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What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that helps you to organize and succinctly summarize the vision you have for your business.   The plan contains the operational and financial objectives of a business, the detailed plans and budgets showing how the objectives are to be realized.
A good business plan will contain the following:

  • Your business vision, mission statement, key values, and goals
  • Description of the product(s) you intend to produce
  • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats the business may experience are described
  • Production plans
  • Marketing plans
  • Estimated start-up costs
  • Information on your legal structure and management team
  • Current financial statements or projected financial statements.
  • Resume or brief explanation of your background and relevant experience
  • Less than 10 total pages so that people actually read it

Helpful Publications for Writing a Business Plan

General Business Resource Publications
Type of Lease Download Online
Starting an Ag-Business? A Pre-Planning Guide
Business Transfer Guide: Junior Generation
Producing a Business Plan for Value-Added Agriculture
Business Planning for the Agriculture Sector: A Guide to Business Plan Development for Start-up to Mid-size Operations


Cornell Cooperative Extension Publications for Specific Commodities
Landscape Business Planning Guide
Writing a Business Plan: A Guide for Small Premium Wineries
Writing a Business Plan: An Example for a Small Premium Winery


Getting Help Writing a Business Plan
Organization Description Contact
Cornell Cooperative Extension The type of programming offered in each county is unique so contact your county extension office to see if they have a farm management or small business development educator. Often these educators offer business plan workshops and are willing to advise, review, or assist in writing your plan.
Additional economic data and marketing tools can be found at the following website:
NY FarmNet New York FarmNet has business plan writing publications in addition to several farm counselors throughout the state who offer free and confidential help on any topic of concern, including: finances, farm changes, farm transfer, natural disaster, personal stress, family communication, and marital conflict.
New York State Small Business Development Center A network of 23 regional centers delivering business counseling and training free of charge to New Yorkers who want to start a business or improve the performance of an existing business.
New York State Online Permit Assistance This site will help you find the New York State business permits you may need.
Empire State Development’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program Part of New York State’s economic development agency, they have 9 centers across the state to provide specialized help to women, minority group members and persons with disabilities who are starting or operating an early stage businesses.
or 1-800-STATE NY
Federal Small Business Administration Federal agency with offices throughout the state providing counseling services and loan guarantees. They have a special emphasis area to work with women, minorities, veterans, and businesses involved in international trade.
SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” SCORE is a nonprofit organization offering free advice and training using experienced volunteers. Check the website for chapters in your area.
Sustainable Agricultural Research Education (SARE)Publications
Building a Sustainable Business
Great resource for a beginning farmer interested in alternative, sustainable, and/or general agriculture. It is 280 pages of education and practical exercises to guide the beginning farmer through the financial, management, and interpersonal skills needed to start a successful farm business. Order hard copy for $17 or download PDF online for free.
AgPlan AgPlan is powerful website developed by the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota to help rural businesses develop a business plan.
USDA New Farmers Website USDA’s New Farmers Website provides a portal to various sites providing technical assistance for planning a business.

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