Thursday, November 01, 2007

More Thoughts on a Business Plan...

Yesterday I posted a portion of an article about creating a business plan. That information comes from Penny Huber who leads a class called, "Growing Your Small Market Farm." I am realy awaiting a brochure for this coming years class and praying that it doesn't take place on Wednesdays! I thought that little section that I posted yesterday was eye opening for me ... when it comes to a business plan I am clueless. (Hmmm, kinda sounds like me and farming.)

I found the "myths" and "facts" interesting. When I take a step back and look at myself I see that communication is not a problem, work ethic is not a problem, even farming ability (or the capacity to learn) is not a problem ... but, I have been scared of the business part. I feel like if I can get started down the marketing path I can do that, but I have wondered if I could ever tackle the business side. It was reassuring to read that it is possible to learn how to be an entrepreneur. Hopefully I will be able to learn some of this from Penny Huber!

As I mentioned yesterday, points number two and three resonated most with me. Point number two says, "The business planning process must involve everyone in the family and/or business." This is very important to me because becoming a beginning farmer is a very big step emotionally and financially. In fact, with our Dexters we have already taken a large step along the way. I think it is very important that my wife and I are on the same page as we look at how the farm will work and how it will pay. Another factor is my father and step-mother. Right now that's where our cows live and possibly where farming could take place so it will be important to have them on board with any business plan we formulate.

The second point is as follows, "The business plan must reflect reality. 'Interview other people already in the business to get their input.'" Since I got this farming bug in my system I have tried to seek out sources of what is actually working. I have read books, magazine articles, and research reports. I have talked on the phone with farmers, I have had e-mail correspondence with people making their farm pay their salary, and I have visited local farmers who are farming full-time or working towards it. This research has been helpful because it adds reality (to steal a word from the quote) to the ideas that are bouncing around in my head. Also, I hope to make it out to more farms and see what is working for people in Iowa. (Hmmm... Sugar Creek Farm ... do you accept visitors!?!)

That little article that I quoted in my post yesterday was a good introduction to a farming business plan for me. I would like to investigate this further and will be searching out people to talk to and information to read. Here are a couple of books I was thinking about checking out via inter-library loan. If you have any thoughts on either of them I would love to hear your thoughts.

Farm Fresh : Direct Marketing Meat & Milk by Allan Nation

Making Your Small Farm Profitable by Ron Macher


sugarcreekfarm said...

Yes, we love to have visitors to the farm! And feel free to email any time as well. themillers92 (at) osage (dot) net.

I have that "Making Your Small Farm Profitable" book. There is some valuable information there, especially as you think about what other enterprises you might undertake to diversify your farm.

Here's a great (free!) business planning resource online:

Building a Sustainable Business : A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses The content is real similar to the course content for the Grow Your Small Market Farm class. It would be a place to get started thinking about your business until you start the class. (I believe Penny's class is on Saturday's, by the way.)

Ethan Book said...

Thank you for the link and your thoughts on the Ron Macher book. That one may work its way onto my Christmas list.

Matsonian said...

If I can make a suggestion. My new program that releases on November 5, QuickPlanner Plus, is the perfect tool for creating a small business plan especially for those, like me, who are not planning saavy. I developed it to walk you through the planning steps for the strategic plan side of the business. It does not cover the financial, but it helps you figure out what you need to do. It is a great first step.


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