A farming business plan is a decision-making mechanism that takes the form of a prescribed document. It states your business goals, purpose and lays out your strategy for doing so. A farming business plan is to assess work in progress that farm business owners or operators need to revisit regularly, not an end product. Regardless of whether you are operating a small farm that sells produce at a weekly farmers’ market or a farm with multiple enterprises that support your house plus some part-time employees, having a farming business plan is essential to your success. When farmers get started, it is their passion for providing the world with good food and taking care of the land that drives their ventures. Yet, farming is a tricky business. Without a solid farming business plan, it can be difficult for a first-time farmer to make ends meet.
Preparing a farming business plan can feel tiresome, primarily if you are not used to typing or excess screen time. A farming business plan can be structured differently, but it should accurately depict what your business is all about in both words and numbers. Even if you never show your farming business plan to anyone, it will be valuable in helping you determine your farm business from every angle.
Lay It Out
It is advised to constantly revise and incorporate changes in the business environment or marketplace as per the requirement. There are seven primary factors of a farming business plan, each serving a role to direct your operations’ course of action over the near future. In case you are soliciting investment or loans to start your business, being accurate, practical, and complete in your descriptions and financials could be the difference between getting some start-up capital or not.
A one-page summary of your operations, usually written once your entire farming business plan is ready. This section includes your objectives and mission. Think of it as a short elevator pitch and compressed summary.
Provides the necessary information related to ownership, company structure, mission, and objectives, plus start-up specifics and costs.
Product and Sales:
Describe the products you are growing, harvesting, producing, or raising on your farm and other diversified aspects of your operation. Remember to include what you sell and how or in what ways your products or services serve your customers. What needs does your business meet?
Market and Competitive Analysis:
This section features both the competitive marketplace related to your products or services and the market niche, target audience, and positioning of your products concerning oppositions’ products. For instance, will you be trading with customers or wholesaling to restaurants or both? The narrowing of your market to the most promising and profitable one is called segmentation. It is essential to include any research or trends that support your decisions.
Marketing Strategy and Sales Forecast:
By concentrating on your competitive advantage – for example, pastured beef or organic fruits – you can devise a marketing strategy that can include advertising and public relations efforts. Do not forget to mention your sales forecast, for a minimum of three to five years.
Management and Payroll:
Describe the operations of the farm from the view of who is doing what. Determine salaries and the number of part-time employees you intend to hire.
In the financial section, you design a map of your farm with numbers, creating a pro forma profit and loss statement, cash flow chart, and balance sheet that shows your business assets, liabilities, and net worth. Profit is the ultimate goal of a successful business. Without profits, you will not be in the market for long. A cash flow statement addresses sources of and uses for funds for your business by year.
The process of writing the farming business plan is often the most valuable. Writing a farming business plan makes you evaluate every aspect of your enterprise and jot these details down on paper. Farmers are motivated people and love to see where their passion takes them. The ability to react to changes and be ready for obstacles is what makes a good farmer. Using the time to think about the farm business right from its inception as the process of the farming business plan can put you on the path to achieving more firmly than just making decisions.
- Luckily, there are plenty of free online resources that guide you through the steps of writing a farming business plan, from a vision statement to a profit-and-loss statement.
In addition to the in-depth, face-to-face business-planning workshops that often occur at various national farming conferences, the Association for America’s Small Business Development Centers provides a small-business assistance network all over the United States to help new entrepreneurs – including farmers – achieve their dreams of business ownership. Small business owners and ambitious entrepreneurs can go to any of the local SBDCs for free, face-to-face business consulting and at-cost training on drafting a farming business plan, marketing, or regulatory compliance. Do not be afraid to bring your ideas to the board, but avoid jumping into a business before considering it all the way through. With careful study of the marketplace and a farming business plan in hand, you can turn your love of the land into a prosperous enterprise.
Writing a farming business plan is a big task. Do not let that put you off. Your farming business plan can be as simple as you would like to keep it. Start with your mission statement and goals. Do your study by analyzing markets and researching competitors and trends. Have fun brainstorming alternative approaches and let them marinate for a while. Take it one step at a time. A farming business plan can also be a requirement of securing grants and loans for your farm business. The process of writing a farming business plan may seem overwhelming and frightening at the beginning. Still, if you break it down into its component steps, it becomes much more manageable.