Thinking of starting an organic farm business?
The business of organic farming has exploded in recent years. The good news is, it’s not going away. In fact, with larger companies like General Mills investing heavily into organic farming, it validates the fact that you can run a successful organic farm or garden virtually anywhere in the world.
If you’re considering the idea of starting an organic farm, you’re going to need to understand how to market your farms products.
Many organic farmers start by running their business on the side in it’s early years. This is especially valuable as maintaining a side income during the formative years of your business can prevent cash flow failure.
A major benefit to starting an organic farm is the fact that you’ll be growing your own food! Not only is consuming food you’ve produced yourself rewarding, it’s healthy.
Should I start organic right away?
This is an important question to ask yourself. To be certified organic, it takes several years for your certification. It’s an important piece to consider when first starting your farm. We’ll dive into things like a business plan later on in this article, where we will cover how to get past this.
If you’re thinking of going organic, you’re first going to need to go natural. What does natural farming mean? Many farmers practice farming naturally, by using natural inputs such as fertilizer. By practicing farming naturally, you can establish a better market for your product right away.
Organic farmers refer to the process of becoming organically certified as “transitioning”. It’s acceptable to market your products as “natural” during this phase.
Starting A Successful Organic Farm Business in 2019
The difference between success and failure in organic farming is small. Go all in too soon, you could fail. Go all in too late, you could still fail.
One of the most important ways to ensure success in organic farming is growing with your customers. You can easily over produce product and end up with a large excess. On the same token, however, you can run into shortages and lost revenue if you aim low.
The key to a successful business, any business really, is how to position and market yourself to consumers.
Name three auto manufacturers. As you read that, you immediately had three auto manufacturers in mind. Now name three organic farm brands that you know. Did you think of Whole Foods? While not necessarily an organic farm brand, they do carry organic products.
These brands have separated themselves from any competition, essentially building a “moat” around their business through successful marketing campaigns. It’s why you choose Starbucks over certain coffee shops, or why you shop at Target. There is no reason you shouldn’t aim high when starting and branding your organic farm.
How to choose a niche for your organic farm
What do the brands we mentioned above have in common? They have defined niches. Ford recently announced they would stop making cars (minus the Mustang). Why? They’re “niching down”. Ford understands that they make the bulk of their money on their F-150 truck. In order to maximize profit and cut cost, they decided to move away from cars.
You can follow this same model to ensure you grow a successful organic farm. Do you have a lot of land? Consider growing organic beef, or raising organic livestock. Located inside city limits? It’s very possible to run an organic farm inside a city, with limited land.
Urban Farmer Curtis Stone has carved out a niche for himself inside the city, on 1/4 of an acre!
You do not need the most startup capital to successfully farm, wherever you are. What you do need is expertise in a niche. Figure out what you’re good at, products that your area needs more of, and raise those.
Your farm can be incredibly successful, if you service a niche to it’s full potential. Often times, your niche will be determined based on resources and space available.
Do you need a business plan to start an organic farm?
If you’re starting a large organic farm right from the start, you’ll need a solid business plan.
However, if you plan to start like most small farmers, grow what you can afford and spend the bulk of your time marketing these products. If you’re good, you’ll start to develop a customer base. Get creative with your pricing model and how to treat current customers and use this to grow your customer base and in turn the products you raise.
You do not need a business plan to start an organic farm. What you do need is the commitment to raise the best possible products you can, with the resources you have. Use the capital you earn to reinvest in your farm and grow at your own pace.
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