12: Business Plans
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:
- 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 http://publications.dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extensionpdf/2010/Cornell_pdf
- Building a Sustainable Business (Sustainable Agricultural Research Education (SARE)Publications)
280 pages of education and practical exercises to guide you 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.
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
|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: https://dyson.cornell.edu/outreach/extension-bulletins
|Cornell Small Farms Program Online Course BF 202: Business Planning
|The Cornell Small Farms Program offers 20+ online courses every year on many topics related to the production and business sides of farming. Most are taught by Cornell Cooperative Extension educators. BF 202 is a 6-week course that will guide you through the process of writing your business plan, with weekly live webinars and feedback on your plan from an experienced farmer.
|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 FarmNet has business plan writing publications (listed earlier in this fact sheet) in addition to 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.
|Empire State Development’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program
|ProgramPart 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 business.
|SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business”
|SCORE is a nonprofit organization offering free business advice and training by experienced volunteers. Check the website for chapters in your area.
|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.
|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.