Marrying The Past, Present & Future: The Entrepreneurial Complexities Of Starting A Farming Business
Every business has its share of considerable challenges depending on the industry it is operating in. Your role, as an entrepreneur, is to source out the most viable business model. Of course, with something like the farming industry, it is deeply rooted in tradition, history, and a vast lineage. And now, with rising prices in commodities, such as milk, it seems that the atypical farmer is struggling to make their business profitable. There is a sense of clashing heads when you look at it from the perspective of an entrepreneur, and then from the perspective of a farmer. This culture clash can have a devastating impact on both sides. While the entrepreneur wants to make the most of a farming business, the farmer is concerned with the preservation of its own specific infrastructure. Many farmers now, especially the ones who are part of that lineage, that was passed down from father to son and so forth, are very reticent to jump into bed with any entrepreneur. Because, as expected, they will argue that you know nothing about what it really takes to run a farming business. So, if you’ve done your background research, and you consider the farming business model to be the most suitable one for you, what do you really need?
A true sense of empathy
Starting a farming business from scratch is a major task that isn’t without its fair share of complexities. As well as acquiring the land, as well as the finances, you need to make sure that you are putting enough time into the development of the business. This is where, from the perspective of any entrepreneur, a true understanding of what it takes to be a farmer comes in handy. Because there is a rich lineage in most farming operations, as it’s something that has been in a family for generations, you can’t simply turn up and swipe it, using it for your own means. Instead, you need to operate with a true sense of empathy towards the modern farmer. Every farmer in the contemporary landscape has their own anxieties. From the sustainability of the land, all the way through to the technological advances. While you may be forgiven for thinking that an old-school farmer is essentially a luddite in this respect, because this is their own business, and they have concerns about being taken over by machinery, you have this understanding in the modern landscape too. While the Internet Of Things, automation, as well as robotics are all rearing their heads now, it’s essential for you to communicate this sense of empathy with the farmer. If you have learned anything from your previous efforts as an entrepreneur, communication is the most fundamental process you have to iron out. And this is going to be your key to negotiating with reticent farmers.
Finding your niche
While most farmers are all about the beef and sheep aspect of farming. As well as cows, there are many other options for the budding farming entrepreneur. From vegetable farming, herb growing, or even fish farming, there are so many different options for your business. One of the biggest factors in defining your niche is the location. There are hundreds upon hundreds of options, but if you don’t have the background knowledge of what areas are suitable for certain aspects of farming, your business will go the way of many startups. For example, fruits and vegetables, a staple of most meals, are going the way of tropical fruit, as opposed to root vegetables. The global production of tropical fruit is expected to grow by 3% every year until 2024. So, when looking for a suitable location, it’s far better for you to think on a larger scale, because of the fact that every farming entrepreneur is going to source a specific niche for themselves. In one respect, there are so many different niche areas of farming, but also, it can be competitive depending on the area. Now, many farms have diversified their services, not just in terms of the livestock or produce, but they have had to start welcoming the public in for things like guided tours. This is a sustainable option in the modern farming world, but it’s an essential one.
Preparing it for success
The first thing to consider, once you have decided what you are going to farm, the land becomes integral to the whole operation. Much like an office for a standard business, your land becomes your base of operations, but it’s also the most important part of how you’re going to grow your business. Purchasing land, or leasing it is one of the dilemmas you face. If you purchase land, naturally, you have complete control over it, but by leasing land, you can cash in your chips and walk away at any point. If you are going down the leasing route, finding people who have land but are not doing anything with it is one of the better methods. Leasing land is very popular with new farmers, especially when it comes to something like financial risk. It’s a very popular business model, but there are still other options you can try out if you are averse to purchasing land, such as rooftop farming, and incubator farming. If you purchase your own land, making sure that the land has decent access to water, and is near to the sales channels are two things you need to put high on your priority list. But also, the soil quality is an essential process that you need to investigate first. Purchasing soil testing kits are one of the easiest ways to find out if the soil is good quality, and therefore, is going to yield a good quality return on investment. MartinLishman.com is one of the many suppliers of soil testing kits and by having appropriate predictions of fertilizer needs for certain crops, you can predict, to an extent, the dollar value of your investment when growing these crops. With regards to livestock, it’s vital you have a proper understanding of the quality of the soil, because it can have an impact on their overall health and gross. If this is the case, you may require additional supplementation. On top of this, the physical infrastructure and the facilities of the farm have to be constructed. With purchasing land, you need to make sure that the soil is good quality, but also the land is sustainable for housing livestock and produce. Builders like HelitechCCD.com can be helpful in this respect as they provide additional needs to support structures. Items like vibro stone columns help if there is issues with the land, either due to natural problems like earthquakes in a specific area or the soil lacks in sufficient pressure. On top of this, consider your neighboring farmers. It’s not just about getting along with your neighbors, but also making sure you’re not infringing on their business by taking their clients, but also by being an annoying neighbor!
The standard marketing processes
And on top of this, once you have acquired the financing, and the business is good to go, it’s now time to bring to the fore your skills as an entrepreneur. Of course, finding suitable staff members to work on the farm is a lengthy process, because you need people who are dedicated to the cause. You can consider outsourcing parts of your operation, which makes sense from the financial perspective, but in terms of how you find the right staff members to work, it’s much better to find people who can be invested into the business over a long period of time. As a result, this is where you need a proper relationship with the farming community. This is something that can take a long time to nurture, but it’s worth every second of your time. After you have the foundations in place, the marketing machine can start to run. Marketing a farming business is a different beast than if you were marketing a product towards customers common but you can find specific sales models through a CSA, or a Local Growers’ Cooperative, or you could go straight to a local supermarket. While the internet has made communication a lot easier with regards to selling products, in the farming industry, the old-fashioned methods of creating personal relationships with sellers are one of the most lucrative options you have. And with every investment, it can take some time for you to see a return. So, you could think about supplementing your income by inviting the public on to the premises.
The farming industry has a big question mark hanging over it right now, because, as with every industry now, there is a change from human help to machinery beginning to do a lot of the tasks. Throw into the mix the fact that many farmers are getting short-changed, this can create a lots of concerns about the industry as a whole. But, as an entrepreneur, it’s your duty to understand specific market trends, and create a suitable plan. The farming industry can be a lucrative prospect, and it’s an industry that is never going to go away. But it’s your prerogative to look into the future, and understand where the industry is going, and how it can marry with past processes, to create a more substantial business model in the upcoming years.