Business Planning Resources
Land access resources means sharing farm business planning resources to help you get the support you need to be successful in your business.There are many programs and resources to support the development of a farm business plan but only you can articulate the full range of considerations that are unique to your operation and your personal and business goals. Below are a few starting points to consider as you work through developing a business plan for your farm.
Where to start?
- Brainstorm, dream and plan
- Asses what you have & identify what you need
- Explore the market you’d like to enter
- Create your plan including financial projections for start-up costs and first 2 years of operation and a timeline, with a 3 year horizon and space for redefining aspects of plan based on the procurement of land that the business will take place on
1. Brainstorm, dream and plan
Start with the basics or a rough sketch and then work to flesh it out and create a full picture. Start thinking through the following:
- What is the purpose of farm business? What is the vision? Can you articulate a farming philosophy you plan to practice?
- What are your goals (right now, 5 year, 10 year+)?
- Are your goals consistent with your skills and the goals of your family?
- What would be the structure of your business (sole proprietorship, partnership, co-op etc.)?
- What is the ideal location of your farm?
- Are you interested in buying? Renting? Leasing? Sharing? (do a pro/con list if needed)
- Does your existing lifestyle compliment a farm business?
- When are you planning on accessing land?
- What do you want to grow?
- How much do you want to grow?
- What market is there for what you plan to grow?
- Are you in good health?
- What strengths are you bringing to the business? What weaknesses can you anticipate you’ll need to work with?
2. Asses what you have & identify what you need
See Assessing Land for Agricultural Suitability (LLAF)
Personal Interests and Resources
- How much time can you put into the farm?
- How much of the farm labour can you do yourself? Is your time restricted to weekends and holidays?
- Do you have access to other sources of labour?
- What types of labour (field work, marketing, propagation, mechanical etc.) do you prefer? What tasks may be better outsourced (i.e. book keeping, payroll etc.)
- How much do you have to invest financially into the business? How much energy can you put into it?
- Is borrowing funds to purchase land or equipment an option for you?
- Do you know regulations and laws (i.e. Right to Farm Act, bylaws, Water Act etc.) that may impact your farm business and/or land tenure?
3. Explore the market you’d like to enter
- What types of products/services are in demand in your area?
- What skills or edge will give you an advantage in this market?
- What is the size of the market you hope to enter and how much can you capture?
- Have you looked at price cost benefit analysis for products you plan to sell? What prices will you need to set that the market can support so you can turn profit?
- Have you decided on a coherent brand for your farm? Is it tied to one piece of land?
4. Create Your Business Plan
In working through the above information you should start to get a good sense of how farm business will work for you, where your assets and challenges are and how to plan ahead. In creating a business plan you’ll need to gather summary of your business concept, background information and history, description of products and services, management structure and organization, marketing plan, and financial plan with income statement, cash flow analysis and balance sheet. There are additional tools to help you work through the bulk of this, below are a few business planning resources to get you started.
Business Planning Resources
- Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide To Developing Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses (SARE)
- Business Start Up Checklist (LLAF)
- Business Planning For Small-Scale Community Farming Enterprises (Farm Folk City Folk)
- Farm Skills Assessment (Grow NYC)
- Farmer Skill Self Assessment Tool (New England Small Farm Institute)
- Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management Planning Book (Oregon Small Farms Program)
- Guidebook for Beginning Farmers (Greenhorns)
- New Farmer Hub Resources (Northeast Beginning Farmers Project)
- One-Page Business Plan (Farm Credit Knowledge Centre)
- Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook (Partnerships For Sustainable Communities)
- Young Agrarians runs a great Business Mentorship Program and has a fabulous list of resources here