Writing Your Business Plan
Whether you intend to borrow money or not, heading into a farm venture without a business plan is like setting sail across the ocean without a map. Either way, you’re likely to run into disasters that can derail your venture, but if you arm yourself with a business plan, you will at least have something to aid your farm decision-making and demonstrate to yourself and your family that your ideas are feasible. This intensive, fast-paced course is designed to help you build your plan quickly.
”The most valuable thing about this course was that it made me hash out and put on paper each section of my business plan. It is so easy to put business plan writing on the back burner, and this course made it move to the top of my to-do list and allowed me to get all my ideas and financials into one organized document.” –Courtney S, Paloma, CA
This course is geared for new farmers as well as those expanding or transitioning from one farm enterprise to another. Before enrolling in this course you should already know the type of farm you want, some short-term and longer-term farm business goals, and the geographic area or state where you intend to farm. You should have at least some first-hand experience with farming, including personal research into the type of farm you will operate. NOTE: If you are new to farming or are still exploring ideas, it may be helpful to take BF 101: Starting at Square One before enrolling in BF 202.
Upon completing this course, you will have a full business plan in a form ready to be implemented on the farm. The business plan may be used to guide you in decision-making in the course of running the farm business. Additionally, the business plan will be in a form ready to submit to a banker, private investor or grantor, in the event you are seeking outside funding.
Past graduates of BF 202 have gone on to obtain equipment and operating loans, and mortgages, for start-up and expanding farms.
The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from outside presenters, ask questions, and collaborate with other participants and the instructor to address your farm issues in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing. Access details will be posted in MOODLE once you have registered and logged in.
Rebecca Schuelke-Staehr co-owns Cayuga Pumpkin Barn and formerly worked for the NY Farm Viability Institute.
Steve Hadcock is the Beginning Farmer and Market Development Educator for the Capital Area Agricultural and Horticultural Program for Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Course is full for 2014 and will next be offered in Fall 2015.
- Week 1: Welcome and Introduction
Topics covered: Introductions. Overview of our online “campus” (Moodle), course outline, and business plan template.
- Week 2: Mission and Goals
Topics covered: Writing mission statement, goal statements, and background. Farmer guest speaker(s).
- Week 3: Organizational and Operational Plans
Topics covered: Writing organizational and operational plans. Guest speaker on farm business structure, defining job duties.
- Week 4: Marketing Planning
Topics covered: market channels, volume, pricing
- Week 5: Financial Statements
Topics covered: balance sheet, cash flow, profit and loss
- Week 6: Financial Statements (cont’d)
- Week 7: Wrap-Up
Topics covered: Final questions, reviewing plans