It is easy to underestimate the complexity of farming as a profession. But it is one of the more challenging entrepreneurial ventures. After all, farmers are at the mercy of the weather, any number of pests and the fickleness of pricing in a global economy.
In spite of the Farm-to-Fork movement, farmers are still not hot targets for angel and venture investors. However, to anyone who wants to support local businesses, know where their food comes from and eat more organically, farming is very important. And, with the right planning, farming can still support a family.
That is why I was so happy to accept the invitation from the Interfaith Food Shuttle’s Farm Stand Coordinator, Beth Dobosy to speak with some of their beginning farmers about the importance of business planning. This was actually my second time speaking to a group like this.
If they invite me again, I may have to schedule a special business planning course just for people in artisan foods or farming.
Farming is still a family affair. In the audience were two husband/wife teams and an aunt/niece team. It was obvous that, in spite of the challenges, these entrepreneurs had a passion for their businesses and were proud of their products.
I explained the contents of a standard business plan and the importance of actually having a written plan.
Like most small businesses, what a farmer needs most is customers. So, we spent most of our time discussing costing, pricing, marketing strategies and customer retention strategies. Since what they sell is consumable, they have an opportunity to create repeat customers. In fact, the survival of their business depends on it.
These entrepreneurs can use technology and social media to expand their reach and stay in touch with their customers. The successful farmer and artisan foods entrepreneur of the future must also develop deep skills in information techology tools and social media.
This is where high-tech meets high-touch. It is the best of both worlds.