by Brian McKay




For every business owner, the challenge of a new venture brings up various questions and the most prominent one is, do people really need this product? While marketing agencies aim to provide a fundamental need for a specific product, cramming this so-called “essential” item into an already bloated marketplace means that the item isn't particularly necessary. So, if you are looking for a new avenue to explore, one that is essential to today's marketplace, you are better off venturing into the farming and agricultural industries. These industries are one of the, if not the most important industry out there right now. You can't turn a corner without bumping into a farmers market or encountering someone that is demanding organic, free-range products. It's for these simple reasons alone that agriculture is such a booming industry. But with some practices of farming sticking rigidly to the old-fashioned methods of yesteryear, can you, as an entrepreneur, bring a new angle to the farming industry?

Acquiring Funding

Let's start with this. Because the farming industry requires a solid financial base, there are avenues for you to explore. There are organizations like the Land Bank, and they support farmers to become more active in commercial agriculture via entrepreneurship schemes. So, naturally, there is an attempt now to lean towards developing farmers into entrepreneurs. This hasn’t always been the case, and you may encounter some farmers that are particularly reticent to head in this direction. But this is fair enough. For yourself, acquiring funding is a necessary process, but if you are looking at a new angle, as opposed to the standard bank loan route, you may want to think about methods like crowdfunding. Or you may want to appeal to the wealthy donors directly by writing a funding proposal; contains some essential information on drafting one of these. Because the area in which you plan on farming is vital to the success of your farming venture, due to the fact that your products will benefit more people in the local area, to begin with, you should think about this first.

Location Scouting

It's a catch-22; depending on the location that you choose it will have a bearing on the type of farming you will undertake. There are varying factors, such as the limitations of space, so if you wanted to sell free-range poultry, you would need the space for the chickens to roam around. Location scouting in terms of modern approaches can be a difficult undertaking, but it's advisable to go down the local route first. Lots of people find that they become farmers by inheriting land so this can be a barrier. But if you have the funds to purchase land, then all you need to do is scout a location on Google Maps and see if the area is suitable for farming practices! You do this by testing the soil, and undertaking a few other processes, not least to find out if the area is livable.

Equipment Sourcing & Livestock

If you have found a suitable location, the next logical step is to source the equipment and the livestock. The building of the location itself you can be a long process. It's important to get all of the resources lined up as soon as possible so you can have a very smooth transition in building up your business. In building these constructs needed to house your livestock and your equipment, there are various commercial construction firms out there. And the one advantage you have as an entrepreneur in this is that you are able to develop burgeoning relationships and are able to navigate your way through difficult building processes. For example, if the builders are taking too long, it's vital to begin the process of micromanaging them. Or if you have preferred suppliers in the first place, you've already got an established relationship. The other aspect to consider is the environmental impact. The very nature of agricultural work has caused a lot of concern relating to the total increase of the carbon footprint of this planet. So, if you can begin to source your materials from reputable sources, or begin to operate more mindfully about every aspect of your equipment used, this will benefit the planet, but it will also reduce your overheads. The physical ransportation of the equipment is another thing to consider, so if you can reduce the amount of raw materials being transported, you will make yourself a saving. There are large transports that can help, is one of those dump trailers that is suitable for the harshest materials, such as scrap metal. So you will be able to transport a high amount of raw materials in one go. When it comes to livestock, the key is to start small. But there are online firms that can help you in purchasing livestock, and an online marketplace certainly makes the process far easier. It used to be that you would have to source a reputable supplier and go to them. Now, thanks to the internet, it's very simple.

Utilizing Tech

Technology has made an impact on how we do everything in business now. And even though the old farming practices are still very much alive and kicking, you can implement processes you've learnt in other businesses to apply to this way of working. Of course, you can use computer software to simplify every procedure, from your accounts, all the way through to hiring additional help through online agencies. But, you could take the automation approach in some aspects. While farming is a very physical business, are there things that can be automated to make the whole process easier, such as timers and reminders to keep the farmers working productively? In addition to this, could you make the most of certain back-office functions that are used in many businesses now to keep in contact with the customers? You could use this approach, such as automated emails, to get in contact with new customers willing to supply your product, whether it is meat, milk or maize. Another thing to bear in mind - lots of farms now double up as an experience, where people take partially guided tours so you can provide a package for families to come see how everything is done. This can be promoted via internet marketing methods, or even dynamic YouTube videos. Even stocktaking, such as counting eggs, could be improved with the development of an app, to help speed up the process. It's a fantastic idea to implement automation in as many ways as possible. Although the very nature farming is a physical practice, if you can start to create certain processes to make the overall experience and easier one for the farmers, it's going to translate into more productivity and more profit.

Building The Entrepreneurial Links

Marketing and developing your network is something to be taken advantage of in the agricultural industry. While you may consider the agricultural industry to be overcrowded, it's nowhere near as overcrowded as other industries, such as retail. Utilizing your entrepreneurial skills can help you, not to crush the competition, but build better entrepreneurial links with other farmers. Creating demand for your product, especially when there are customers who buy their product from a preferred supplier, does mean that it's quite a difficult market to break into. But in building links and networks within the farming community, you can aim towards a fruitful relationship that could develop into a uniting of specific companies to make one almighty supplier. It seems that by way of constant competition and defending their small farms, small suppliers are fighting to keep their farming business going, and so, instead of offering to buy them out, it would be a preferable option for everyone to combine their powers. This can only work if the logistics of feasible, but the communication is constant. And this is where you, as a modern entrepreneur can benefit. In utilizing remote working capabilities, and making the most of programs like Skype, you can aim to build a comprehensive network of farmers with their own specific links to their own local dealers, so that you can cover a wider market. This doesn't happen overnight, of course, but it's an option for many desperate farmers now, to get into bed with another, larger company. And you would have the advantage over a larger company because you are starting out small, meaning that your journey is the same as the other farmers. People are wary of big companies, especially when the term “buying out” crops up, but this could be a very lucrative angle.

It's a very difficult one, as modern farming processes, for the most part of the same as they were 100 years ago. The technology has changed slightly, but the practices are still the same. This means that you need to harness your entrepreneurial skills to talk the farmers round to this new way of thinking. But if you start by building up a small and organic business, this is going to help overall. A modern farming business can reap the benefits, especially if you combine technology at the right parts.