Formulate a Farm Strategy

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Developing an overall farm strategy is an important component of business development. This strategy includes a number of steps focused on market segments, attributes of those segments, and forming a strategy around the needs of each segment. Formulating a strategy is an ongoing process of discovery and creativity. Strategy formulation is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard either. 

Developing a strategy is a series of steps:

  • Gathering information and market research.
  • Analyzing the external and internal components of your business using the S.W.O.T. analysis.
  • Creating plans of action and identifying areas of competitive advantage.
  • Selecting the best plan that fits your overall farm mission.
  • Implementing and evaluating the strategy.

Framework for Strategy Development

Step 1: information gathering and market research.

Some small farmers already know exactly what it is they want to do, how they are going to do it, and why they want to do it. However, many farmers never take the time to consider what the customer wants, why the customer wants it or how the customer wants it. Many of these same farms never consider why their products or services would be sought after more than their competitors. The notion of creating and maintaining a “competitive advantage” is a key component of the strategy formulation. It is no surprise then that the first component of strategy building is information gathering and market research.

Market Research —Research your current and potential markets to identify trends, competitors, needs, and buyers. Be sure to take time to collect data. Obtaining good data serves as the foundation for the formulation of an effective strategy. The better the information, the better your strategic plan will be.

Never rely only on your opinion of what the market wants. There are a number of tools that you should consider using for your research:

  • Networking: A one-on-one interview can also be helpful for generating ideas. Do not forget to interview other business owners or operators who may be able to provide good information on what has or has not worked for them. Be sure to talk with similar farms and producers. Attending tradeshows, conferences, and business functions may provide an opportunity to meet, talk, and network about market trends. Sales representatives are also good sources of information.

Hint: Trade journals, census information, government studies, traffic surveys, and professional data sources can be helpful.

  • Observation: Simply taking time to observe can be a powerful tool. What are people buying? What are competitors offering?
  • Surveys: Surveys can be written or oral. A written survey can be distributed to a wide range of the population. Consider using an incentive to increase survey response rate, such as free products or coupons. 
  • Focus Groups: A small group of potential consumers who are asked specific questions about the product/service.

Step 2: S.W.O.T. analysis

S.w.o.t. is an acronym for: s trengths w eaknesses o pportunities t hreats.

The S.W.O.T. analysis is an analytical tool used to collect information and guide the decision making process in order to obtain strategic advantages.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Evaluation of the Internal Environment

  • The internal analysis identifies the strengths and weaknesses of your business. The strengths and weaknesses section is internal to the organization and provides insight into what components are available to provide for competitive advantages. When developing a strategic plan, the competitive advantages will be a key determinant of profitability.
  • Identifying weaknesses allows the organization to develop methods for improvement, and set priorities based upon future organizational direction. Examples of weaknesses include: internal operating problems, inexperience, lack of infrastructure, low worker productivity, old or obsolete technology, worn equipment and facilities, poor financial situation, bad community reputation, or inadequate leadership capacity.
  • The factors above may also be sources of strengths to the organization. For example: excellent operating efficiency, high worker productivity, leading edge technology, good financial standing, high industry reputation, excellent brand image, and effective leadership capacity.
  • The internal strengths and weaknesses allow the organization to acknowledge the factors it may need to build upon or exploit to gain a competitive edge in the external environment. Be open and honest with yourself about your operation.

Opportunities and Threats—Evaluation of the External Environment

  • This part of the S.W.O.T. analysis focuses upon the external opportunities and threats that exist. This section of the S.W.O.T. analysis allows the organization to identify strategies that take advantage of opportunities for growth while avoiding potential threats.
  • Opportunities and threats are external to the organization and thus cannot be changed by the organization. Rather the organization must change with and react to the changing external factors.
  • Examples of opportunities and threats include new markets, expanding markets, government regulations or incentives, new technology, increasing competition, lower or higher barriers to entry, or economic conditions.
  • A major focus of the external analysis is an evaluation of the competition. Chronicle all businesses competing in a similar area (product area and geographic area) as yours. List - who their main customers are, market share, product offerings, pricing objectives, and their perceived marketing strategy.

Step 3: Creating plans of action and identifying areas of competitive advantage

At this point, you have collected information and identified external opportunities and internal strengths. Now is the time to bring these two together and develop alternate plans that will capitalize on your farm business’s strengths and opportunities, and mitigate weaknesses and threats.

As you think through the strategic planning process, do not try to come up with the ultimate best strategy for your operation right from the start. You will need to consider all of the possible strategies you could employ based on the findings from the information discovery and S.W.O.T. analysis. Compare and contrast the competitive advantages each strategy may offer and select the best after you review all of the areas of competitive advantage. This should be an ongoing, creative process. If you find this phase difficult, break apart the process and start with information discovery first, followed by focusing on the marketing strategy phase

Things to think about when developing a plan of action:

Businesses will create competitive strategies to set themselves apart from others in the market. Types of competitive strategies can include least-cost and differentiation.

Least-cost strategy focuses primarily on the price or cost of the product. Being the least expensive in the market gains the product competitive advantage. This strategy is known for cutting input costs and often the product is a “no frills” product. This type of strategy is normally focused on efficiency of operations. Most commodity-based industries such as the grain industry utilize a best or least-cost strategy.

Generally small farms lack economies of scale and will not want to compete in a commodity market based solely on price. Instead, you will want to compete based on some unique or differing attribute that offers the customer perceived value.

A differentiation strategy distinguishes the differences of a product to make it more desirable to a specific market. The strategy focuses on goods and services needed to satisfy the customer where the value outweighs the increased cost. A differentiation strategy also sets your product apart from the competition, creating a competitive advantage by offering a unique or different product or service that other companies either cannot or will not offer.

The questions below will provide some tips for outlining a differentiation strategy including your product, attributes, and pricing:

  • What is unique or different about your farm business (products and/or services)? Unique attributes may include:  production methods, packaging, location, availability etc. What is the competitive advantage garnered from your strategy?
  • The product/service attributes should be unique enough that other competitors cannot easily copy it, but adequate enough to capture a sustainable market share.

Step 4: Selecting the best plan that fits your overall farm mission

It is now time to review the previous steps 1-3 and select the plan that best fits your overall farm business. Keep in mind your business’s strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats. Once all of the possibilities have been laid out and the best strategy chosen, be sure it fits with your farm mission and objectives. Can you see yourself doing this in 5-10 years?

The overall strategy is derived from component strategies including marketing strategy, production/operational strategy, financial strategy, and management strategy. Be sure to include the main components of marketing, production, finances, management, and your key competitive advantage points.

Step 5: Implementing and evaluating the strategy

An Implementation Plan is very important. This is how you will “get it done.” The section following the Management Plan focuses on how to implement your strategy.  

Explore Additional First Steps to Farming Topics

  • Business Planning
  • Enterprise Budgeting
  • Financial Planning
  • Land and Setting Up a Farmstead
  • Licenses, Permits and Certifications

Factsheets

Guidelines for Effective Farm Business Planning

Strategic planning is a process that managers must do to keep a business going long term. Why is strategic planning important for farming businesses? Strategic planning looks outward and inward at the business, considers all available resources, and evaluates past performances. It focuses on managing interactions with competitors, neighbors, government agencies, suppliers, customers, special interest groups, and others. The primary purpose of strategic planning is to keep the business in step with a changing environment. It anticipates the future and considers the future but does not attempt to predict it.

Objectives:

  • To establish guidelines that will assist producers in building a business plan.
  • To bring together all the individuals to establish this business plan,
  • To establish both short and long range business and personal goals.
  • To establish benchmarks that will measure performance and progress.

Strategic planning is long-range planning, as farming is a long term venture, and it looks at least five years, short and long term goals, records and benchmarks reviewed at least yearly. In order to be useful, a long-range farming plan needs to be flexible, and be a family project whose vision is shared by all. Characteristics of this strategic plan are:

  • It is a framework for responding effectively to your changing environment
  • It accesses long range business opportunities
  • It has a strong understanding of the business today
  • It organizes your thoughts
  • It focuses on the correct issues It is a Communication Vehicle
  • It concentrates on “Making Decisions”
  • It is “Action Oriented”

Strategic Planning will not “Guarantee Success” but it will greatly improve your chances at succeeding.

Why Do Few Producers Plan?

Although strategic planning can greatly improve communication and vision of a farm business and helps emphasize efforts in areas of importance or need, many producers do not plan. These reasons may include, but are not limited to:

  • Resources are limited
  • Future is uncertain and risky
  • Planning is not easy
  • May aggravate conflicts within family
  • Who should make decisions
  • Which goals should have priority
  • May make producers feel vulnerable
  • No one has all the answers
  • May not be able to gather or interpret all the information

The primary reason for not setting up a plan is probably the ability to set aside time. Some may say they can not afford to take the time, but successful business will say you can not afford not to take the time. It is a question of prioritizing what one feels is important and will help move the farm operation forward in the future.

Producers must remember that these plans are not carved in stone, but that they are a vehicle for calculated change. Strategic plans are crucial to every producer’s future. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your business allows you to match your strengths to available opportunities. This planning may not have a clear starting or stopping point. You should look 5, 10, 20 or more years into the future. As you do this formalize the process where you do the following in an organized manner.

  • Examine the current situation
  • Specify both farm and family goals
  • Identify and Implement Alternatives
  • Establish a record and analysis system
  • Monitor progress

Strategic planning, if implemented properly, involves a mechanism to adjust to changes while working towards defined goals. The plan anticipates that the farm operation will be modified as necessary to accomplish both farm and family goals. Simply discussing the future and potential changes in the business environment is not enough – making strategic planning an effective contributor to your overall business strategy involves putting it on paper.

Forming and Implementing the Farm Business Plan

To form a strategic plan, one needs to create the following:

A) Executive Summary

  • This will be the first page to read, but will also be the last page to write.
  • It serves as an abbreviated map of the future.
  • What would I like my farm to be like in the future?

B) Mission Statement

  • This section describes what you and your business are about.
  • Make the Mission Statement concise and memorable, relaying your personal and business philosophy.
  • Attitude toward risk and any other concerns should also be addressed.

C) Set Goals – Statement of what you intend to achieve

  • These include both business and family goals. When all key members (family and employees) share common goals, success rate is much higher.

D) Establish Specific Objectives

  • Objectives relate to how you are going to accomplish your goals.

E) Develop Performance Reports

F) Establish benchmarks that measure progress

G) Develop sound records

As you form your plan, remember the only thing for sure is change, so flexibility is key. Information management is paramount: ensure you gather it all, screen it, analyze it, use it, and store it for future retrieval and application.

Having a plan will increase the viability of the business by providing guidance for planning activities, keeping stakeholders well informed, helping when attempting to obtain financing, and improving overall communications. If a business is going to expand or go through a transition without a plan, the process will inevitably involve:

Wonder — Blunder — Thunder — Under

This fact sheet outlines a very simple approach to use to get started in preparing a business plan. The people that need to be involved in doing the planning, the goal setting, records and benchmarks all need to be completed is such a way that all stake holders have buy into the plan.

A more structured and detailed planning form may be obtained from the Center for Farm Financial Management 249 Classroom Office Building 1994 Buford Avenue University of Minnesota St. Paul, MN 55108 612-625-1964 800-234-1111 [email protected]

References : Teaching Strategic Farm Business Planning, Lamberton, MN. June 22 and 23, 2004, U of M Extension Service – Center for Farm Financial Management   Smith, T. R. Developing a Farm Business Plan. Dairy Strategies, LLC   Farm Transfer Options. Wealth Preservation, Inc.   Bauernfeind, J. Midwest Estate and Business Planning   Transferring the Farm Business: Beginning the Process. U of M Extension Service, Minnesota State Colleges & Universities   Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms & Rural Businesses. Developed by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture St. Paul, MN   Farm Business Planning. North Dakota State University. Department of Agricultural Economics   Gustafson, C. R., D. Saxowsky, L. Crane, and J. Samonson. Business Planning for your Farm. Ag Econ Department, North Dakota State University   The Sustainable Agriculture Network Beltsville, MO   Introduction to the Farm Business Planning and Analysis Program and Teaching Units Agricultural Education Service, State Department of Education and Department of Agricultural Education The Ohio State University

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Establishing Your Values and Purpose – Strategic Thinking for the Farm Business

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Farmers track and plan for evolving market conditions only to have a something like a global pandemic further disrupt markets and raise concerns of worker safety. Wisconsin farm leaders have adapted, and they continue to make decisions amid increasingly complex circumstances making it necessary to lead from a well-constructed strategy.

Most farm leaders stay on top of economic, social, environmental, and political happenings. They also get caught up in the day-to-day demands of an operation. When a strategic plan is in place, however, leaders can quickly assess operations and make decisions consistent with the plan. That’s because the strategic plan provides a clear sense of direction that makes the decision-making process less complex. It becomes their North Star.

Strategic planning is proactive. It prepares for the future before it arrives.

Strategic plans account for past experiences and current conditions to document a course of operation that will remain viable in whatever future happens. It is composed of several sections, like setting goals, inventorying resources, and implementing change. The most important part of a strategic plan, however, is the foundation that it’s built on—your organization’s values, vision, and mission.

Values: What you believe, reflected in how you act. The core principles you live by.

Vision: What you want your future to look like. The ideal future your organization is aspiring to reach.

Mission: How your organization acts and behaves in the present as it strives toward its vision.

Purpose: Why your organization exists.

Values Are Your Farm’s Fingerprint

Our values shape how we make the day-to-day and long-term decisions that affect our business and our future. Being able to define exactly what our personal, family, and business values are, allows us to understand more clearly our WHY—or what’s behind what motivates us and drives us to make decisions, accomplish goals, and be successful. Values establish our purpose and vision for the future.

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.” Elvis Presley

Your vision and mission are strongly influenced by your organization’s core values. If any one of them does not match your values, your organization will be less resilient. For this reason, identifying your organization’s values is a first step in strategic planning.  

Values are the core principles we live by.

  Values represent our closely held beliefs. Someone who values health will undoubtedly prioritize exercising, while someone who values community more than health might find it difficult to stick to an exercise regimen when others in their community need help. Whether we know it or not, our actions can often be traced back to our values. What’s more, when we make choices that conflict with our values, we experience distress. This conflict tends to be felt as dissatisfaction or anxiety and interferes with our motivation to achieve goals. It’s one reason so few of us stick to New Year’s resolutions. While we have the best intentions, they are often a mismatch with our values, which we tend to prioritize in our daily choices.

Values are who you are and what you believe.

Your values reflect the past that made you who you are and what you believe. They provide clues to help you understand why you are doing something. Do you value innovation or tradition? Do you value community or autonomy? Knowing why you choose one path over another is a key motivator for yourself and those you lead.

A business built on a foundation of commonly held values has a compass to guide it on the path toward its vision. Leading from your values has the power to inspire action toward a purpose, which in the case of strategic planning is your mission.

Discover your top values.

Because our values are so much of who we are and what we choose to do, they exert incredible influence on our decisions surrounding farm operations. A leader who values tradition may lean on time-tested techniques whereas a leader who values continuous improvement may regularly try new farming practices. So knowing your values and those of your business partners is a vital first step in developing a strategic plan.

Once your farm’s leadership team has identified your organization’s top three to five values, make sure to recall stories that demonstrate your commitment to those values. Values tend not to change much, so if you don’t already have stories that demonstrate a value, question if it’s a held value or a desired future value. Core values build up over time from important past experiences and life lessons. They are what you already believe. So it’s important your organization works toward its vision from currently held values.

Vision: The Ultimate Why

A vision statement is your main tool for inspiring yourself and others to contribute to your organization’s success. It sets a long-term direction that motivates internal partners and employees over time. Think of it as your organization’s point of destination over the next 5 to 10 years.

Vision statements don’t include specific milestones, revenue goals, or strategies for achieving these goals. They capture your passion for an ideal that your organization would work toward whether it took 10, 20, or 50 years to achieve. This ideal, your vision, inspires people because it embodies your hopes and dreams for a superior future.  

Notice that a vision statement is just that—a short and simple statement that is easy to remember. It is future-oriented, ambitious, inspirational, and aligns with your core values.

To create your vision statement, tap into your imagination to capture your passion for what you are trying to do, not your odds of achieving it. Think of the General Motor’s Vision Statement: “A world with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.” It’s simple, memorable, and a future that we can all get behind. Your vision does not have to change the world, but maybe it can better your piece of the world, like the Thornton Coffee Family Roasters example: “To become the leading premium specialty coffee roaster . . . in Southwest and West Portland and the West Portland suburban areas.”

Mission: The Here and Now. The How.

While a vision is your dream of the future, a mission is present-day reality. A mission statement, often synonymous with a purpose, highlights the main activities of a business, here and now, and how it plans to operate. Then, conduct that aligns with your mission statement shows that your organization is committed to working toward your vision.

Mission statements share what you do—and do not do—and how you do it. Think of mission control for space flights. Every mission specialist must know the core function (e.g., land a rover on Mars) and how the mission will be achieved. To be successful, everything that mission specialists do must work toward achieving that mission. If even one mission specialist deviates, it could be costly.

Your mission statement is just as important. It needs to capture your organization’s purpose and describe its core function, unique offerings, and intentions toward clients. The combination of these components describes your values in action and become the basis for decisions large and small. Consider these examples of mission statements. As you do, make note of the values they mention or infer.

  To include all the core components, mission statements tend to be longer than vision statements. While a mission statement can be entirely business-oriented, it can also incorporate a family’s goals and reflect on social values. Including personal and societal goals can trigger emotions that help inspire partners and workers to be mission-oriented.

Remember that your mission statement needs to align with your vision and your values. How you behave day-to-day and the actions you take either move you a step closer to your vision or further away from it.

Communicate Your Values, Vision, and Mission

It’s important to continuously communicate your values, vision, and mission. Lead by example. Remind yourself and others to make decisions that align with your organization’s values. Embed them into regular internal communications whether that be through emails, meetings, or employee training and then highlight behavior that reflects your core values. Finally, share your values and mission with clients and the public. They reflect who you are and what you believe and inspire others to share in your unique vision of the future.

The author confirms contributions to the article as follows: draft manuscript preparation and interactive media design and development–Connie Gill, Natural Resources Institute.

Author: Stephanie Plaster

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Beginning Farmers

Farm Business Planning

Farm Business Planning is key to beginning farmer success.

It helps beginning farmers :

  • Plan for the economic sustainability of a new farm enterprise.
  • Obtain funding to purchase land, equipment and other resources from lending institutions, investors and/or grant making agencies.
  • Articulate what their farm will look like.

On this page, we compiled free farm business planning resources to help you understand what a formal business plan is, and how to start planning your farm business. Sections include:

  • Developing a Farm Business Plan
  • Enterprise Budgeting

Enterprise budget resources are included on the farm business planning page because such tools are usually essential in helping you to develop your business plan.

Planning your farm business involves more than is outlined on this page alone. You’ll probably also be interested in funding (loans/grants) , farm incorporation , and risk management . Our  starting a farm page is worth visiting first. Also, you might find the following article helpful, because it touches on many farm business planning topics: Farm Products, What to Charge: Marketing, Price, Calculating Costs, Strategy and Much More .

developing a farm plan

1. Developing a Farm Business Plan

A  business plan  is a decision making tool that takes the form of a formal document. It states your business goals, why you think you can achieve them, and lays out your plan for doing so. Farm business planning is also a process, not an end product. A business plan is a work in progress, which farm business owners or operators will want to revisit regularly. 

Planning and Funding Your Farm Business  from the Cornell University Small Farms Project has lots of important and useful farm business planning resources.

Rural Businesses  is a web and print publication from the Minnesota institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA).

Building a Business Plan for Your Farm: Important First Steps  is a 20 page farm business planning publication that discusses the initial steps to help you move toward writing a formal business plan.

The Center for Agroecology has a Small Farm Business Planning publication that goes over many of the basics in a step by step format.

Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses is a farm business planning publication available from SARE.

Do I need a Business Plan for my Farm? is a web resource from the New England Small Farm Institute. It’s a great place to get started.

AgPlan  from the University of Minnesota helps rural business owners develop a business plan for free, while also offering sample business plans for ideas, and a way to print or download your plan.

Developing a Farm Business Plan includes several helpful resources from the USDA National Agricultural Library’s Rural Information Center.

Organic Farm Business Planning Page  from North Carolina State University features a number of publications and links related to financial planing for organic farmers.

Agricultural Business Planning Templates and Resources   is an ATTRA publication most relevant to smaller-scale or alternative agricultural entrepreneurs.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Resources offers comprehensive resources on Bookkeeping and Other Basics ; Cash Flow Budgeting and Managing Debt ; Small Farm and Ranch Income Taxes , and more.

Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business  has educational resources to explore, such as the New Ventures in Food and Agriculture in Indiana , which offers business planning assistance.

Purdue University Cooperative Extension offers strategic farm business planning tools for commercial farm producers.

Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences has many Business Planning tools and information.  Penn State Cooperative Extension has a Developing a Business Plan page. Penn State also has a Farm Business Plan Template that allows you to plug in your information and create a basic business plan.

The U.S. Small Business Administration  works with local partners to counsel, mentor and train small businesses. It is worth getting to know their programs and connect with your local office.

The Martindale Center Reference Desk has an extensive  compilation of links to calculators, applets, spreadsheets, courses, manuals, handbooks, simulations, animations, videos and more. Martindale’s Agriculture Center can be of great use to farmers making business plans.

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2. Enterprise Budgets

Enterprise budgets project costs and returns for a particular farm production practice. You can use enterprise budgets to make smart business management decisions, and to help you develop a viable business plan.

Enterprise Budgeting Tools of all sorts from the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, including organic crop budgeting tools, many vegetable budgeting tools, the crop conversion tool for side-by-side crop comparisons, specialty crop and livestock budgets, hydroponics budgets, wind calculators, composting calculators, manure calculators, distillers grain budgets, biomass calculators and specialty foods calculators.

Introduction to Farm Planning Budgets for New and Beginning Farmers (Virginia Tech)

Importance and Use of Enterprise Budgets in Agriculture   (University of Nevada)

Enterprise Budgeting (Kerr Center)

Organic Specific Enterprise Budgets

  • Enterprise Budgets and Production Costs for Organic Production (ATTRA)
  • Organic Crop Production Enterprise Budgets and Information   (Iowa State)
  • Organic Enterprise Budget (Kansas Rural Center)

More Enterprise Budget Pages and Information

  • Enterprise Budgets List (Virginia Cooperative Extension)
  • Dairy Sheep Enterprise Budget (Center for Integrated Ag Systems, UW-Madison)
  • Crop Budgets (University of Maryland)
  • Farm Management Enterprise Budgets (Ohio State)
  • Alabama Enterprise Budget Summaries (Alabama A&M and Auburn) 
  • Start developing your business plan with the resources at   https://www.beginningfarmers.org/farm-business-planning/
  • You can find more gr eat farming resources at   https://www.beginningfarmers.org/additional-farming-resources/

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The importance of strategic planning for farmers and ranchers.

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“God will not suffer man to have a knowledge of things to come; for if man had a foresight of his prosperity, he would be careless; and if he had an understanding of his adversity he would be despairing.”  This quote by St. Augustine contains the essence of why managers plan. The future is uncertain, and planning is a process for developing a stratagem for taking an offensive position regarding the future.

Planning, or more specifically, strategic planning, is a process of defining long-term goals and objectives of an organization and determining the best course of action to achieve them. It involves such steps as defining the current situation, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and developing a plan of action to take advantage of opportunities and overcome challenges. Parsons (2018) outlined six key components of a business plan and why a farm or ranch should make the effort to develop a business plan (Parsons, 2015).

In this article, I discuss two steps in planning that I believe make planning strategic: defining the mission of the business and assessing the external environment and its implications for the farm business.

Defining the Mission of the Business

A mission statement outlines the reason you are in business. Some may question the importance of developing a mission statement for a family farm or ranch. Afterall, you farm to produce a commodity that you hope to sell at a profit — what else is there to say? I agree that unless you are direct marketing to consumers, you probably don’t need to spend much time trying to develop a catchy mission statement that promotes your operation. But spending time periodically contemplating, and discussing with the family, why you are in the farming business can be an exercise in self-appraisal, expanding your horizon and setting the stage for developing creative strategies. As the oft-quoted, but not-totally-accurate, quote from Lewis Carroll's classic children's tale, “Alice in Wonderland,” states, “If you don't know where you want to go, then it doesn't matter which path you take.”

Because the mission of a family farm must be compatible with the individual’s and family’s objectives, it is beneficial to have these objectives embedded in the mission of the farm business. Doing so will also ensure that the decisions made on the operation will lead to fulfillment down the road.

For example, defining a business as “raise beef calves” compared to “market range resources to the general public” may make a difference in the alternatives which will likely be developed. If the business was defined as “raise beef calves” the alternative opportunities may revolve around backgrounding calves, maintaining ownership through the feedyard, or raising quality replacement heifers. Whereas if the definition or manager’s orientation was to “market range resources,” the mission lends itself to a mental framework that may also develop strategies such as dude ranching, game hunting, etc.

Assessing the External Environment

At the beginning of every new year, there are several prognosticators willing to share their view as to what the new year holds. While some are worth listening to and others are just trying to draw attention, it is important to take time during the planning process to examine the world around you. Understanding the needs and desires of consumers, the financial forecasts, the national and world political and economic environments, the input and output markets, the labor markets, new technologies, etc. can lead to positioning your operation for greater success. Trade and business magazines, news outlets, university outreach, and trade shows are just a few of the outlets that help you keep abreast of your business and economic environment.

It is nearly impossible to filter all the information about your business environment that you can gather into a simplified perspective of what the year holds in store. The purpose of this exercise, though, is to create a framework by which all strategies or possibilities can be more easily assessed. One possible way to do this is to identify factors that will have the greatest impact on your operation and create a few possible scenarios that are internally consistent and from which each strategy can be evaluated.

One of the best ways of incorporating an environmental assessment into your business is through SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. What external factors or opportunities could you leverage to your advantage?  What external factors may pose challenges or risks?  What internal factors place you at a disadvantage given the external environment and your competition? What are your operation’s (including your own) strengths that give you an advantage?  Looking at the strengths and weaknesses can also help identify why the operation may have fallen short of your stated goals and help distinguish what variables are critical to your success.

Several years ago, I met a young rancher who had been struggling financially to stay in business. One day he had an enlightenment that he could not keep doing things the way his grandfather did and be able to remain in business in today’s environment. He came to the realization that his grandfather was able to be successful because he was able to adapt to his own economic environment. This individual decided he needed to modify his management philosophy to better meet the challenges facing the ranch. He decided to no longer struggle to create value as measured by calves raised, pounds of beef sold, or tons of hay put up. Instead, he would work to capture economic value from the ranch wherever it was present. He would also simplify operations and lower costs. Success would be measured in terms of survival, dollars of profit, and quality of life.

To help meet cash flow needs, he sold half of his cow herd and pastured/managed cow-calf pairs for others. To get on top of his mortgage payment, he took some acreage with a scenic view and sold 40-acre lots, with the caveat that the new owner could only fence off one-acre and that the rancher maintained grazing rights to the other 39 acres. He also helped his annual cash flow by creating a working dude ranch where the guests stayed in trailer houses and worked on the ranch just as hired hands would. He questioned if this would work but had no trouble getting as many paying customers as he wanted. In short, his ranch would never have survived without looking at what his mission was and what the economic environment offered.

Strategic planning is a dynamic process that requires continuous adaptation to changing circumstances. It is not a one-time process. Effective strategic planning also benefits from input from various stakeholders, including family, partners, employees, and even customers, suppliers, and buyers. Furthermore, there is something miraculous about putting your strategic plan in writing and sharing it with those involved in the success of the operation.

References:

Parsons, J. 2015. “Why Develop a Business Plan?” University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Cornhusker Economics, February 18, 2015.

Parsons, J. 2018, “Six Key Components of a Farm or Ranch Business Plan.”  Cornhusker Economics, December 19, 2018.

Cite this work: Van Tassell, L. “The Importance of Strategic Planning for Farmers and Ranchers.” CAP Series 24-0201, Center for Agricultural Profitability, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Feb. 2, 2024. DOI: 10.32873/unl.dc.cap027 .

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The importance of strategic planning for farmers and ranchers.

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“God will not suffer man to have a knowledge of things to come; for if man had a foresight of his prosperity, he would be careless; and if he had an understanding of his adversity he would be despairing.”  This quote by St. Augustine contains the essence of why managers plan. The future is uncertain, and planning is a process for developing a stratagem for taking an offensive position regarding the future.

Planning, or more specifically, strategic planning, is a process of defining long-term goals and objectives of an organization and determining the best course of action to achieve them. It involves such steps as defining the current situation, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and developing a plan of action to take advantage of opportunities and overcome challenges. Parsons (2018) outlined six key components of a business plan and why a farm or ranch should make the effort to develop a business plan (Parsons, 2015).

In this Center for Agricultural Profitability article , CAP Director Larry Van Tassell discusses two steps that make planning strategic: defining the mission of the business, and assessing the external environment and its implications for the farm business.

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The importance of strategic planning in farm management

To be successful in farming, the modern farmer needs to grab both opportunities and challenges with the same enthusiasm, thereby adapting swiftly to the changes to the immediate and global agri markets. Success in farming requires an awareness of where you are as well as where you are heading. Thus, the farmer needs to have clear goals and direction in order to achieve sustainable success.

According to Earl Nightingale “Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal”. A worthy goal, as well as a process to achieve this goal, therefore predict success.

Strategic and operational planning in farming enterprises

Strategic management is the integration of all functions so as to pro-actively manage the total farming system in harmony with the internal and external environment towards achieving the long term goals of the farming business. It is about  pulling back the lens to get a big picture view and consider future scenarios. It gives you the best opportunity to maintain control, avoid serious pitfalls and capitalize on opportunities. Thinking strategically about your farming business involves creating a vision for where you intend to be in three, five and ten years. Operational Planning is putting the strategy to work through breaking the long- term goals and plans down into shorter terms objectives and action plans. It answers to questions such as “Who is doing what?”, “What are the day-to-day activities?”, “What are the labour requirements?”  and “How do we optimize our resources?”.

Farming goals must be developed in direct support of the envisaged future and should focus on key performance areas, such as: Financial goals; Growth/ Expansion goals; Personal goals; Succession planning to ensure a next generation of farmers, and sustainability goals. Each one of these goals must be Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Results-focused and have timelines, hence SMART. Smart goals are easily understood and managed.

STRATEGIC PLANNING AND FINANCE

Strategy and finance are interwoven and financial reports provide critical information about your farming enterprise’s financial position and its financial performance during the period of strategic execution. There are four main financial statements in a complete set and a farmer would need all of them to get the whole financial picture of your farming operation for that period of time. These statements are the balance sheet;  the income and expense statement; the cash flow statement, and the closing net worth statement.

Four key areas of measurement in the financial reports will be helpful in reviewing your strategy. These measures are indicators of success, as well as risk and would also form the platform for credit risk analysis.

Financial ratios can be useful in managing the farm business as it provide a check on the performance of assets and a warning as to potential areas or risk. Combining these ratios with an analysis of production costs and returns should provide a farmer with an excellent basis for decision – making. Though these ratios and margins do not guarantee success, planning according to them will improve the probability of success.

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Strategic Business Planning

Select a topic from below or scroll down to view all of our strategic business planning resources:

Business Planning

  • Contingency Planning

Goals & Objectives

Industry & competition, legal matters.

  • Indiana's Business Environment

Coming up with business plans and structuring a family business correctly are critical steps in the planning process. Doing these correctly can set the stage for a smooth and efficient business operation. Check out the business planner (interactive business planning program) along with publications to help you formulate your own business plan!

This website will help you write a business plan using a question-and-answer guided format.

Keywords:  business, planning

 INventure website

Keywords:   business, planning, guide

This article walks you through writing your own business plan!

VIEW WEBSITE

Keywords:   employee ownership, ESOP, employee stock ownership

This free, downloadable booklet features compelling stories, research results, and easy-access explanations of employee ownership and its potential to make our economy better. This site also contains additional resources, such as:

  • How an Employee Stock Ownership Plan Works
  • Using an Employee Stock Ownership Plan for Business Continuity
  • Key Studies on Employee Ownership and Corporate Performance
  • An Introduction to ESOPS, Understanding ESOPS, and Selling Your Business to an ESOP

Please note: once on the website, there is an option to download a free PDF version of this document in the description section of the page.

Craig Dobbins and Cole Ehmke

Keywords:   organizational structure, manager, business principles

If you have ever come across questions such as: “What are the jobs that need to be done within my business?” or “How are these jobs going to be divided up?”, this article can help. It helps to solve those questions by analyzing the functional organizational structure of a business. Key audiences include: owners and managers of a family business or small business.

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AICC Publication

Keywords:   business plan

This document provides an example of what content a business plan would usually include. For every section of the business plan, there is detailed information to guide you to write your own.

Cole Ehmke and Jay Akridge

Keywords:   business plan, entrepreneur

What should be included in a business plan? This article thoroughly explains the content of each section in a business plan and guides the readers step by step to develop a business plan. Sections for a plan should include business description, market analysis, competitor assessment, marketing plan, operating plan, financial plan, and executive summary.

Keywords:   assumptions, planning, venture

If you are an entrepreneur trying to develop plans for a new venture, you might need to make assumptions of how the business would operate and construct a business plan. This article will help you identify and avoid some important assumptions that might be harmful to your new venture. This article also shows how to thoroughly think though the planning process for the new venture.

Craig Dobbins, Allan Gray, Michael Boehlje, Alan Miller, and Cole Ehmke

Keywords:   strategic planning, business environment

Strategic planning involves making better decisions in order to reach a desired future. One of the key elements of strategic planning is recognizing and explicitly stating key assumptions about the future business environment. This article includes internal and external environment analysis which contributes to better strategic planning. Specifically, Porter’s Five Forces Model is introduced.

Contingency Planning​

It is always a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected. Whether it is the loss of an employee, loss of an owner, or an unexpected family emergency, contingency planning can help to minimize disruption for a family business.

Maria I. Marshall and Corinne Alexander

Keywords:   human resource, risk, contingency plan

Human resource risk is critical to business development, yet it is often overlooked by the managers. This article provides information on how to tackle human resource risk by developing a contingency plan for the business. Each specific section in the plan is further explained in this article to further help you with the development of it.

Purdue Extension/NCERME-Funded Project with collaborators: Renee Wiatt, Ariana Torres, Ed Farris, Kelly Heckaman, Michael Langemeier, Kyle Mandeville, Maria Marshall, and Jenna Nees

Keywords:  planning, managing risk, contingency planning

These resources help farms and agribusinesses to manage and evaluate risks that their farm/agribusiness face on topics of: human resources, finances, legal matters, production, social media, and marketing. Find all six resources below. 

Human Resource Checklist

Financial Checklist

Legal checklist

production checklist

Social Media checklist

marketing checklist

Purdue Extension

Keywords:   code red plan, business and farm operation

This resource helps you learn how to prevent a code red situation (i.e. if a business is unable to operate due to the loss of a key member) for your family, business or farm operation by having a completed Code Red plan. Topics included are passwords, bank account information, rental agreements, insurance papers and power of attorney documents and much more in one easy location. After completing the Code Red plan, family farms should turn a code red situation into a code green and the business can continue to operate on a daily basis. Code Red also can be a tool that helps families get motivated to get started on estate and/or succession planning.

Setting goals and objectives not only makes it clear to all involved what the business is striving for, but it also creates clear benchmarks that a family business wants to achieve. This page contains guides for setting goals and objectives but also helps family businesses establish their vision and mission.

Maria I. Marshall​

Keywords:   goals, objectives

The main purpose of this article is to help the readers write effective goals and objectives for their businesses. This article introduces the importance of having goals and objectives for the business.

Christy Lusk and Maria I. Marshall

Keywords:   goal setting, tracking progress

This article aims to provide beginning business managers the information about the purpose of setting goals, how to set those goals and how to track progress. Audiences of this article are expected to be able to understand how to use goals to identify tasks critical to the business’s success and also set up a tracking system for accomplishing them.

Keywords:   questionnaire

This is a self-check questionnaire.

Craig Dobbins

Most business owners understand the importance of setting goals for the businesses, but only 5% of them would actually do it. Why? Because it requires time commitment and hard work. In this article, detailed information about long-term goals and short-term objectives are provided to encourage business owners to set them in their everyday lives. This article also discusses the possible solutions to conflicting goals.

Family businesses must recognize and capitalize on the fact that they have a competitive advantage. What gives your family business an edge over others? Can alliances be made to help your business? Find out more here!

Allan Gray, Michael Boehlje, Craig, Dobbins, Cole Ehmke

Keywords:   analysis, competitive advantage, potentials, capabilities

When facing the changing environment around your business and other competitors in the industry, have you wondered: what is my farm’s competitive advantage? Well this article might be a good start for you to identify the potential and capabilities of your business. Specifically, this article help you find out the resources, and core competencies of the business, which are all critical to the internal analysis of the business. This publication also introduces The Value Plate, which is used to provide a framework for identifying the activities the business conducts to create value.

Cole Ehmke, Joan Fulton, and Jay Akridge

Keywords:   five forces, industry, analysis

Michael Porter’s five forces, which include bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of buyers, threat of new entrants, threat of substitutes, and rivalry among competitors, are widely used to assess the structure of any industry. This article will help you determine the competitive rules and strategies for your business. This article provides detailed information on how the analysis of each force could be done and how to apply it to your business.

Joan Fulton

Keywords:   producer alliance, investment, risks, five forces, strategic positioning, goals

More and more farmers are joining a producer alliance to move along the value chain and capture profits from other states. If you intend to join or already joined one, have you ever wondered about the following questions? Is the alliance a good business investment? Will the organizational structure work? Are there other goals for the alliance and do they compete with or complement the goal of business profitability? Porter’s Five Forces is used to help you approach these questions with clarity.

What licensing, regulatory, intellectual property rights and tax requirements does your family business need to consider? This page contains in-depth information regarding these matters.

Cole Ehmke and Jeffrey Williams

Keywords:   intellectual property, assets, patent, trademarks, copyright

This article aims to provide entrepreneurs with intellectual property (IP) assets information about three basic types of protectable IP assets and instructions in protection of those assets. Readers will be able to determine if an invention is patentable and also be able to begin IP protection process.

Christy L. Lusk and Maria I. Marshall

Keywords:   license, regulations, tax, agency directory

This checklist helps you identify all of the regulatory requirements for a new business. It is intended to make the administrative components of beginning a business in Indiana as simple as possible. The checklist is broken down into different sections to be better suitable for different specialties, including general regulatory information for all businesses, businesses with employees, businesses with environmental concerns, businesses at wholesale level, businesses at retail level and businesses with animal products. Additionally, this guide includes state- and county-level agency directories, a portion of Indiana Code detailing business structure registration requirements, and an index of additional requirements for specific occupational businesses.

Marketing a family business correctly can set a business up for success. By identifying key factors about your business’ products, you will be able to better market your business and your products.

Cole Ehmke, Joan Fulton and Christy L. Lusk

Keywords:   four P’s, marketing, customers

Are you a new entrepreneur who is getting ready to marketing your businesses? You may have heard about the four P’s of marketing, which are four critical elements in marketing a business and its products. The four P’s (product, price, place, promotion) are variables that play an important role in attracting customers in a market. This article provides detailed information about four P’s as well as practical worksheets that would further assist you in evaluating them.

Indiana's Business Environment​

How is Indiana different from other states? This page contains supplementary information about Indiana’s business environment, including populations, rural transportation, community banks, rural development, and more!

Francisco Albert Scott and Brigitte S. Waldorf

Keywords:   rural, startups, dynamics

This article provides data about business establishments in Indiana’s rural counties and has a focus for business startups. Data are interpreted in meaningful ways to aid on decision-making for local and state leaders as well as business starters in rural communities. Moreover, this paper looks at the business dynamics in rural Indiana in the years before, during, and after the Great Recession.

Freddie Barnard and Elizabeth Yeager

Keywords:   rural banking, community banks, rural Indiana

This article discusses the real possibility of not having a bank in certain rural counties and what implications that has for that county's residents. Rural Indiana residents have financial needs; and those needs seem to be shifting. Community banks can fill a void in rural communities by allowing access to banking services that would otherwise be absent from the county.

Kevin Camp and Janet Ayres

Keywords:   unemployment, rural Indiana, urban areas

Unemployment has been increasing faster in rural counties than in more urban counties, and not recovering as quickly. Unemployment rates help to measure overall economic health of a community. This article contains good visual aids that help to show how unemployment rates are in rural Indiana versus more urban areas.

Brigitte Waldorf, Janet Ayres, and Melissa McKendree

Keywords:   population, rural, community

Population size and characteristics are directly linked to a community’s viability and viability. This article provides analysis of rural population in Indiana and looks into the drivers of population change and the implications of these changes.

Janet Ayres, Brigitte Waldorf, Melissa McKendree, and Laura Hoelscher

Keywords:   rural, Indiana, rural communities

This paper defines the word “rural” and explains the complications involved in arriving at the definition provided. Also this paper provides a figure and a table to depict a picture of rural Indiana that lays the ground work for further discussion of the issues confronting the state. Local and state leaders who work with rural communities would find the information in this article helpful.

Kevin Camp and Brigitte Waldorf

Keywords:   education, deprivation, economy, employment, income

Educational attainment is important for individuals’ economic success. This article compares educational attainment levels for rural and urban areas in Indiana and provides implications of the educational deprivation with an emphasis on its relationship to employment and income.

V. Dimitra Pyrialakou, Brigitte Waldorf, and Konstantina Gkritza

Keywords:   rural Indiana, transportation challenges, public transportation

Transport needs can be a huge problem in rural areas; and rural Indiana is no different. When public transportation is not available, many people can be disadvantaged when it comes to such tasks as going to work, routine grocery shopping, and other appointments. There is a large transportation need gap in rural Indiana, but some can be mitigated by use of existing transport opportunities, extending the transport network and coordinating land use decisions.

Brigitte Waldorf and Melissa McKendree

Keywords:   aging, rural, population, challenges

This article explores whether rural Indiana is experiencing an aging of its population similar to that of the U.S. population as a whole. In addition, this article provides information about the causes and consequences of the population aging. Future challenges confronting rural communities are also a discussion at the end of the article.

Ann Cummins, Nicole Olynk Widmar, Joan Fulton and Candace Croney

Keywords:   animal agriculture, rural Indiana, agriculture

Indiana's economy is strengthened by the presence of agriculture in the state. People's views about agriculture and animal production can have great implications for the market. This article compares views on animal agriculture from those in urban areas versus those in rural areas. Implications of those findings are discussed.

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Sample Farm Business Plan

strategic planning for farm business

Writing a business plan is a crucial step in starting a farm. Not only does it provide structure and guidance for the future, but it also helps to create funding opportunities and attract potential investors. For aspiring farm business owners, having access to a sample farm business plan can be especially helpful in providing direction and gaining insight into how to draft their own farm business plan.

Download our Ultimate Farm Business Plan Template

Having a thorough business plan in place is critical for any successful farm venture. It will serve as the foundation for your operations, setting out the goals and objectives that will help guide your decisions and actions. A well-written business plan can give you clarity on realistic financial projections and help you secure financing from lenders or investors. A farm business plan example can be a great resource to draw upon when creating your own plan, making sure that all the key components are included in your document.

The farm business plan sample below will give you an idea of what one should look like. It is not as comprehensive and successful in raising capital for your farm as Growthink’s Ultimate Farm Business Plan Template , but it can help you write a farm business plan of your own.

Example – GreenAcres Harmony

Table of contents, executive summary, company overview, industry analysis, customer analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team, financial plan.

At GreenAcres Harmony, we are embarking on an ambitious journey to revolutionize the way Bostonians experience farm products. Based in the heart of Boston, our mission is to provide the community with fresh, sustainably grown produce that not only nourishes the body but also supports the environment. By harnessing innovative farming techniques and a commitment to sustainability, we aim to establish a strong connection with our customers, offering them a taste of what truly fresh, quality produce can be. Our farm is not just a place of business; it’s a beacon for environmental stewardship and a testament to the power of community engagement in fostering a healthier, greener future.

Our journey to date has been marked by significant accomplishments and a clear set of success factors that underscore our potential for growth. Our dedication to sustainable farming practices has not only set us apart in the industry but has also fostered a deep sense of trust and loyalty among our customers. Our strategic location in Boston provides us with direct access to a vibrant and growing market of health-conscious consumers. Furthermore, our team’s expertise in both agriculture and business management has been instrumental in navigating the complexities of the market and positioning GreenAcres Harmony as a leader in the sustainable agriculture space. These factors, combined with our commitment to quality and sustainability, lay a solid foundation for our future success.

The agricultural industry, particularly the segment focusing on sustainable and locally grown produce, is experiencing a significant surge in demand. This trend is driven by an increasing awareness of environmental issues and a growing commitment among consumers to support practices that are beneficial to the planet. In Boston, this shift is particularly evident, with more individuals seeking out farm-to-table experiences and prioritizing the freshness and sustainability of their food. This evolving market landscape presents an opportune moment for GreenAcres Harmony, as our core values and business model align perfectly with the current consumer trends. Our focus on sustainability, coupled with the high quality of our produce, positions us to capture a substantial share of this growing market.

Our target customers are health-conscious individuals and families residing in Boston who prioritize quality, freshness, and sustainability in their food choices. These consumers are typically well-informed about the benefits of locally grown produce and are willing to invest in products that support their health and environmental values. Additionally, we cater to local businesses, such as restaurants and cafes, looking to enhance their menus with fresh, high-quality ingredients. Understanding the preferences and values of our target customers enables us to tailor our offerings and marketing strategies to meet their specific needs, fostering a loyal customer base committed to supporting local, sustainable agriculture.

Top Competitors: – Local Organic Farms: Offering a similar range of fresh, organic produce. – Big Agriculture: Competing on price and scale but lacking in local and sustainable practices.

Competitive Advantages: Our competitive edge lies in our unwavering commitment to sustainability and the quality of our produce. Unlike big agricultural companies, we focus on local, sustainable farming practices that resonate with our target market. Additionally, our direct engagement with the community through farm-to-table events and partnerships with local businesses sets us apart, creating a unique brand experience that cannot be replicated by our competitors.

Our marketing strategy emphasizes the exceptional quality, sustainability, and community focus of our products and services. By leveraging a robust online presence, including social media and a user-friendly website, we aim to connect with our customers on a deeper level, sharing our story and the benefits of sustainable farming. Our promotional efforts extend beyond the digital realm, with community engagement initiatives, participation in local farmers’ markets, and partnerships with local restaurants and cafes playing a crucial role in building our brand and expanding our reach. These efforts are complemented by public relations campaigns and sponsorships of community events, all designed to enhance our visibility and reputation in the market. Through a combination of online marketing, community engagement, and strategic partnerships, we aim to position GreenAcres Harmony as the go-to source for fresh, locally grown produce in Boston.

Our operations are centered around ensuring the highest quality and sustainability of our farm products. Key operational processes include sustainable farming practices, efficient supply chain management, and effective quality control measures. Milestones to be accomplished involve expanding our product range, increasing our market reach through partnerships, and achieving specific sustainability certifications that further validate our commitment to environmental stewardship. These operational strategies and milestones are designed to optimize our farm’s productivity and impact, ensuring that we not only meet but exceed our customers’ expectations.

Our management team comprises seasoned professionals with extensive experience in agriculture, business management, and sustainability. This diverse skill set ensures a holistic approach to running GreenAcres Harmony, from the day-to-day farm operations to strategic business planning and sustainability initiatives. Our team’s passion for sustainable agriculture and commitment to our community’s well-being are the driving forces behind our farm’s mission, guiding us towards achieving our goal of becoming a leader in sustainable farming in Boston.

Welcome to GreenAcres Harmony, a novel agricultural endeavor situated in the heart of Boston, MA. As a newly established farm, we pride ourselves on being a local source of high-quality produce and farm products. Recognizing the scarcity of premium local farms in our area, we have stepped up to fill this vital gap, aiming to serve the residents of Boston with the freshest and finest agricultural goods.

At GreenAcres Harmony, our offerings are diverse and cater to a wide range of dietary and culinary needs. Our product line includes a variety of fresh produce, ensuring that our customers have access to vegetables and fruits that are not only local but also surpass conventional quality standards. In addition to produce, we provide an assortment of dairy products, eggs, and meat products, all sourced from our farm where ethical and sustainable farming practices are paramount. Our apiary also allows us to supply honey, a natural sweetener and a kitchen staple for many of our customers. Our commitment to quality and freshness sets us apart and ensures that every item we sell is of the highest standard.

Located in the bustling city of Boston, MA, GreenAcres Harmony is strategically positioned to serve the local community efficiently. Our presence in Boston enables us to maintain close relationships with our customers, ensuring that we remain attuned to their needs and preferences. This proximity to our customer base is not just a logistical advantage but also fosters a sense of community and mutual support, which is central to our ethos.

Our confidence in the success of GreenAcres Harmony is grounded in several key factors. Firstly, our founder brings invaluable experience from previously running a successful farm, equipping us with the knowledge and skills necessary for our venture. Moreover, we stand out from our competitors by offering fresher and superior quality produce, dairy, eggs, meat, and honey. This commitment to excellence is what we believe will endear us to our customers and ensure our longevity in the market.

Since our inception on January 4, 2024, as a S Corporation, we have achieved several milestones that underscore our potential for success. Notably, we have developed a distinctive logo and company name that reflect our brand’s ethos and values. Additionally, we have secured an ideal location that not only facilitates our farming operations but also enhances our accessibility to customers. These accomplishments, while early in our journey, are indicative of our strategic approach and our dedication to establishing GreenAcres Harmony as a cornerstone of the Boston community.

The Farm industry in the United States is a significant sector of the economy, with a market size of over $400 billion. This industry includes a wide range of activities such as crop production, livestock farming, and agricultural services. The market size of the Farm industry is expected to continue growing steadily in the coming years, driven by increasing demand for food products, technological advancements in agriculture, and government support for the sector.

One of the key trends in the Farm industry is the growing popularity of organic and sustainable farming practices. Consumers are becoming more conscious of where their food comes from and are increasingly seeking out products that are produced in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner. This trend bodes well for GreenAcres Harmony, as a new Farm serving customers in Boston, MA, that focuses on sustainable farming methods and offers organic produce to its customers.

Another trend in the Farm industry is the increasing focus on local food production and distribution. Consumers are showing a preference for locally grown and sourced products, as they are perceived to be fresher, healthier, and better for the environment. GreenAcres Harmony, being located in Boston, MA, is well-positioned to take advantage of this trend by providing locally grown produce to its customers and establishing strong relationships with local restaurants, markets, and consumers.

Below is a description of our target customers and their core needs.

Target Customers

GreenAcres Harmony will target local residents in Boston, MA, who are increasingly seeking fresh, locally-sourced produce for their daily nutrition needs. This customer segment values sustainability and is willing to pay a premium for food that is grown in an environmentally friendly manner. By offering a range of organic fruits, vegetables, and other farm products, GreenAcres Harmony will cater to this growing demand among health-conscious consumers.

The farm will also attract families looking for fresh, high-quality ingredients to prepare their meals. Parents concerned with the nutritional value of their children’s diet will find GreenAcres Harmony’s offerings particularly appealing. The farm will tailor its product range to include kid-friendly options, making it easier for families to incorporate healthy eating habits into their routines.

In addition to serving individual consumers, GreenAcres Harmony will target local restaurants and small grocery stores seeking to differentiate themselves by offering locally-sourced, organic produce. Establishing partnerships with these businesses will not only expand the farm’s market reach but also strengthen the local food ecosystem in Boston, MA. This strategy will enable GreenAcres Harmony to become a key player in the community’s sustainable food movement.

Customer Needs

GreenAcres Harmony caters to the growing demand for high-quality fresh produce among Boston residents. Customers can expect a range of farm-fresh vegetables and fruits, harvested at the peak of their ripeness, ensuring maximum flavor and nutritional value. This emphasis on quality meets the desires of health-conscious consumers looking for nutritious food options.

In addition to fresh produce, GreenAcres Harmony provides a variety of dairy products, eggs, meat products, and honey, satisfying a broad spectrum of dietary preferences and needs. Customers appreciate the convenience of accessing a wide array of farm-to-table essentials under one roof. This variety ensures that households can enjoy fresh, wholesome meals, contributing to a healthier lifestyle.

Furthermore, GreenAcres Harmony understands the importance of ethical and sustainable farming practices in today’s environmentally aware society. Customers can trust that the products they purchase are produced with respect for the environment and animal welfare. This commitment not only fulfills the need for responsible consumption but also aligns with the values of many Boston residents, making GreenAcres Harmony a preferred choice for discerning shoppers.

GreenAcres Harmony’s competitors include the following companies:

Wilson Farm is known for its wide range of produce, including fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and bakery items. They operate on a large scale and their products are available at competitive price points, making them accessible to a broad customer base. Wilson Farm is located in Lexington, MA, and serves the Greater Boston area, attracting customers looking for high-quality, locally-sourced food products. One of their key strengths is their reputation for quality and freshness, as well as their ability to offer a wide variety of products year-round. However, their size and focus on a broad market can sometimes lead to a less personalized shopping experience for customers seeking niche or artisanal products.

Meadow Mist Farm specializes in grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, and a selection of dairy products, including artisanal cheeses. They are based in Lexington, MA, and cater to customers prioritizing ethically raised and organic products. Their products are priced at a premium, reflecting the quality and sustainable farming practices used. Meadow Mist Farm serves a niche market of health-conscious consumers and those interested in supporting local, sustainable agriculture. Their key strength is their commitment to environmental stewardship and animal welfare, which resonates well with their target customer segment. However, their focus on a specific range of products and higher price points may limit their appeal to a broader audience.

Pakeen Farm, located in Canton, MA, offers a unique blend of products and services, including a pick-your-own operation for fruits like apples and pumpkins, a Christmas tree farm, and a farm stand selling a variety of local produce and goods. They serve customers in the Greater Boston area looking for family-friendly agricultural experiences as well as high-quality, locally-grown produce. Pakeen Farm’s pricing is competitive, especially for activities and experiences, which attracts a diverse customer base. Their strength lies in their ability to provide a multifaceted farm experience that combines retail with agri-tourism. However, their seasonal operations and dependence on weather conditions can be seen as a weakness, as it may affect their revenue and customer flow outside of peak seasons.

Competitive Advantages

At GreenAcres Harmony, we take pride in offering fresher and better quality fresh produce, dairy products, eggs, meat products, and honey compared to our competitors. Our commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly farming practices not only ensures the health and safety of our customers but also contributes to the preservation of our planet. We utilize organic farming techniques that enhance the nutritional value and taste of our products, making them superior in every aspect. Our close proximity to Boston allows us to deliver our products fresh, ensuring that our customers enjoy the full flavor and benefits of our offerings. This direct farm-to-table approach minimizes the time between harvest and consumption, which is a key factor in maintaining the freshness and quality of our products.

In addition to our premium product offerings, our innovative business model incorporates a customer-centric approach that sets us apart. We engage with our customers through community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, farm tours, and educational workshops that foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for sustainable farming practices. By doing so, we not only build a strong, loyal customer base but also create a sense of community around our brand. Our dedication to transparency and ethical farming practices resonates with consumers who are increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impact of their purchasing decisions. Furthermore, our use of technology and data analytics allows us to optimize our operations and tailor our offerings to meet the specific needs and preferences of our customers, providing us with a significant competitive advantage in the Boston market.

Our marketing plan, included below, details our products/services, pricing and promotions plan.

Products and Services

At the heart of GreenAcres Harmony’s offerings is a wide range of fresh produce, encompassing everything from leafy greens to succulent fruits and crisp vegetables. This diverse selection caters to the needs of health-conscious consumers seeking nutrient-rich options. Prices for their fresh produce generally range from $2 to $4 per pound, reflecting both the quality and freshness that the farm prides itself on.

In addition to fresh produce, GreenAcres Harmony provides a variety of dairy products. Their range includes fresh milk, cheese, and yogurt, all produced from cows and goats raised in a natural and healthy environment. The prices for their dairy products are competitive, with milk selling for around $4 per half gallon, cheese priced at $6-$10 per pound depending on the variety, and yogurt at $5 per quart. These products are not only a testament to the farm’s commitment to quality but also to their dedication to sustainable farming practices.

Eggs are another staple at GreenAcres Harmony, offering consumers the choice of purchasing eggs sourced from chickens that roam freely in pastures. This free-range approach ensures that the eggs are not only fresher but also richer in nutrients compared to those from caged birds. The average price for a dozen eggs is set at $5, which is a reflection of their quality and the ethical farming practices employed by GreenAcres Harmony.

For those interested in meat products, GreenAcres Harmony offers a selection of beef, pork, and poultry. All their livestock are raised in a stress-free environment, allowing them to grow at a natural pace without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics. This results in meat that is not only healthier but also more flavorful. The prices for their meat products vary, with beef priced at around $10 per pound, pork at $8 per pound, and poultry at $6 per pound. These prices are indicative of the farm’s commitment to providing high-quality, sustainable, and ethically raised meat to the community.

Finally, GreenAcres Harmony produces honey, a sweet addition to their product lineup. Their honey comes from bees that pollinate the very crops and flowers on the farm, ensuring a product that is pure and of high quality. A 12-ounce jar of honey is priced at approximately $8, offering a natural sweetener option that supports local agriculture and promotes the health of the local ecosystem.

Overall, GreenAcres Harmony’s range of products and services is designed to meet the growing demand for locally sourced, sustainable, and ethical food choices. Their pricing strategy reflects their commitment to quality, sustainability, and the support of local agriculture, making them a valued addition to the Boston community.

Promotions Plan

GreenAcres Harmony embarks on an ambitious journey to captivate the hearts and palates of Bostonians with its array of fresh, sustainably grown farm products. Recognizing the vast potential and the competitive nature of the market, the farm employs a multifaceted promotional strategy designed to create a strong brand presence, foster community engagement, and drive sales. At the core of these efforts lies a robust online marketing strategy, complemented by a variety of other innovative promotional tactics.

Online marketing emerges as a pivotal component of GreenAcres Harmony’s promotional arsenal. The farm will leverage the power of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to connect with potential customers, share the farm’s story, and showcase its products through visually appealing content and engaging stories. Email marketing campaigns will serve as a direct channel to communicate with subscribers, offering them exclusive insights, promotions, and updates on the farm’s offerings. Furthermore, a user-friendly website will act as the digital storefront for GreenAcres Harmony, featuring an online shop where customers can conveniently purchase products, learn about sustainable farming practices, and stay informed about upcoming events and workshops.

Yet, online marketing is just the beginning. GreenAcres Harmony will also invest in community engagement initiatives to build meaningful relationships with local residents and businesses. Hosting farm-to-table events, workshops, and tours on-site will invite the community to experience the farm’s operations firsthand, fostering a deeper connection with the brand. Partnerships with local restaurants and cafes to supply fresh produce will not only expand the farm’s reach but also underscore its commitment to supporting local economies and sustainability.

To further amplify its visibility, GreenAcres Harmony will participate in local farmers’ markets and food festivals. These events offer invaluable opportunities to engage directly with customers, receive immediate feedback, and increase brand recognition through face-to-face interactions. Offering product samples and showcasing the quality and freshness of its produce will help GreenAcres Harmony stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Additionally, public relations efforts will play a crucial role in boosting the farm’s profile. Crafting press releases and working with local media outlets to feature stories about GreenAcres Harmony’s initiatives, achievements, and contributions to the community will enhance its reputation and credibility among consumers. Sponsoring local community events and initiatives will further demonstrate the farm’s commitment to giving back and supporting the well-being of its community.

In conclusion, GreenAcres Harmony’s promotional strategy is a comprehensive blend of online marketing, community engagement, participation in local events, and public relations efforts. By effectively implementing these tactics, GreenAcres Harmony expects to attract a loyal customer base, increase its market share, and contribute positively to the sustainability and health of the Boston community.

Our Operations Plan details:

  • The key day-to-day processes that our business performs to serve our customers
  • The key business milestones that our company expects to accomplish as we grow

Key Operational Processes

To ensure the success of GreenAcres Harmony, there are several key day-to-day operational processes that we will perform.

  • Monitoring and Adjusting Crop Health: We continuously monitor the health of our crops, using both traditional methods and modern technology. This includes checking for pests, diseases, and ensuring optimal soil conditions. Any issues are addressed immediately to prevent crop loss.
  • Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling: Daily assessments determine which crops are ready for harvest. We then follow strict post-harvest handling protocols to ensure the produce remains fresh and high-quality until it reaches the customer.
  • Order Fulfillment and Delivery: We process customer orders promptly, organizing and packing produce for delivery. Our delivery system is optimized for efficiency, ensuring customers in Boston, MA, receive their orders in a timely manner.
  • Customer Service and Feedback: We maintain open lines of communication with our customers for inquiries and feedback. This helps us improve our services and resolve any issues swiftly.
  • Inventory Management: We manage our inventory closely, tracking produce availability and supply levels to meet customer demand without overproducing. This process includes forecasting demand based on historical data and current trends.
  • Quality Control: Every batch of produce undergoes quality control checks to ensure it meets our high standards. This includes visual inspections and, if necessary, taste tests.
  • Financial Management: Daily financial transactions are recorded and analyzed. This includes tracking income from sales and managing expenses such as labor, seeds, and equipment maintenance.
  • Equipment and Infrastructure Maintenance: Regular maintenance checks and repairs of our farming equipment and infrastructure ensure that operations run smoothly and efficiently without unexpected disruptions.
  • Marketing and Promotions: We engage in daily marketing activities to promote our farm and its products. This includes social media updates, email newsletters, and participation in local food markets.
  • Compliance and Sustainability Practices: We ensure all farming practices comply with local regulations and strive for sustainability. This involves water conservation, using organic farming methods, and reducing waste.

GreenAcres Harmony expects to complete the following milestones in the coming months in order to ensure its success:

  • Secure the Farm Location: Finalize the acquisition or lease of agricultural land within a reasonable distance from Boston, MA, ensuring that the land is fertile and suitable for the types of crops and livestock GreenAcres Harmony intends to produce.
  • Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses: Navigate through local, state, and federal regulations to acquire all necessary permits and licenses required for farming operations, including but not limited to environmental, health, and business operating permits.
  • Build and Prepare Farm Infrastructure: Develop the necessary farm infrastructure, including irrigation systems, greenhouses, livestock enclosures, and storage facilities, ensuring that all structures are built to meet or exceed industry standards for sustainability and efficiency.
  • Launch Our Farm: Officially start farming operations by planting the first crops and/or acquiring the first batch of livestock. This launch includes initiating marketing efforts to build brand awareness within the target market of Boston, MA.
  • Establish Distribution Channels: Forge relationships with local markets, restaurants, and food distributors in the Boston area, as well as setting up an online sales platform, to ensure that GreenAcres Harmony has multiple avenues for selling its products directly to consumers and through B2B sales.
  • Implement Sustainable Practices: Fully integrate sustainable and eco-friendly farming practices into daily operations, such as composting, organic farming, water conservation techniques, and renewable energy use, to not only mitigate environmental impact but also to appeal to eco-conscious consumers.
  • Reach $15,000/Month in Revenue: Achieve the financial milestone of generating at least $15,000 in monthly sales from the sale of produce and livestock. This goal is critical for demonstrating the farm’s viability and supporting further growth and investment.
  • Develop a Loyal Customer Base: Through quality products, excellent customer service, and community engagement, build a loyal customer base that not only regularly purchases GreenAcres Harmony products but also advocates for the brand within their networks.
  • Evaluate and Expand Product Lines: Based on customer feedback and market demand, periodically evaluate the farm’s product offerings and consider expanding into new crops, livestock, or value-added products such as jams, cheeses, or meats to diversify income sources and meet market needs. Completing these milestones will position GreenAcres Harmony for long-term success by ensuring operational efficiency, regulatory compliance, market presence, and financial stability.

GreenAcres Harmony management team, which includes the following members, has the experience and expertise to successfully execute on our business plan:

Chloe King, President

Chloe King, President, brings a wealth of experience to GreenAcres Harmony, backed by a proven track record of success in the agricultural sector. Having successfully managed a farm previously, Chloe possesses a deep understanding of the operational, financial, and strategic facets of running a sustainable agricultural business. Her leadership skills, combined with her hands-on experience in farm management, position her perfectly to steer GreenAcres Harmony toward achieving its mission of sustainable farming and community engagement. Chloe’s ability to navigate the challenges of agricultural business, from crop production to market strategies, makes her an invaluable asset to the team and a key player in ensuring the long-term success of GreenAcres Harmony.

To reach our growth goals, GreenAcres Harmony requires significant financial investment. This funding will be allocated towards expanding our farming operations, enhancing our marketing efforts, and further developing our sustainability initiatives. Our financial plan outlines the need for capital investment to support these areas, ensuring that we can continue to provide our customers with high-quality, sustainable produce while also expanding our reach and impact within the community.

Financial Statements

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Income Statement

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Cash Flow Statement

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Strategic Planning for Farm Businesses

Don hofstrand ( may, 2016 ).

Strategic Planning for Farm Businesses

Strategic planning involves the development of long-term strategies to increase the profitability and competitiveness of your farm business. This may involve developing new enterprises for your farm such as organic production, on-farm processing, direct marketing of your products to consumers, or the efficient production of traditional farm commodities.

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  • Strategic & Business Planning

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Farm business strategic planning: A sheep and beef perspective

Executive summary.

Farming livestock in New Zealand is becoming increasingly exposed to global and national economic, social, environmental and regulatory trends. Going forward there is increasing pressure from the public and consumers to preserve or ideally improve soil health, water quality and biodiversity, while ensuring that the food we produce is safe and nutritious, animals are treated ethically, and we are reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Pressure is building towards significant change from the current situation. Sheep and beef farming is not immune to this pressure.

What will sheep and beef farming look like in 2050; what are the challenges and opportunities farm businesses and communities will face between then and now?

As a farming business, we need to look at where our farming operation is now and make some decisions about where we would like it to be in the future. We need to lift our level of awareness and contemplate how our farm might operate – what it might produce – we need a whole farm business strategy.

There needs to be a definitive “picture” and agreement of how the business owners view success. We then need look at how we best optimise the resources – land, people, animals and infrastructure to achieve that success.

Having a clearly defined business strategy acts like a road map in times of challenge and is an important tool for any business to navigate their way.

This research sets out to define what is strategy, it looks at a snapshot of how strategy or long-term planning is performed in sheep and beef farming businesses today. It makes suggestions as to the key components of strategic planning and proposes a basic template for businesses considering their long-term future.

The motivation to undertake this research assumes that better awareness of the future, and planning for the future is a positive action that will better enable individuals, communities and the wider farming industry to respond to change proactively. It will allow us to seize opportunities that may otherwise have been missed and to sense and manage threats in a more timely fashion.

One of the benefits of strategic planning is a shift in mindset away from issue-specific discussions towards more holistic and long-term planning around the future of farming. With increased awareness and longer term thinking I believe that our industry can evolve and thrive under the care of future generations.

Our programmes work in partnership with some of New Zealand’s leading agribusiness organisations – click here for more.​

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Why Isn’t Your Strategy Sticking?

  • Andrea Belk Olson

strategic planning for farm business

How to identify the hidden obstacles that may thwart implementation — and address them before they take root.

It’s insufficient to just share the goals and objectives of your strategy and hope implementation will succeed. In this article, the author explains how to shift from an operational to a contextual mindset so that you can better identify the hidden obstacles that may be thwarting your strategy’s implementation so you can address them before they take root.

In 1992, Robert Kaplan and David Norton identified four barriers to effective strategy implementation : lack of understanding, lack of communication, disconnected incentives, and disconnected budgets. Over the decades, other experts have expanded on this list, identifying additional barriers including unaligned goals, insufficient resources, and inadequate performance tracking. Yet successful strategy implementation is still an ongoing struggle today. Are leaders simply not communicating well enough? Or does the intrinsic problem lie elsewhere?

strategic planning for farm business

  • Andrea Belk Olson is a differentiation strategist , speaker, author, and customer-centricity expert. She is the CEO of Pragmadik, a behavioral science driven change agency, and has served as an outside consultant for EY and McKinsey. She is the author of 3 books, a 4-time ADDY® award winner, and contributing author for Entrepreneur Magazine , Rotman Management Magazine, Chief Executive Magazine , and Customer Experience Magazine .

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How to build an effective data strategy.

Forbes Technology Council

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Michael Meucci , President and CEO, Arcadia.

In an era where data is the new currency, establishing the right data foundation and strategy is not just a technological upgrade but a business imperative.

A recent study conducted by Arcadia and HIMSS found that healthcare leaders consider data fragmentation, availability and recency among the most common barriers to success. This problem, however, plagues organizations across industries and is exacerbated by reliance on outdated technology.

Being unable to solve these challenges often results in significant opportunity costs and slows progress. Such “baggage” can also hinder an organization’s ability to leverage advancements like AI.

Plan for a data-driven future.

To foster a data-driven future, organizations should consider the following steps:

• Align with business objectives. Ensure that data initiatives support the broader goals of the organization, whether that's improving customer experience, streamlining operations or fostering innovation.

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• Evaluate current infrastructure. Assess the status quo to identify data sources, use cases, gaps, redundancies and opportunities for integration and consolidation.

• Explore various solutions. Understand the trade-offs between different data storage and management options, such as data warehouses, data lakes and data lakehouses. When doing so, consider factors like scalability, cost and complexity.

Ultimately, a sound data strategy uses the right technical infrastructure to maximize productivity, deliver better customer experiences and position businesses to succeed. It also unlocks the ability to execute transformative business strategies, future-proof organizations and keep up with customer expectations.

Supercharge productivity and reduce workforce friction.

Lost productivity costs employers an estimated $1.8 trillion each year . Poor quality data is one of the leading causes of reduced operational efficiency and productivity . Organizations that democratize access to information and enable users to engage with high-quality data in a format that matches their expertise are best positioned to prosper.

Two years ago, most of us weren’t familiar with the term “generative AI.” Today, savvy leaders are establishing AI road maps to leverage value out of this transformative tool. A strategy that makes data highly accessible enables the adoption of generative AI.

Generative AI and other leaps in technology help employees across organizations unlock the potential of data to enable faster decision-making and improve productivity. Replacing time-consuming, manual processes enables the workforce to focus on more intricate, innovative and valuable work.

Lead with a customer-centric, information-first strategy.

In healthcare, One Medical has revolutionized the patient and provider experience with user-friendly tech and processes, putting the consumer at the center of care. One Medical used successful retail strategies to create a highly performant foundation that provides quick, reliable information. This helps business leaders make better decisions to enhance experiences for their employees and customers.

Across industries, the most powerful players are those who have invested in technology and embraced the latest, greatest capabilities. Think of market leaders like hedge fund Citadel or mega-retailer Amazon. No matter the vertical, the most successful organizations recognize technology as the foundation of their infrastructure to unlock agility and scale.

Uber is another example of a company that disrupted an entire industry , focusing on consumerism by leveraging data. The ride-hailing service differentiated its market position by using data to align driver supply with rider demand, displacing traditional taxi services with a much-improved customer experience.

Revolutionize business with strategic data architecture.

An advanced data architecture serves as the central nervous system of an organization and enables financial success by driving engagement, retention and attachment.

Netflix, for example, set out to reduce friction in how media consumers access content. This started by replacing the video rental store with a direct mail subscription service. But in the background, the transformation that Netflix pursued was much greater—developing the infrastructure and connectivity to consume, convert and stream media into hundreds of millions of living rooms around the world.

By further enhancing the experience with AI, Netflix was able to deliver content that consumers logged on to find and tailor suggestions based on their habits. This resulted in consumers spending less time “wandering the aisles” and more time consuming content they enjoyed.

Netflix invested in tech early, enabling them to deliver agility that provided optionality to push more and more products into consumer's hands, making them one of the most valuable companies of all time. This foresight positioned them to take advantage of the latest opportunities. Like Uber, Netflix placed the customer at the design of the product and data ecosystem.

Architect the future with a solid data strategy.

The key to achieving superior business results, including the benefits brought by cutting-edge tools like generative AI, lies in having a robust data strategy. The ability to leverage data to keep up with customer demands, adopt new tools to stay competitive and enable stakeholders across an organization is crucial for success.

To achieve this, businesses must take actionable steps toward a future-proof data strategy:

• Determine what questions they want to answer with their data.

• Conduct an audit to align current data sources and analytics capabilities.

• Prioritize data governance to ensure data quality, security and compliance.

The path to a data-driven future is complex and requires a multifaceted approach, but the rewards are substantial for those who navigate it. Organizations need to architect a data strategy that not only meets today's needs but also adapts to future demands. Readying your infrastructure to corner new markets and invest in new technology is crucial for success in today's competitive landscape.

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I Specialize in Exit Planning — You Need to Make These 5 Moves Before Selling Your Business Selling a business in today's competitive market requires strategic foresight and proactive measures. Here are the most important steps to follow.

By Mark Kravietz • Apr 1, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Embrace technology and digital transformation.
  • Strengthen your company's financial performance.
  • Build a strong and adaptable team.
  • Enhance customer relationships and brand equity.
  • Engage professional advisors early.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's never too early to prepare your company for a sale. The business landscape is evolving rapidly, and entrepreneurs considering selling their businesses must adapt to the changing market dynamics. Strategic planning and timely decision-making can significantly impact the success of selling a business . In this article, we will explore five crucial moves business owners should make in preparation for selling their business in 2025.

1. Embrace technology and digital transformation

In the digital age, technology plays a pivotal role in business operations and value proposition. As of 2022, businesses that fully embrace digital transformation are more likely to attract higher valuations when it comes time to sell. According to a study by McKinsey , companies that invest in digital capabilities experience revenue growth rates 2.5 times higher than their counterparts.

To position your business for a successful sale in 2025, focus on enhancing your digital infrastructure, adopting advanced technologies and staying ahead of industry trends. Leverage data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to streamline processes, improve efficiency and demonstrate the scalability of your business to potential buyers. Most importantly, help ensure your employees are using this technology responsibly; implement an AI policy to protect your customers and employees.

Related: How Much Time Do I Need to Sell My Business? First, Consider These 7 Factors.

2. Strengthen financial performance

A robust financial performance is a key driver in determining the value of a business. Prospective buyers closely scrutinize financial statements, profitability, and cash flow before making acquisition decisions. They also look for growth of earnings. I'm working with a client whose business was off significantly in 2020 and 2021 and just started to come back in 2022. There will be excellent growth from '23 to '25 and he is looking to sell by the end of '25. It was his patience, cost-cutting and streamlining of his products that turned things around. I believe he will have a successful exit.

To help maximize the value of your business, focus on improving profitability, minimizing debt and maintaining a healthy cash flow. Implement cost-cutting measures, optimize operational efficiency and diversify revenue streams. By presenting a solid financial foundation, you will increase the attractiveness of your business to potential acquirers.

3. Build a strong and adaptable team

Buyers are not just acquiring a business; they are inheriting a team. Having a skilled and adaptable workforce is crucial for the long-term success of any business. According to Deloitte , organizations with strong leaders are 2.3 times more likely to financially outperform their peers.

Invest in training and development programs to upskill your employees and help ensure they are equipped to navigate the evolving business landscape. Provide each employee with an annual budget for continuing education and make sure they use it! Every employee that attends a conference should present their key learnings to the company so everyone can benefit.

A skilled and adaptable team adds significant value to your business, making it more appealing to potential buyers who are looking for a seamless transition.

4. Enhance customer relationships and brand equity

Customer relationships and brand equity are intangible assets that greatly influence the perceived value of a business. Additionally, a strong brand can command premium prices and create a competitive advantage.

Invest in customer satisfaction initiatives , gather feedback and address any issues promptly. This is not a one-time thing, but something that must be done on a regular basis. Cultivate a positive brand image through effective marketing and public relations strategies. These initiatives take time and funds to implement, so start early and make sure to budget accordingly to keep the momentum going. By enhancing customer relationships and brand equity, you not only improve your business's market position but also make it more attractive to potential buyers who seek a reputable and customer-centric acquisition.

Related: You Sold Your Business. Now What? Embracing a New Chapter with Care and Purpose

5. Engage professional advisors early

Navigating the complex process of selling a business requires knowledge and experience. Engaging professional advisors early in the process can significantly impact the outcome of the sale. In an Exit Planning Institute NY Chapter's State of Owner Readiness Survey, 78% of business owners indicated that they had a formal transition team . This shows the importance of creating a team of professionals.

Seek the assistance of financial advisors , legal professionals, merger and acquisition specialists and investment bankers. Make sure your financial advisor has experience with exit planning; the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®) has proficiency in helping business owners sell their businesses. Their insights, negotiation skills, and market knowledge can be invaluable in maximizing the value of your business and ensuring a smooth transaction.

Selling a business in 2025 requires strategic foresight and proactive measures. By embracing technology, strengthening financial performance, building a strong team, enhancing customer relationships and engaging professional advisors early, business owners can position themselves for a successful and lucrative sale. The statistics and industry insights mentioned in this article underscore the importance of these moves in the context of the evolving business landscape. As you prepare to sell your business, remember that early preparation and strategic decision-making can make all the difference in achieving a favorable outcome in the competitive market of 2025.

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CIMA®, CFP®, CEPA®

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Inside Business | Hampton Roads-based Kaufman & Canoles names…

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Inside business | hampton roads-based kaufman & canoles names new president and ceo.

Jason R. Davis became president and chief executive officer at Kaufman & Canoles on April 1. (Courtesy photo)

Kaufman & Canoles, a Hampton Roads-based business law firm dating back to 1919, has a new leader.

Jason R. Davis took over as president and chief executive officer on Monday, the firm announced. The transition occurred after an 18-month strategic planning process to replace William R. Van Buren III, who served as president and chairman for the past 16 years. Van Buren will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

“Under Bill Van Buren’s leadership, our firm has become a leader in the legal industry, and I expect our growth only to accelerate in the coming years,” Davis said.

A graduate of the University of Virginia and William & Mary Law School, Davis has worked extensively with the firm for the past 27 years in health care litigation, including representing and advising hospitals, physicians, long-term care facilities and other health care providers.

William R. Van Buren III served as president and chairman for Kaufman & Canoles for the past 16 years. Jason R. Davis stepped into the role of president and chief executive officer on April 1. (Courtesy)

During Van Buren’s tenure, the firm expanded to the Raleigh, North Carolina market and became the Virginia member of TerraLex, a leading international network of business law firms. The firm also received accolades like Civic Leadership Institute’s 2019 corporate Darden Award for regional leadership.

“We plan to continue that strategy — furthering our tradition of excellent client service and community involvement, maintaining our position in the Hampton Roads market, strategically expanding in other markets, and continuing to build a diverse and talented next generation of the firm and its practice groups,” Davis said.

Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]

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