Funny, Disciplined
Who is your mentor for your career and why? Cheryl Biron is my mentor and current business coach. She helps me take my vision to action and pushes me to reach outside my comfort zone.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor?
Holding people accountable helps everyone win. Create max clarity is very important to your team. Don't be afraid to push for what you want.