Any small business needs a business plan, and there is no exception if you are trying to get a small farm up and running. A small farm is a business endeavor that needs a roadmap for the long journey ahead. Your plan will be both a process and product, and it will serve several purposes when it comes to aiding your small farm. When you actually sit down to write your business plan, you will be putting your vision into words, outlining your mission and goals and proposing exactly how you expect to get where you need, and want, to be.
You will want to outline both your short-term and your long-term goals as well as the steps needed in order to reach them. If you are having a hard time figuring out where to start, it helps to keep in mind that you will want to look at what direction you want and expect your business to be headed in over the next five years. This can apply to already established farms as well and can help you sustain your current business model or aid you in creating a new one.
But how exactly should you outline your business plan? It should not be a list of bullet points, it should detail various aspects of your business in an orderly fashion that is easy for you, and potential business partners, to understand. If you want to write a successful business plan, remember that it should be simple, specific where necessary, and above all, realistic. Make sure that it at least includes the following sections as well. They will help to organize the document into coherent sections and make it easier for you to pitch your business to anyone you may be looking to partner up with.
This is pretty straightforward. What is the purpose of your business? Why did you create this farm? What sort of produce or services will your farm provide? Where do you see your farm headed in the long run? This portion of the business plan should lay out your main idea, plain and simple. There is no need to get into too much detail here, as most everything you outline will be explored later on.
When writing your mission statement, don’t just think about the business aspect of it, either. While this is a business plan, you will also want to outline what the values of your farm are in order to give it a unique identity.
When detailing your goals, you will want to plot out specific, measurable things that you will achieve with your small farming business. You will want to outline both short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are goals that you can accomplish within a year and long-term goals are goals that will take more than one year to complete.
You will want to be reasonable and realistic when it comes to listing your goals. Make sure that they are specific and measurable, meaning that they are not vague or nonspecific to the point that it may be difficult to discern what it is that they are or by what means they can be considered completed. It will help to ensure that your goals are not just practical and attainable, but rewarding as well. When listing your farm’s aspirations, list them along a timeline, putting short-term goals before the long-term goals.
This section of your business plan will detail what you have right now. Take inventory and see what sorts of resources, tools, and know-how you have at your disposal. You should be listing things such as where you are located, how many acres of land you have to work with, how much farming experience you have, when your farm first began operating, and what general practices you use for things such as conservation, tillage, environmental impact, and marketing.
Your strategy should discuss what your farm is headed in the next five years or so. In order to outline a reasonable strategy, you may want to gather information and research the current market. Look at farms that do what you are doing or are similar to what you plan on doing. Making sure that your farm fits into the general market in terms of supply and demand is crucial. You will also want to look at industry trends and look for potential buyers. You may also want to look into your farm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and anything that may pose a threat to your business in order to prepare for any number of given situations. With this in mind, you should begin to explore alternative strategies for your farm’s business in case things change.
How do you plan on advertising your products and services? Using the research you have already conducted, devise a blueprint for potential prices and promotion ideas. Make sure to include print and digital marketing if you can, where you may be able to reach a target audience, where you can advertise or sell your products other than you farm and who you may be able to get in touch with regarding the movement and placement of goods.
This portion of the business plan will detail your farm’s business structure. Anyone who is involved in the management of the farm, or parts of it, should be listed here along with their responsibilities. You will also want to list whatever external resources your farm has, as well.
Here, you will detail the financial aspects of your small farming business. You will need to list your current finances, including all income and operating expenses as they are. With this information and research that you conducted beforehand, you can begin to predict what is needed for your farm’s future growth and what it is that you need to do in order to meet the goals that you have outlined earlier in the business plan. Including the predicted amount of future costs will help if included as well, as it can be used to help plan out the likelihood of future goals and when they may feasibly come to pass. This can be adjusted later to match actual circumstances and account for other unpredictable events or changes. This aspect of your plan, paired with info detailed in your Background Information section can also help you determine exactly how much coverage you will need in terms of small business and farm insurance, too.
Tying Everything Together
Once you have your farm’s business plan completed, look it over and make sure that everything is consistent. From there, you can use your business plan as a tool and guide for your business. The act of writing a business plan can be demanding, but it is also rewarding. Doing your homework and writing everything all out really pays off and can play an integral role in the future growth of your farming business.