Why create a business plan?
For many beginning farmers, writing a business plan can seem like a chore, a necessary evil, or at worse, an insurmountable challenge that always falls to the bottom of the to-do list. For the lucky few, business planning is interesting, motivating, and fun. Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to write a business plan, consider why farmers need them—who are the potential audiences and why they are so important? We’ll also break down the components of a business plan into manageable bites, offer the best resources and examples we know of, and show you how writing a business plan is a creative act, akin to designing and building your farm. First things first, why is it so important for farmers to write business plans?
Convincing your Funders: Any person or entity who loans or gives a business money will want to see a business plan. Farms are no exception. These include banks, credit unions, the Farm Service Agency, and private entities. Most lenders require it, and will scrutinize business plans to see that farmers have considered potential risks, assessed their competition, understand their assets, products and human resources inside out, and developed a solid marketing plan.
Creating a Roadmap: Once farmers hit the ground, a solid business plan becomes invaluable. Whether the farm is run by an individual, a family, or a partnership, front loading planning and research will make for a smoother transition into running the business. Remember that business plans are working documents. Nothing written is set in stone. In fact, being nimble and responsive to internal and external changes makes farm businesses more successful.
Start Your Business Plan - A step by step guide for writing your own business plan.
Refine Your Business Plan - Guides and resources to make your business plan relevant for financing and other farm programs.
Resources for Business Planning - Additional resources to help you build an effective business plan.
Sample Business Plans - Examples of real farm business plans.