If you’ve ever thought about growing your own food but don’t have the means to buy a large piece of land, fear not. You can still become a farmer through your own grit and effort. What’s more, you can also make a great living off of it as well, if you decide to.
This could start off as merely a way for you to supplement your income through agriculture. However, if you really want to see long-term prospects from your farm, recognize it as a new business opportunity.
New farmers need to start slow; perhaps with one type of plant or animal they’re raising. They can become so adept at it that they suddenly have to deal with a very first-world problem: a surplus. Then, they can market their goods and make money. Pretty soon, growing demand for their business has occurred, and they’re established farmers.
However, you need to think a few steps ahead if you want your farm to be sustainable. Like all businesses, it needs proper financial handling and a strong marketing strategy. That’s what separates the great farms from both the good and poor ones.
- Identifying Assets You Have
- Identifying Obstacles in Your Way
- Create a Plan
- Identify Your Target Market
- Develop Your Skills
- Pay Yourself
- Due Diligence With Partners
- Stress Management
- Starting Small Scale (For Personal or Family Sustainability)
- Final Thoughts
Identifying Assets You Have
When you’re just starting as a farmer, it can seem like you’re literally starting with nothing.
Perhaps you don’t have very much, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing. You can get a farm business off the ground just by focusing on one part of it, such as growing a single plant. Put aside part of your paycheck for farming, and gradually introduce new methods as your success grows.
If you need help raising money, reach out to others. Explain your plan and encourage them to help you raise money and/or lend equipment and their own skills.
Contact people in your family and friend groups. They may be surprised by your farming ambitions, but that doesn’t mean they won’t support you. You shouldn’t solely rely on them for help, and certainly not when your business is starting to take off. However, they can definitely be fantastic help when you’re launching your business.
Identifying Obstacles in Your Way
Your farm first needs a plan, especially for the land you’re using. Whether you’re using your backyard or have purchased a vacant plot somewhere, the land needs to be conducive to farm success.
You may have land that’s in some rough condition. That can be okay to use, but you need to know what you can do to bring it back up to code.
Don’t think that you have to overhaul the land you’re using completely. Some creatures do great in areas that might not seem ideal. A good example is how goats and pigs thrive in wooded environments. However, cattle and chicken are better in a pasture.
All livestock needs to be in the right place for its type, and the land should be surveyed for its different uses. If you’re raising animals in a wooded environment, get firewood from the cleared-out area.
You should also have a strong idea of what to plant. Pay attention to the soil and find out what was grown there previously, if anything. Your soil can determine whether your farm will be a marvel or a miss.
At first glance, soil can all look the same. However, it has a lot more nuanced than you might be giving it credit for. You also need to make sure you’re properly treating your soil by using the right fertilizer and mulch.
Don’t know squat about soil? Get in touch with your county’s agricultural extension services, and see their rate for soil testing. There’s an excellent chance they’ll do it for free.
They can also give you excellent guidance on helping your soil and your farm to succeed. You may find out that the soil you were planning to use just isn’t going to work out for you or your farm. It’s always better to find this out early than after you’ve first planted your seeds.
Identify Your Competitive Edge
You’re not the only farmer on this planet, nor are you likely the only one in your town. You need to know what your competitive edge is, if any. How can you stand out from the other farmers without hurting your bottom line?
It can be tempting to begin with something familiar and affordable. However, the standard can be a liability. If you’re offering something that your customers can get from other farmers or most grocery stores, how are you going to draw them in?
You can still make money off of more common items. You’ll just need to give your marketing game a real kick in the pants. People should start to associate your name with whatever you’re selling, and you should make them happy to buy from you.
Any customer who isn’t yet buying from you is someone you need to try to reach. Your farm can’t afford to just fall through the cracks, so you need to do all you can to spread the word
Create a Plan
You cannot be fully committed to your farm until you’ve made a business plan.
It can be a little dry to do this, but it’s essential for separating a hobby from a business. Your final plan might differ significantly from your initial plan.
However, it’s your initial plan that can set the framework. Novelists don’t have their rough drafts published, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t crucial for getting their stories finished.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
A business plan should be ambitious. Consider what your goals for up to a decade will be. How will you reach these milestones? If you want to earn $1 million from your farm, you should first focus on how you can make $1,000.
You should look at your progress at least every year and revamp your plan accordingly after you’ve determined what isn’t working. There’s no need to stick with something that isn’t working, but you also don’t have to get rid of it entirely.
It can take about three years to really find your groove with your business plan. If other people are involved with your farm, make sure they get a say in the plan. Their experience and expertise can help steer you away from some wrongheaded moves.
Becoming a farmer is a pretty daring venture. You have to be willing to accept instability in many areas, from item costs to climate to laws, which can vary in the blink of an eye. Look at what the prognosis for these categories and others is, and center your budget around that. If you have to alter it in the future, it should be no sweat.
The only thing you’ll honestly know as a farmer is that you never truly know anything. That’s why you need to be prepared for whatever life throws at you. Yes, starting a farm for profit is a bit of a gamble, but it’s far less of a risk if you have things to fall back on if your first plan doesn’t work out so well. You should also keep your budget in check. It wouldn’t look good if you were hemorrhaging money heavily during your first few years.
At the same time, don’t be afraid of debt. If you’ve determined that you could profit from a particular crop or livestock but have to borrow some money to afford it, go for it. Only do so if you’re confident in your chances of success. Also, don’t borrow more money than you know you can payback.
There are ways to borrow money aside from using a credit card. Ask friends or family for help or look for programs geared towards helping farmers raise money.
If your farm is three years old or older and you still need to borrow money, you’ll really need to evaluate your spending habits and profitability. There’s going to be at least something amiss, and it won’t fix itself on its own.
Identify Your Target Market
Can you think of a successful brand that is targeted towards everyone? We mean everyone literally, from preschoolers to young professionals to retirees.
No, you can’t, because companies need to target their marketing. Otherwise, they’ll look like they don’t know what they’re doing because they likely don’t.
While farmers have a pretty wide-open market in terms of who they can sell their products to, you still need to be precise with who you reach out to.
These are some of the places you should market to:
- Farmers markets
- Farm stands
- Farm sales
- Retail businesses
- Home delivery companies
- Wholesale businesses
- Community Supported Agriculture
You don’t need to work in all of these areas. You may find that only one of these could be your primary business source. However, it’s still good to have others in your network, just in case one area suffers a downturn in business.
It’s also worth knowing that these outlets are fairly connected. Someone who buys your products from a farmers market might ask if they can purchase them for their wholesale business.
When you show that you’re in demand, you’ll have more justification to increase your prices and also to expand your operation.
Don’t save your marketing for the last second. Work on your marketing even when your farm is in its infancy. Talk to other farmers on the internet, and learn about their tips and tricks. The best way to feel like a part of a community is to immerse yourself in it.
Your online presence can do a lot for you. Make your own site or a blog to talk about your love for farming. If other new farmers are reading it, they can feel comfortable, knowing that you started from the bottom, just like they did.
Develop Your Skills
Running a business successfully means learning some new concepts. These could seem reasonably intimidating if you didn’t study business in school. However, they’re not all that difficult to understand, especially not if you’re passionate about making your business work.
It’s not just dull number-crunching. You can have fun learning new skills like website creation, digital marketing, and copywriting.
If there’s something you need to be covered but aren’t entirely confident in your abilities, hire others to help. For instance, maybe you have a cousin who’s a great writer. Ask them to write stuff for your website.
Whoever you’re working with, you need to create an atmosphere of harmony. Please encourage them to do their best, and give them guidance, not scorn, when they’re having trouble. They might not be tilling the soil, but that doesn’t mean they’re not instrumental to the success of your farm.
You can learn these skills through online business classes, complete with certification. You can also learn about the personal side of management with things like conflict dispute classes.
Your farm might start generating a tidy sum, but it’s not all going to you. While it’s essential to make sure all the bills are paid, all supplies are purchased, and your employees are satisfied, you’ll also need to look after yourself.
Figuring this out requires a bit of math. If you don’t evaluate this carefully, you could be alarmingly bleeding money. These are things you need to consider when you’re deciding how much to pay yourself.
- Cost of making your product
- How much people will pay for it
- Your necessary profit margin
Setting your price high could set you up for backlash. However, if your product is worth the price and you know how to market, you can find an audience. Businesses that deliberately set their prices lower than their competition are signaling that they don’t think people would buy them otherwise. Be bold and set your prices at the appropriate rate.
Due Diligence With Partners
If you’re entering into a business agreement with anyone, you need to know exactly what you agree to. It can be pretty flattering to hear another, bigger company is interested in working with you. However, think before you reach for that pen.
For all you know, you could be about to sign a contract that leaves you annihilated while the other company prospers. What sounded good on paper can turn out to be pretty awful in reality.
The same thing goes for insurance policies. You’ll need to get insurance on many things, from the farming equipment to your livestock. Check to make sure your insurance agreements are fair before you even thinking about signing them.
Technical jargon runs rampant on contracts like these. To keep yourself from passing out from boredom and/or confusion, hire a lawyer to read these for you. Have them outline the terms and offer their thoughts about if it’d be a good decision to sign.
You also need to have a strong liability policy. There’s no telling what could happen, from someone getting sick from your food to someone getting hurt on your farm. Hopefully, nothing will happen, but it’s so much better to be prepared, just in case of a disaster.
How are you supposed to balance running a farm with your 9-5 job? Well, we’d hope that once your farm has proven prosperous, you’ll put in your two weeks notice.
It can be a relief to say goodbye to the daily grind, but running a farm is a responsibility, not a vacation. You need to focus on making it a success, but that doesn’t mean you have to stress yourself out.
Make your farm what you what it to be, not what everyone else may think it should be. If you don’t want to look after chickens or don’t want to deal with the irrigation required for raising celery, simply don’t.
You can also prevent stress by thinking ahead. Think about how your choices now will affect you tomorrow or even further in the future. You shouldn’t throw caution to the wind when you’re running a farm.
There’s no magic solution for guaranteeing your farm will be a success, and you may suffer some setbacks along your way. However, if you care enough about your farm business and are willing to devote all the necessary time and energy to it, there’s no telling how successful you could be.
Starting Small Scale (For Personal or Family Sustainability)
Learning how to start a small farm for profit can be really exciting. However, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and strategy to make it succeed and reach it's full potential.
For many people, they don't want to build a large scale farm or a giant business, and instead want to build something small scale to sell to their neighbors, family, small community, or just to support their own family.
DIY is excellent if you are creative and crafty with building contraptions and systems, but it isn't for everyone.
If this sounds like you, you might be wondering, "Well, am I just out of luck then?"
Actually you can buy pre-made systems where you just plug-in, follow a few simple instructions all from the comfort of your home.
Companies like, Click and Grow, have fully functional, pre-made, quality growing systems that enable you to get started right away, even if you aren't an expert gardener or have lots of experience.
These are 2 of their most popular products you can check out.
Click and Grow Smart Garden 27
Grow organic, fresh, and nutritious food 365 days of the year with this automatic smart garden.
This system does everything for you by providing the optimal amount of lighting, nutrients, and water to your garden.
You can think of this system as like a Keurig cup machine for coffee.
Except this machine is for plants and provides "pods for plants" that have the nutrients and seeds already inside!
Click and Grow Wall Farm
The Click and Grow Wall Farm is an indoor garden that produces fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, and greens 365 days per year.
This systems unique technology allows growth at home extremely simple and reliable.
With three full shelves equipped with light and watering systems, you don't have to worry about being creative or crafty to do it yourself.
Simply setup, plugin, follow instructions, and watch your produce come to life right in front of your eyes!
The way to begin in any endeavor is the take the first step. Not everything will go exactly as planned, but you can always adapt and evolve to the conditions that present themselves and solve the problems to move forward.
Starting a farm can be great, and many more people in today's age are actually doing it, from beginners to more advanced farmers, gardeners, or growers.
We hope you found this article helpful. Leave a comment below and let us know what we missed.