Tag: Financial

Kansas Populist Movement Basics: The End
The Sunflower State

Kansas Populist Movement Basics: The End

Kansas Populist Movement Basics: The End

“Sockless Jerry” Simpson

Populist candidate James Weaver did not become president in 1892, as most undoubtedly know. However, he did win 8.5% of the popular vote, which was considered an impressive amount for a third-party candidate. He also won the states of Kansas, Colorado, Nevada, and Idaho.

The Populist movement was far more successful in some states than others. As previously mentioned, Populist strongholds tended to be states in which farmers were hard hit by drought and economic turmoil. One of these states was Kansas. Read More

Kansas Populist Movement Basics: The Beginning
The Sunflower State

Kansas Populist Movement Basics: The Beginning

Kansas Populist Movement Basics: The Beginning

A Populist convention in Nebraska in 1890

The Populist movement of the late 1800s is a major topic in Kansas history. A brief glance at history books tells us that the populism of that era was more or less radical agrarianism. While this is basically true, the topic is far more complex than this.

What did the Populists believe? How did they try to achieve it? And what became of them? Lengthy books can be (and have been) written on the subject. This week and next, we’ll try to summarize the main points. Read More

Pros and Cons of Niche Marketing
The Business

Pros and Cons of Niche Marketing

Pros and Cons of Niche MarketingNiche marketing is the norm for many small business owners, no matter what they are selling. Before diving in, however, it’s best to have an understanding of both the opportunities and the challenges of niche marketing.

Are you ready to capitalize on your strengths as an entrepreneur in a niche market? Read on.



  • Live your dream. Not all of us are cut out to be multimillionaires or world powers, but that doesn’t mean that we have to settle for boring 40-hour jobs. Niche marketing taps into passion—our passion and the passion of like-minded customers.
  • Set the trend. Have you spotted an underserved niche? You have a tremendous competitive advantage! By developing products that meet the needs of the niche and by marketing those products efficiently, you have an opportunity to dominate the market. The more unique your niche, the greater the likelihood that major players will shy away from competing with you.
  • Scale down. Don’t have the space to raise a thousand hogs? Don’t have the workforce to crank out a thousand handmade chairs? Niche marketing means that you don’t have to mass produce. With the world being the marketplace these days, you will actually find running your own niche business much easier if you focus on a particular customer base that you can serve well instead of trying to compete on the global scene.
  • Offer quality. Many of us sleep better at night if we know that we have pursued quality in our endeavors. Niche markets tend to reward that pursuit.
  • Set your price. Yes, if you are unrealistic when setting prices, you will do yourself out of a job. That said, when niche marketing, you do have some control over prices. You do not have to be at the mercy of the corporate world, but can consider both margin and customer expectations.
  • Put the dollars where they matter. It can take a big budget to compete in the global marketplace. You probably don’t have the money to advertise your home poultry flock enough to compete with Tyson. You may not be able to advertise a new formula of soft soap that can steal the market from the leading brand, either. By focusing on a niche, however, you can set a budget that reflects the size and purchasing power of a specific group of people and reach them more effectively.
  • Connect with customers. Businesses thrive when they put their customers first. While large companies can serve customers, niche businesses have a unique advantage in this area. You probably already have a feel for what your customers need; therefore, you can probably meet that need and give them the tailored service that they are looking for. This in turn results in loyalty to your brand.



  • Learn as you go. How well do you know your market and your products? To succeed at niche marketing, you’d better be prepared to become an expert in your field. You will have to stay abreast of information concerning all aspects of producing and marketing your chosen products.
  • Research the market. Maybe there’s a reason that the niche you are looking at has not been filled. To take an extreme example for the sake of illustration, there’s a reason farmers’ market participants in Kansas don’t offer homegrown bananas. Producing bananas in Kansas is simply not practical. As another example, there’s a reason that you aren’t likely to find a high-end restaurant catering to a low-income neighborhood. The locals probably are not going to eat at the restaurant because they can’t afford to.
  • Start small. A niche is small by definition. By finding a niche, you are accepting the fact that your product simply does not fit all potential buyers. It may never become a staple at the grocery story. By scaling up too fast, you run the risk of losing your hard-earned customer base. Also, do your market research in advance. Be sure that your niche is not too small to support your business.
  • Count the cost. Developing a niche market takes time, effort, and money. Count the cost before you make the jump. And be cautious about taking on debt—heavy liabilities have been the undoing of too many startups. Recognize the fact that it will be a while before you start to see a profit. While your margin may be better than a mass-marketing company’s margin, you will still get a slower start because you won’t be making nearly as many sales, especially at the beginning.
  • Pay the price. Big companies can get discounts on supplies and shipping because of the volume they work with. A niche business works on a much smaller scale, usually making its production costs per product higher.
  • Work, work, work. Face it—niche marketing is a lot of work. You will have a hard time tapping into preexisting marketing structures (unless it’s Amazon) because you stand out from the crowd. Mass marketers look for products that fit the box. Therefore, you will have to handle your own promotion and distribution for the most part. This takes time and effort.



Niche marketing is an outstanding way for a startup to gain a foothold in a global economy. However, it requires focus, knowledge, and close attention to the bottom line.

A niche business is not a big business, and it cannot be run in the same way. Capitalize on your strengths—but do your research.

Get Ready for October 2016
The Lifestyle

Get Ready for October 2016

Get Ready for October 2016October is just around the corner! Are you ready to start a business, explore nature, and live by faith?

  1. Start and run your own small farm business.
  2. Find out how livestock are upgraded.
  3. Explore options for super-small-scale farms.
  4. Identify the wildflowers and grasses of Kansas.
  5. Love God with all your mind.
  6. Save money on seeds.
  7. See the stars.
  8. Understand the importance of the 100th meridian in history.
  9. Ground that wayward chicken.
  10. Discover the key to living by faith.
The Dirt-Cheap Green Thumb
The Garden

The Dirt-Cheap Green Thumb

The Dirt-Cheap Green ThumbGardening on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice looks or taste!

The Dirt-Cheap Green Thumb: 400 Thrifty Tips for Saving Money, Time & Resources In and Around the Garden by Rhonda Massingham Hart will show you how to make the most of your gardening dollars, while still enjoying a beautiful and productive garden. These tips will improve your efficiency every step of the way, from choosing your garden site to using the harvest.

Learn how to:

  • Improve your soil without needless expense.
  • Buy tools—not toys.
  • Select plants that will thrive in your unique circumstances.
  • Keep your plants in peak health.
  • Create an attractive landscape without breaking the bank.
  • Store rainwater for when you need it most.
  • Save seeds for next year.
  • Prevent waste at harvest time.
  • And much more!

The Dirt-Cheap Green Thumb is not a comprehensive how-to book on gardening—it’s more of a tool to spark your creativity. If you are struggling with ways to save either time or money around your garden, give it a try.

Farm Fresh
The Business

Farm Fresh

Farm FreshAre you considering direct marketing grassfed meat and dairy products?  Before you begin, perhaps you could benefit from a little food for thought on the subject.  Try Farm Fresh: Direct Marketing Meats & Milk by Allan Nation.

You may or may not agree with all of the philosophies contained in Farm Fresh, but you are sure to be challenged to new levels of creativity.  Nation starts by encouraging readers to honestly assess if direct marketing is the best option in their case.  He then explores many of the topics and issues that direct marketers will have to address:

  • Working within the law.
  • Finding a niche.
  • Preparing a business plan.
  • Naming a product.
  • Setting prices.
  • Choosing venues.
  • Spreading the word.

Also of interest are the examinations of marketing ideas such as “loading the wagon” and agritainment.

To illustrate the principles and inspire creative thinking, Nation has packed this book with case study after case study.  Finally, there’s a unique but very effective summary chapter—”Lessons from a Locomotive,” using the analogy of a train to condense the main points of the book into memorable nuggets.

Farm Fresh is not a step-by-step instruction manual to direct marketing, but it probably wasn’t intended to be one.  Instead, it is a resource to inspire you to create a personalized business that will cater to the needs of your customers in a one-of-a-kind way.

Are you ready to think outside of the box?

3 Money-Saving Tips for the Farm
The Farm

3 Money-Saving Tips for the Farm

3 Money-Saving Tips for the FarmIt’s very easy to get carried away in our farm spending.  It seems that there’s always some handy tool or machine that would make life a little easier, and there’s always a steady stream of things needing to be repaired.

If you’re ready to rein in the spending a little bit, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Do it yourself.  Build your own toolshed.  Make your own fence posts.  Fix your own tractor.  Cure your own livestock.  The possibilities are endless!  Farming on a tight budget can really stretch your creativity.  Before running out and buying a part or calling in an expert, try doing your own research.  See if you can come up with a less expensive and equally effective alternative.
  2. Buy used.  There are some things you will have to buy, such as tools, but many times you can get along just fine without the latest, greatest name-brand item.  See if you can find a used part or machine that still has many years of working life left in it.  Check eBay or Amazon.  Or maybe a friend of yours is throwing away junk and has something he’ll sell you for a reasonable price.  Lightly used equipment can be a great bargain.
  3. Be honest.  Avoid falling into the trap of nickel-and-diming yourself to death.  Ask yourself, “Do I really need this just now?  Is there a better way to get the task done?”  If you can do without it…by all means, do!  There may come a time further down the road when your prospective purchase will more than pay for itself, but for now improvise.  Avoid impulse buys.  Instead, think through each decision carefully.

Saving money on the farm will often involve a little more time spent in research and in the farm workshop, but often the results are very satisfying.

Are you ready to think outside of the box?

What is Sustainable Agriculture?
The Farm

What is Sustainable Agriculture?

What is Sustainable Agriculture?It may seem simple to define sustainable agriculture, but ask two people what it is, and you’ll probably get two different answers.  Many of the various perspectives have similarities, but each approaches the subject from a slightly different angle.  Here are three of the most common viewpoints.


Environmental Focus

One common view is that sustainable agriculture is about using farming practices that protect the environment.  This type of approach often focuses on:

  • Avoiding the use of potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Raising livestock humanely.
  • Creating diverse habitats for wildlife.
  • Conserving natural resources such as fuel, soil, and water.

Sustainability in an environment-focused system comes from keeping nature’s many cycles unbroken.


Community Focus

A second approach to sustainable agriculture stems from concern over the decline of small communities in recent years.  As people move out of rural areas, towns die.  Therefore, some sustainable producers take their role in community health very seriously.  They seek to keep their small towns alive by:

  • Supporting local businesses.
  • Drawing potential customers to the community.
  • Providing employment in their area.


Family-Business Focus

A final definition of sustainable agriculture focuses more on the farmer and his family.  Proponents of this view feel that farmers should be able to make a profit on what they sell and enjoy the fruit of their toil.  But this is not all.  A key feature of this angle of sustainable agriculture is its emphasis on ensuring that the next generation will have an incentive to carry on with the farm.  The goals of this approach are:

  • Improving the margin of farm-based businesses.
  • Providing an enjoyable lifestyle for the whole family.
  • Employing any family members who want to work on the farm.


The Whole-Farm Approach

Many successful sustainable farms have chosen to combine all three perspectives into a more rounded view of sustainable agriculture.  They recognize their farm as a whole, and they treat it that way.

One of the best things about approaching sustainable agriculture in this manner is that it gives the producer a chance to think for himself, to pick and choose the practices that line up with his beliefs and create a unique enterprise.  There are as many different ways to farm as there are farmers.  Why should we all approach things the same way?

By creating a farm that fulfills his life purpose, the farmer will able to find deep satisfaction in his work, knowing that he is on the path his Creator laid out for him.  This will ensure that his work is eternally valuable, thus achieving the ultimate in sustainability.  Because that life purpose is guaranteed to include service to others, the farmer will also have a profound impact for the better on both his family and his community.  Furthermore, because he is called to be a good steward of his possessions, he will manage the environment wisely, but without magnifying it beyond its proper perspective.

What more could we ask?  This type of sustainable farm is something we all could benefit from.  Let’s do it!


Helpful Resources

Found: God’s WillFound: God's Will
Finding your life purpose is easier than you think!  Read our full review.

“Doing the Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way”
Any type of work can be God’s work.  What you do in life isn’t nearly as important as how and why you do it.

Building a Sustainable Business
The tools in this highly recommended guide to building a business plan emphasize all aspects of sustainable farming.  Don’t start a business without it!  Read our full review.

You Can Farm
The Business

You Can Farm

You Can FarmUnlike some of the other Joel Salatin books we recommend, You Can Farm is not a practical how-to guide, but a philosophical challenge geared toward beginners.  It’s a great way to start contesting paradigms and brainstorming outside of the box as you are guided through the process of creating a vision and making it happen.

Salatin addresses some of the common misconceptions about small-scale farming:

  • Instead of listing all the things that you need to start a farming enterprise, he emphasizes all the things you don’t need and shows you how to come up with creative solutions to your unique challenges.
  • Instead of focusing on pesticides, drugs, and other chemicals, he discusses the different aspects of natural production, such as biodiversity and seasonality.
  • Instead of lending credence to the notion that “there ain’t no money in farming,” he proposes direct marketing as the path to profitability.

Again, this is not a how-to book.  It was written to inspire small farmers to new levels of creativity and innovation.  You may not agree with all of Salatin’s philosophies, but they will certainly get you thinking.

Salatin’s infectious enthusiasm will also encourage you if you are still on the fence about country living.  This is a great resource—don’t miss it!


Helpful Resource

Building a Sustainable BusinessBuilding a Sustainable Business
Now that you have conceived your vision, it is time to develop it into a practical business plan.  We recommend this free book to guide that process.  Read our full review.