Archives: Farming and Food Production
How much revenue do you want to earn in the coming year? $150,000? $300,000?
If you’ve read books like The Secret you know that you need to put out into the universe what you want. But putting down on paper or into the universe what you want isn’t a guarantee of achieving your goals. You need an action plan to get there.
The action plan may be a marketing plan (how to get the customers in your door, buying your products) or an operating plan (how will you produce your goods and services). And in order to define how many customers you need, and how you will service them, you need a deep understanding of your sales goals.
In this article, I’m going to address how to break down your revenue goals such that you can create the action plan. To understand your revenue goal, translate it into number of customers and average sales.
This article is a guest post by Laura Meister of Farm Girl Farm in Sheffield, MA.
When I started growing vegetables ten years ago, it was all I could do to keep up with the start-up math: how many square feet in an acre again? How many CSA members do we think we can sign up in our first season? How much food do they expect in a box? How many weeks are we serving them? So, then, how much do we grow? How much can we grow? And how many seeds does that mean? And when I finally had all those numbers banged out, I was nearly done in by the Fedco catalog—now I’ve got to convert ounces to grams? Are you kidding me?
Once all that was more or less behind me and the arrival of spring forced my attention to the real playing field—the actual field, I abandoned my desk entirely. I thought I’d made my plans well enough and if I now rode the rollercoaster with my white knuckles gripping the bar until Thanksgiving, I’d surely have some money in my pocket to show for all this sweat.
I worked hard. Really hard. Really goddamned hard. You know how hard I worked because you work that way too. I barely slept. I lost my business partner because it turned out this kind of hard work was not what she’d had in mind. Although I made every rookie mistake in the book, I managed to wrestle some produce from the ground and feed my 40 CSA members. I even had some surplus so I started calling scary chefs who turned out to be less scary than I thought and wanted to buy what I was selling. So when the snow finally flew that fall, I thought I’d had a pretty successful season.
The barriers to entry for food manufacturers make entrepreneurship difficult. Many of us have the perfect idea for a rich chocolate sauce, frozen food line or catering business. Getting your product to market is lined with pitfalls. The first on the list: finding a commercial kitchen to produce your products that complies with state and federal regulations, as most prevent entrepreneurs from producing most food products in residential kitchens. Funding a commercial kitchen for a start-up is neither financially feasible nor prudent.