As we take forward our discussion on the above topic, it is important to note that all business forms have hiccups and would most probably fail and rise along the way.
Now, I know many people want to get into farming with little money saved but farming is a business like any other – and if you expect to be successful in any business, you have got to have operating capital and cash reserves.
If you do not have it, get it. It is better to get out and earn some and save it first. You are going to need it.
Another reason that small farms fail is lack of focus or trying to do too much. Believe me, this has been the downfall of many upcoming agribusinesses out there. With farming, it is not only easy to venture into countless enterprises. Chances are you would neglect one if you do.
But you can, however, diversify within the farming sector. You could start with livestock, add some chickens then rationalise adding pigs and even geese to the mix! Most importantly, start with the market in mind.
Another shortfall has been trying to emulate other farmers’ successes without understanding why they are successful and whether they can be replicated.
Always study the model well before committing. I have seen many farmers, starry-eyed, rushing back to their original farming mode.
So, if you are going to set out to replicate some of that success, understand you will need scale too – and that also means not being distracted by too many farming enterprises.
One other reason small farmers fail is that many make marketing an afterthought, and they make two big mistakes in this regard.
First, they simply do not prioritise marketing until they have a product to sell and they fail to understand how critical it is to build a strong brand for their farm
As I said in previous columns, the time to start marketing your farm is before you start farming.
The second mistake related to marketing is that when they do start marketing, their ideology gets in the way.
They get so caught up in all their personal beliefs and values that they let that drive their marketing. You know what I am talking about.
Imagine if the world’s great marketers, such as Apple did that. Instead of showing you all the amazing things they are products can do for you and that you can do with them – that they talked only about how you will have dropped calls with other solutions.
Otherwise, you will have to carry a separate camera – and that is a hassle, or that you will need a paper map instead of their GPS.
They do not hammer on that stuff. They show you the life you can have – the joy and convenience you can have if you buy their products. So, there is way too much negative language in the world of sustainable farming, but this creates an opportunity for you to be different. Instead of emphasising what is wrong with the world, focus on why you farm the way you do and the joy, health and connection your customers can realise if they support you.
Show them pictures; tell them with emotive, positive words because most farmers are not doing this.
So, the good news is that if you can market positively, with a vision for positive solutions and change, it will be music to people’s ears, and it will differentiate you as a farmer.