Running and maintaining a farm is both exciting and challenging.
You get up even before the sun has risen. You put on your clothes and rain boots and set your foot into the field, dig your hands into the soil, feed the cattle, chickens and other livestock. Your day has barely started and you already have a slew of tasks in your head for the day – fix the fence, call the accountant to know your monthly business expenses, research agriculture market online to get insights into latest methods and technology trends, check in with the neighbours about using that extra piece of land at the border of your property, order some new farm equipment, talk to the farmer in the neighbourhood about how they are using their hilly, forested land to plan for a future logging operation, connect with an agriculture service provider to discuss about building Australian farm software for better land and operational management.
Handling all these tasks can be exhausting, but the farming lifestyle is exciting. Like with any business, you are your own boss and you set your own work hours and day-to-day tasks. And what’s even more interesting is while managing all those chores you will get endless opportunities for growth and make good profits. However, the journey from a small farm to a successful agriculture business is long and daunting. In this blog, we will walk you through some useful tips that will help you successfully set up your small farm and avoid mistakes that can obstruct your growth and profit.
Define Your Goals
What inspires you to start a farm? Is it the farming lifestyle or you are looking for an alternative stream of income? What do you want to achieve from farming? Are there other ways you can achieve your goals with less effort, risk or investment?
If you like the rural lifestyle and the idea of growing your own food, you would better approach farming as hobby. If you aspire to work outdoors in the soil and trees, plants, animals and machinery, you can consider finding a job with an existing agriculture business. Before you get into farming, determine your goals and visions – what you want to achieve out of farming. Reflecting on your goals and competencies will allow you pave the way for the right approach and strategy for setting up and running a farm.
Get in Touch with As Many Farmers as Possible
The best way you can learn about the ins and outs of farming apart from your own experience and research is talking one-on-one with neighbourhood farmers and getting to know about their personal experiences including operations, strategies, struggles and achievements. It’s not common for most farmer to receive that type of request and, so they are more than happy to share their story and help beginners navigate the start-up stage with less risks and surprises.
Define Your Form of Farming
Agriculture is vast and there are many different types of farming to know and implement on the field. You don’t want to be in a rut and blow out your funds before you even start. Get to know about different forms of farming – such as dairy farming, cattle farming, poultry farming, organic farming and more to determine what type best suits your land and available start-up capital. Knowing what type of farming goes well with your land and available finances will help you minimise risk down the road and make the most out of your investment.
Determine Risks and Plan for Failure
No farmer would want to imagine their business as a failure, but the truth is no business can also go without risks. As exciting and profitable as it is, farming is also an incredibly risky venture that involves a significant amount of time and money to be invested to get started. A great piece of advice for new farmers is to consider doing an off-farm job for years until your farm is large and stable enough to support you. Moreover, you can minimise financial risk to a great extent by funding your farm operations from your business earning and savings rather than debt.
Unless you have a decent amount of capital to invest in a new farm and to keep your business running for years, consider renting a land for farming. This is almost always cheaper and less risky than buying a new land. In addition, it is inevitable to build an exit plan – what happens if the market goes down, or if you decide to downgrade your business to a hobby? What if you have an unexpected medical emergency that restricts you from running your business? How much are your farm machinery and equipment worth? How quickly can you liquidate them? Having a plan for the worst situations will help you take some stress off when the unwanted happens and recover from losses faster.
Farming is a challenging yet exciting profession which takes a lot of research, patience, consideration and persistence to achieve success. The initial stages may be incredibly daunting but with the right counsel and resources, you can run and grow a profitable farming business. Do remember – as a new farmer you are prone to mistakes and may not find much luck with everything you do on field but it is important to learn from your mistakes and improvise to ensure fruitful outcome.