No matter what type of farm or ranch enterprise you envision —small, big, conventional, or organic — a business plan will serve you well. So before you head off into new business territory, we’d like to share some tried-and-true tools for getting that plan underway.
The One-Page Business Plan, and the handy One-Page Financial Plan and One-Page Risk Managment Plan that go with it, are essential tools for getting started. If you do not answer the basic questions in these straightforward plans, you are likely to find yourself coming back – over and over – to square one. Complete these plans first, and you’ll find you’rean example of a food system pioneer who made it all the way! (And perhaps you’ll be featured in a future version of the Field Guide.)
Watch this 1 hour webinar about the One-Page Plans
Next Step: Full-Fledged Plan
Once you have filled out your One-Page Business Plan and financials, you can use that information and thought process to expand your business plan into a document that you can use for communication purposes. A business plan is no more than the story of your intended farm or ranch operation, told in enough detail so that other people can understand what it is that you want to do and how you want to do it.
Think about who needs to understand your intended operation: Your spouse, partners, employees, volunteers, family members, advisors, mentors, financial backers, lender, and perhaps others. Having your business plan written down allows you to get the best feedback possible from everyone, and ensures they’re all reading and responding to the same business story.
You should also think of your business plan as a work in progress; it is something you should come back to and modify at least once a year to adjust for changing circumstances, such as emerging risks you’ve identified, expansion plans, or new marketing conditions. A common myth about business plans: that they are written once and that’s it. A business plan is a living, breathing document that details how you will—and do!—accomplish what you set out to do. If you’re not able to explain it well enough to a potential customer or investor, it’s an idea that needs some more thought.
Here are a couple of online business plan sources to help build on what you can get started with the One-page-Business Plan and financials. There are many such business planning tools on the Internet that you may find to suit your needs.