1. Mission, Goals, and Strategies
The framework of mission, goals, and strategies gives a farm a path from the broad impact down to particular activities of an enterprise. This is a great format to transition from envisioning the world the farm aims to create, to day-to-day operations that will meet those goals. Introducing a mission and goals into a farm can have dramatic results. Understanding the deeper reason why this work is being done while placing clear goals on the table can give motivation, clarity, and empowerment to the farmer and anyone else involved
in the farm.
Goals bring the mission into a yearly focus. Annual goals give the farm something to aim for and daily tasks to orient towards. The goals can be financial, personal, event, or production oriented. Strategies further focus what day-to-day operations look like; strategies are the “how”, the concrete work being done to achieve the goals and mission. During the development of goals and strategies, don’t be afraid to fully explore options and dreams. What would be the best imaginable way to fulfill the goals? Include these in possible strategies. Eventually, you will select two or three strategies for each goal, and now a mission driven business has been created!
Having a clear mission attracts customers and employees who share the values expressed in your mission. The mission also acts as a guidepost to refer to when making decisions on the farm. Whenever a choice point arises, this is the statement that is referred to, to clearly decide if the opportunity is in support of or contradiction to the mission. The mission acts as the compass to keep the business headed in the intended direction. Looking at the mission can be extremely helpful to have connection to why exactly someone started farming and what they were trying to achieve. The mission should be broad and succinct. Mission encapsulates the larger change a business is trying to create in the world.
For example, at Fungi Ally, the mission is to “Create a world of balance and connection while revealing the power of fungi.” Developing this mission has been a key part of the evolution of Fungi Ally over five years. After four years in commercial mushroom production, Fungi Ally shifted out of primarily producing fresh mushrooms for sale and more heavily into teaching, an efficient method for revealing the power of mushrooms. Providing fresh mushrooms is a good way to fulfill the mission but enabling other people to grow mushrooms and have a deeper relationship through cultivation is an awesome way to fulfill that mission.
To develop your own mission, try to come up with one or two values you would like to bring into the world. Next, add a very broad “how to” statement to bring your values into being. Common values are things like: community, fun, joy, health, equality, profitability, beauty, creative, and many many others. From this short list a mission could be:
The mission can feel lofty and ambiguous, so it’s hard to know if it is being achieved or not. This is where goals come in. Once a mission is developed, the next step is to lay out annual goals for your enterprise.
Goals help bring the mission out of a heady ambiguous realm to very measurable yardsticks, informed by the mission. It is like the process of log inoculation. You place mycelium into a log and hope something is happening for a year, but you don’t really know if it works until mushrooms pop out. The goals are like mushrooms, these tangible things that we can definitively say happened or didn’t happen. Typically, goals can include anything that is relevant to the mission and feed the business. These might include: profit, revenue, production, events, employees, or whatever feels relevant for that year. It is important for goals to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
Specific means the goal is clearly pointing to one thing in particular. If economic impact was part of the mission, then linking the goal to revenue or profitability is an important differentiation
Measurable means it can clearly be measured and by the end of the allotted time period it is clear whether or not it was achieved. For example, rather than a goal being “make money,” the goal would be to “make $20,000 in profit over the next year”.
Attainable refers to the goal being a realistic goal that can be reached based on where you are at now. Don’t make a goal that you know you will fail at; in fact it can be nice at the beginning to have some soft balls you know you will hit out of the park.
Relevant goals encourage you to be sure the goal is feeding your mission and is applicable to the business.
Timely refers to a clear delineation of when this goal is going to be achieved. This builds in a time to check in and discern if the goal was achieved, why it was or wasn’t, and set new goals. Creating two or three annual goals and following that up with monthly or even weekly goals is a great way to organize the year. If a goal is to produce
$20,000 in profit over the course of a year, monthly goals might be to create $1700 in profit, and weekly goals to generate $400 in profit. This allows an otherwise large goal to become a very measurable weekly check-in. The next step to create a mission-driven business is to develop strategies to help you achieve your goals.
Strategies are the methods used to achieve the goals. Strategies should be informed by the mission and a full width of possibilities should be explored. There are many different strategies to the goal of generating $20,000 of profit. It could be to sell mushroom products, fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms,
mushroom grow kits, or mushroom spawn. It could be to teach classes on foraging or workshops. Another strategy could be to do consulting or create mushroom extracts, or to secure research and education grants. This is a good time to go beyond any limiting beliefs. Truly explore from the heart what
strategies could fulfill the outlined mission and goals and also be exciting to you.
Having a brainstorming session with other trusted people can help when exploring different avenues. Even within the realm of fresh mushroom production there are many different factors to consider, including what markets to sell in, what price to sell for, and what kind of interaction there is with the customer. Mushrooms could be sold for $6/lb to one customer at 300 pounds per week or they could be sold for $12/lb to 150 customers at farmers markets.In both scenarios, the income would be the same but the strategy is extremely different. Just like goals that can be broken down from annual to weekly, strategies can funnel down from a broad annual focus to a narrow weekly focus.
If a $400 weekly profit is the goal and a $3 profit can be expected per pound of mushrooms sold at wholesale rates of $10/lb, you will need to sell around 134 pounds of mushrooms a week. This might mean
aiming to grow 150 pounds per week. This now becomes your first weekly strategy!
Now that you have a weekly goal and one strategy to achieve that goal, you will know what to spend time on. With the strategy of selling 134 pounds a week, you can now figure out how many customers you need to get, how many blocks you need to initiate each week; and many other little tasks that can be planned out in accordance with your strategy. If the weekly goal isn’t achieved, that is absolutely okay! This isn’t a tool designed to create shame or the feeling of being a failure. It is meant to help you explore how to get to where you want to be in your business in a way that feels good. Say you sold 95 pounds in a week. That’s a great start! Now look at how your strategy can be improved or changed to hit the goal. Or go back up to the goal and decide the new strategy is to sell 100 pounds of mushrooms at $3/lb profit and do one farm tour where you sell 20 grow kits, adding up to a total of $400 in profit per month. Know that you aren’t stuck with one strategy. Be flexible, explore what works for you and the community you live in, and you are bound to be successful.
Mission: Create a world of balance and connection while revealing the power of fungi.
Goal 1: Generate $60,000 of annual revenue through four different channels.
Strategy 1: Generate $25,000 in annual revenue through 2 different grants
Strategy 2: Generate $15,000 in annual revenue in online spawn sales
Strategy 3: Generate $5,000 in annual revenue through consulting
Strategy 4: Generate $15,000 in annual revenue through grow kit sales
Strategy 4a: Generate $1250 in monthly revenue through grow kit sales
Strategy 4b: Generate $291 in weekly revenue through grow kit sales
Strategy 4c: Sell 15 grow kits weekly at $20/kit
Goal 2: Teach 1,000 people about mushrooms each year
Strategy 1: Run 15 in-person workshops with 40 people each
Strategy 2: Run 10 online courses with 60 people each
EXAMPLE 2: Mission: Promote a healthy and sustainable community through mushrooms, while generating a steady income.
Goal 1: Generate $26,000 of annual profit.
Strategy 1: Create $13,000 in profit from mushroom cultivation and sales
Strategy 2: Generate $13,000 in profit from educational tours and walks
Goal 2: Increase base knowledge of mushrooms by attending classes, seminars and reading books.
Strategy 3: Attend 5 regional forays
Strategy 4: Join the Boston Mycological club and attend 10 walks.