How to write a business plan for agriculture and animal husbandry
A business plan is essential to get you on the ground before you start a farming business, no matter how you prepare for it. In today’s world, animal husbandry is more complex and more changeable than it was 100 years ago. This has been due to market changes, high costs, low profit margins, different ways of raising cattle, and specialized markets.
The type of business plan you write is up to you, but the following step-by-step process for creating a proper business plan will help you in the long run.
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Find paper, pencil, or a computer with Microsoft Word, One-Note, or a similar word processing program. This will allow you to write or type whatever comes to mind, including your goals and aspirations for starting a livestock business.
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Let’s start with brainstorming. You don’t have to turn a business plan into an unusual, abstruse, grammatically correct essay, nor are we talking about spelling or writing skills. Create a list of what you want to do, how you want to do it, and what you will do to make it the best it can be.
You must direct your brainstorming around your goals and objectives. It will be much more effective if you start any business with a goal to achieve it, and not a vague idea of ”doing something.” It just isn’t enough and certainly won’t move you forward!
As you think about your goals, remember that strategy is not the same as marketing. Your business strategy is how you will showcase your performance to your customers (your “value proposition”) and how you are going to convince potential customers of what they can get from you by reporting as a producer (or what makes you different from other farms or holdings) and why you can do it better than other producers (the anatomy of performance). The marketing plan should explain what communication strategy you will choose for existing and potential customers.
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Conduct a SWOT analysis. SWOT is a popular tool used in companies and economies to identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal or manageable features of the business. Opportunities and threats are external features that reveal a flaw in your business or industry control. To do a SWOT analysis, make a table with four columns labeled: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Place these titles at the top of each column. Or, if you think that this will be too tedious and inconvenient, then you can also use a separate page for each factor.
This analysis is very easy and flexible to use, as you can use it to analyze yourself, the business or industry you want to start your career in.
These four strategic planning factors should tell you what you can and cannot do, what you may need help from more professional and knowledgeable people, what you need to learn, what problems and limitations you may face in the agricultural business, and which will make it possible to become successful and profitable.
Remember that there are two forces that will affect you and you will need to analyze them:
Internal forces are forces that you control, such as breed selection, whether you want to run an intensive or extensive operation, how you will feed the animals, etc.
External forces are forces that you have no control over, such as the weather, the topography and soil type of the land you cultivate, local, national and international industry issues, market prices, product demand, and consumer preferences.
Do an internal SWOT analysis. Ask yourself what you are good at and what needs improvement, what you can do to improve yourself, and what might make you reconsider your views on agriculture. Also consider getting help from people who are more experienced than you in certain areas of your plan and add to your knowledge. Assistance can be from a veterinarian, an accountant who has experience in doing agricultural financial assessments, a building inspector, as well as a livestock breeder with more than 20 years of experience, etc.
Also analyze your farm, the land on which the farm stands, as well as the family. Ask such questions to the family, consider what can be done to encourage and teach children to be interested in your work, etc.
Do an external SWOT analysis of the types of livestock industry you plan to acquire, whether it be cattle or dairy farming, raising horses, pigs, birds, rams, or even exotic animals (such as bison, elk, or emus).