So you're looking into starting a farm. Awesome!
You must have heard about the Upstart Farmer movement... This is going to be HUGE.
But, let's talk logistics for a second.
- How long will it take for you to build a farm?
- At what point will your investment pay off?
These are some of the questions that are probably running through your head, which is good. You're already ahead of most just by spending some time and brain power thinking these things through.
This is the first post in a series that will help you determine the answers and ultimately help you launch your farm.
Welcome to the first of our finance farm planning posts!
[Dig Deeper: Sign up for the free Upstart University Orientation mini course]
Let's talk timelines.
Chances are that you're anxious to get moving on the farm; you want to get up and running tomorrow, right? (Or at least within the next few months?) That's wonderful, but we need to think strategically about making this happen.
Don't think for a second that this will be a walk in the park. There's a lot that goes into getting an operation up and running successfully, and we want you to be realistic with your timeline. Once you begin moving forward with your build out, you'll be glad you did.
We're going to help you save time, avoid trouble, and ultimately build a highly successful farm.
Depending on your situation, you're looking at a 4 month to 2 year process.
How to determine a realistic timeline for building your farm
You can estimate a timeline range by assessing three main factors.
The following factors will determine a realistic timeline for you, as well as give you an idea of what you need to do to move forward.
Variable #1: Property
If you have a location and a building secured this drastically reduces the amount of time it will take you to get your system up and running.
Finding a location that is appropriate for your business can be very frustrating and tedious, and may take a long time!
Whether you are growing indoors or outdoors, if you can't find a structure that is ready to go (and within your budget) you may have to build something from the ground up.
Building a greenhouse or warehouse isn't an easy process, but being deliberate about the research and planning process can help you avoid costly mistakes down the road.
If you're lucky, you either own some property, or you can find something to rent quickly. If this is the case you can get your system up and running much faster.
Variable #2: Funding
Will you need to secure a loan or crowdfund, or do you have cash on hand? Your financial situation has a huge influence on how quickly you can get started.
If you need to secure a loan, remember this will take time. There is a lot of paperwork and planning that goes into this process. You will need a solid business plan, financials, and anything else specific to the loan you are applying for. You will need this before you can make any purchases.
Crowdfunding is a good option for raising money. If it's done right, you will have customers lined up and you'll have a head start on your marketing.
However, DO NOT underestimate the amount of time and work that a crowdfunding campaign takes.
You will need to spend a lot of time planning, organizing, and forming relationships before your campaign even starts. Once it's started, you will need to devote a significant amount of your time and energy to being active across social networks and calling on those relationships you've developed far before you started your campaign.
Remember this is NOT free money. Don't think for a second you can click "Launch Campaign" on Kickstarter and people will start throwing cash at you.
Having cash on hand is optimal, so if you've been saving up for a long time or can pawn off a few items at the local shop, that's awesome!
You can really accelerate your timeline and get up and running quickly.
Variable #3: Education
How much do you need to learn about your local markets and the operations of your own farm/business?
Have you been growing with hydroponics or aquaponics for a while?
If so, you're ahead of the curve. Nice work!
If not, allocate as much time as you can each day to researching and making notes. Not only will you need to know how to operate the system, you need to know everything you can about your market.
What kind of demand is there in your area and can you meet that demand? Can you be profitable while doing this? You HAVE to think about these things if you want to hit the ground running.
You need to be well versed in the growing side of operations as well as the business side if you want to be successful.
When in doubt... Test it out
One way to solidify your education is to run a test system as you learn.
Many Upstart Farmers start with a few towers in a small system.
They use this test system to become familiar with the way the towers work and the management of the system, from nutrient additions to plant health to plumbing set up.
Time to assess where you're at.
Do you have a greenhouse, cash, and 5 years of experience and research under your belt? If so, you can be up and running in a few months!
If this is not the case, it may take longer... but don't lose hope just yet.
Even though you're excited to get up and running, it will pay off if you do your research and take your time planning.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, taking classes on agriculture and business planning are a less stressful place to start. You can do this cheaply on platforms like Upstart University.
Check out your education options today. It will save you time and stress, ultimately resulting in a better, brighter and more productive farm.
Think you've got what it takes to join this community of commercial farming innovators?