7 steps to innovate in your farm business
Updated: May 28, 2020
As business people we are all working to innovate in our market. We do the hard work day in and day out but often we can work smarter by innovating. We can do this by finding a niche in our market, serving our customers the best we can, and working smart, growing our business and feeling a sense of accomplishment from these tasks. We can all learn from each other as we go about these tasks. The business sector and the farming industry are not that different from each other. They both are usually pretty passionate about what they're doing, they both have a product to sell and they both have to be smart, innovate and work hard to succeed. The difference between the business sector and the farming sector is that one them works outside everyday. The tools might be different between these two occupations but bottom line application is the same - they are both businesses that are working to succeed. Being adaptable and innovating in your market is an important step in your business strategy. The market changes and we need to adapt with it. Perfect example, Avocados weren't a superfood 10 years ago. (We didn't even know what a superfood was 10 years ago.) Finding these new markets is the challenge to any business, we just happen to be talking specifically about farming. Here are seven ideas to help you innovate as a business in your market. 7 steps to innovate in your business: 1.) Find a need or market First you have to find a need. Use complaints or difficulties in the market to find this need. You might see this challenge first-hand, or maybe you have heard of a specific difficulty from someone else. Whatever problem you find, this is what you try to solve. (No fresh greens in the stores in this town, no local beef in this restaurant, etc.) 2.) Learn about the product Once you learn about a market then you can ask your customers more. Find out all your can about this product. Find out it's uses and ways to market it. Find out about the production of the product and the costs. What problems does it have? How can you solve them? This is where your brand identify comes from. Do your research, have fun, put your special spin on the product! 3.) Talk to other producers Go to the lead producers in this space and see what they are doing. Talk to them about the problems they face, the solutions they have found and the costs associated with this. You will get a very clear picture of what you need to do. You don't have to necessarily copy what they're doing but you can see what makes sense for your business and how you might do it differently or even better. 4.) Secure start-up capital if needed This one is tricky especially for small farms. So be cautious with this one. If the idea is to grow, sometimes you have to purchase items to make that growth. Don't be afraid of spending money to make money but be clear about the economics of the purchases. Keep track of your finances and expenses so you can see where your money is going. I can't stress this enough. It's why we started Farmbrite. We want you to succeed and grow in your farm business and knowing where your making money is key. 5.) Do the work I don't hear as much complaining about doing the work with farmers as with other types of start-ups. Doing the work is the fun part for farmers that's why they're doing it in the first place. The business side of things is the tedious part for farmers. (But that part is important too- so don't discount that just because it's uncomfortable.) Don't forget to do your work and then work on your business too. 6.) Be prepared for mistakes If you're not failing, your not growing. You're probably going to mess up and have some loss at some point. It means you're trying. The trick is, to see it and learn from those losses. Track your progress - good or bad - make changes and adapt. Another important part of this is explore new ways to grow every year. The market is constantly changing so each year you should be taking a look at how you can innovate and grow in a different way. How has the market changed? 7.) Be optimistic but realistic Making tough choices is part of being in business. If something isn't working it might be time to cut your losses and discontinue. One farmer I knew had a passion for wool and so they had sheep. They didn't have a large enough property for more than 20 sheep. Without finding more property they couldn't make a profit. They had to make a decision to either keep the sheep and get more land, or sell the sheep and find a different way to use the land they had. There's nothing wrong with making a different choice once you start. Sometimes to make these hard decisions you have to take the emotion out of the equation. Do a Pro's and Con's list and see where you end up. These don't have to be overnight decisions, but be realistic in your approach to your business. So there are seven ways to innovate and find a unique space to sell in your farm business. I hope this helps you find a smart way to sell in your market. Thanks for reading and happy farming!