One of the best benefits of any home-based businesses is being your own boss, controlling your schedule and being close to family throughout the day. It’s both convenient and efficient. This is especially true for farmers and anyone invested in agriculture. While there are many benefits for starting any type of home business, there are also a few drawbacks that you might worry about. You may feel overwhelmed by the monumental task in front of you, and concerns about not knowing every single detail might hold you back. This is especially true for a small agricultural home business. There are so many things to prepare that you might not know where to even begin. Luckily, if you break it down into several steps, it becomes much easier.
Step 1: The Idea and How to Begin
Before launching your agricultural home business, you must focus on defining a specific business idea. You can take an agricultural home business in many directions, but you need to define your specific goals so that you can develop a relevant plan. For example, you need to decide whether you will focus on plants or animals, or maybe both. You might want to start urban crop cultivation, or maybe a small free range poultry farm. The process is quite different depending on what you choose.
You also need to know what your competition will be doing and plan how to become the best option on the market. Remember that this plan may change as you get more information about your market and your business idea. A good start would be to work or volunteer at another agricultural business so that you can learn more about the industry and processes.
Step 2: The Goals
As with every other business, you must think about your goals. Specify what species of plants or animals you want to work with, how you plan to sell your items and what your short-term and long-term growth objectives are. Some of the specific questions to ask yourself are related to:
• The desired profit
• How you will improve the environment
• How you will enhance quality of life for your customers
• Your personal goals
• Metrics for determining the overall farm welfare
• The need to hire employees
• Metrics for determining customer satisfaction
Step 3: The Research
As with any other business, research is everything. You can’t simply jump right in and begin producing or growing your product. You must know your market so that you can decide what to produce, who your target buyers are, how much they are willing to pay for your produce and more.
Be aware that all the information that you locate about your potential business may not be accurate or up to date. Pay attention to the date of the information and its source so that you can make an informed decision about its accuracy. Also, obtain research from multiple sources so that you can develop a rounded view. You might also want to invest into additional education before you start.
When searching online for information, pay attention to the type of URL. For example, .org, .edu and .com websites are typically more trustworthy. These may be websites that have information based on accurate research. Because agricultural news and market data varies by location, it is important that you find information that is relevant to your state.
Step 4: Laws, Regulations and Legal Requirements
Agricultural products and services are heavily regulated by different authorities. Before you plunge into business, make sure to inquire with your local city or county government about laws, regulations and legal requirements that you need to comply with. If possible, reach out to local agricultural home business owners to discuss their various challenges and complications in recent years.
Some of the specific factors to pay close attention to are inspections and business registration. Inspections may be random and unannounced, and you need to ensure that your business will pass inspections at any time. Registration may also be essential for compliance.
Step 5: Learning About the Details and Finding Proper Land
All business types have a cost associated with doing business, and the agricultural industry is no different. You need to find proper land to work on, estimate the cost to produce your product and determine whether your goals are feasible. When researching costs, focus on the cost to purchase and care for farm animals, the cost of equipment, the pest management requirements, irrigation needs, soil management and more.
When selecting your land, be aware that you can buy or lease land. While buying is generally a preferred option, it does lock you into a fixed expense for a long-term basis. Leasing may be a better idea until you get your business established.
Step 6: Financing
Very few people can start an agricultural home business using only their personal funds. Many will need to borrow money to buy or lease land, to purchase seeds or plants, to buy equipment and more. There is an extensive range of financing options available. These include government programs, bank loans, stewardship programs and more. Remember that you typically must have a business plan before seeking any type of external financing. Your business plan needs to have detailed financing statements and projects.
Step 7: Marketing
Growing a crop or raising livestock is only one aspect of many that are associated with running a successful agricultural business. You also need to decide how you plan to sell your projects. If you are taking organic products to a farmers’ market, for example, you need to rely on their marketing to draw visitors to the market.
You also need to use your own marketing efforts to draw visitors to your booth at the market. Some people start a farm shop on their own property. An increasingly popular option is to use a CSA, a Community Support Agriculture option. A CSA will sell your products locally on your behalf.
While you may initially be inclined to think that an agricultural home-based business is entirely centered on your produce, its success is in fact bound to the very same factors that every other business depends on, so developing a proper business plan, keeping on top of your finances and having a good marketing strategy is key to success.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.