Are you considering making the jump and turning that farming hobby of yours into a real business? Do you already have a farm business and are considering expansion, new options in your operations, or maybe passing the enterprise along to the next generation? If so, you might want to map out your ideas in a written business plan so that you have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish and how you want to accomplish it.
And before you write that business plan, you might want to consult Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses.
This outstanding resource was originally created by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, but they quickly realized that their guide was valuable all across the country and made it available to everyone. Here it is—a business-planning resource unlike any other.
Building a Sustainable Business breaks the planning process into five steps, or tasks:
- Identify values. What’s important to you?
- Assess your farm history and current situation. What have you got?
- Develop a vision, a mission statement, and goals. Where do you want to go?
- Create and evaluate a strategic plan. What routes can you take to get to where you want to go?
- Present, implement, and monitor your business plan. Which route will you take and how will you check your progress along the way?
The more involved planning tasks are further broken into easy-to-manage steps involving marketing, operations, human resources, and finances.
Does it sound complicated? Maybe not as much as you think. To help you collect all of the information you need to write a sound business plan, each task is accompanied by handy worksheets ranging from the standard balance sheet to questions about your vision for your business.
Furthermore, Building a Sustainable Business is extremely flexible. It starts by asking you why you are writing a business plan so that you can focus on the areas of primary importance to your unique situation and create a plan that is actually useful to you.
Building a Sustainable Business is highly recommended for anyone starting or modifying a farm or other rural business. Even if you don’t need a business plan to obtain funding for your enterprise, you can still benefit from walking through the thought process explained in this book.
Best of all, it’s available for free download as a PDF!