Business Planning Basics
So, how do I get started drafting a business plan for my farm?
The first step in writing a business plan is realizing the importance of having one and being willing to ask questions about why, when, and how you should go about the process. Once you have gathered a few basic facts about your operation, you should contact someone who can help guide you through the remaining steps. That person may be your local extension agent, a farm business managment specialist, or even someone at the Small Business Center at your nearby community college.
Before you meet with someone, capture the following basics on paper:
Your dream or vision for your farm – looking ahead 1, 3, 5, and maybe 10+ years
Goal steps to accomplish your dream or vision – goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely
Your current situation – take stock of your history and your current operation
The marketing strategies that you use now and those you would consider using in the future
Your current financial situation – assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe), as well as sources of income outside the farm, if any
A listing of the key players who are involved in the farm's operation – family members, employees, and others
Once you have gathered the information above, you may contact someone for help. The more data that you provide, the more helpful that person from the extension office, community college, or elsewhere will be. Remember this, a business plan is only as helpful as it is kept up-to-date, contains accurate and honest information, and is shared with everyone tied to the farm.