How to Start a Farm

Congratulations! Starting a farm can be a rewarding and profitable business venture. There’s a lot of work that goes into running a successful farming operation, and it requires keeping up to date with all state and federal regulations, as well as the guidelines set forth by the Department of Agriculture and the FDA.

I’m going to teach you all about how to start a farm using the lean startup process, which will save you a lot of time and money. The Lean Startup Method is a method for starting businesses that was created by Eric Reis, and in 2011 he went on to write a book and explain the method further in The Lean Startup Method.

Before I dive into teaching you how to start a farm using the Lean Startup Method, I’m going to tell you why the traditional startup method is ineffective. 

The traditional flawed business startup process

Most traditional business advice gives you steps for the traditional startup method that look something like this: 

  1. Identify a passion or skill set you can cash in on (in this case, I’m guessing it’s agriculture or husbandry).
  2. Write a farm business plan.
  3. Fund your business.
  4. Choose a location for your business.
  5. Choose a structure for your business.
  6. Decide on a business name.
  7. Form your business formally: register your business, get tax IDs for your business, apply for business licenses and permits, and open a business bank account. 
  8. Ultimately fail because this method is flawed. 

It’s pretty easy to see why many beginning farmers and business owners look at this startup method and think it’s a perfectly logical way to start a business. (That is, until you read the eighth step.) This startup method makes it seem like if you have a farming business plan, adequate funding, and the right location (in the case of starting a farming business, that means finding fertile land), profits will just start pouring in with little to no effort on the part of the business owners or farmers. 

Of course, the steps of this process and the desired outcomes sound nice, but there’s a lot more to starting a farm than this process implies. 

In fact, you can rigidly follow all the steps of the traditional startup process and still fail to establish a successful farming business. As a matter of fact, four out of every five businesses started using the traditional startup method will fail during their first year. 

These ill-fated businesses don’t fail because the owners or farmers weren’t ambitious enough or didn’t work hard enough to make their small farm prosper. Instead, they fail because the farms and other businesses were built on unstable business foundations that are the result of three very flawed assumptions that are present in the traditional startup method. 

Assumption 1: You have deep and intimate knowledge of your market

I’m betting that if you’re here to learn how to start a farm, you’re probably not an expert in the farming industry. Beginning farmers often don’t know much about many important aspects of owning a farm business, like how to sell produce at farmers markets, applying for various business licenses, and adhering to state and federal laws, as well as FDA and Department of Agriculture guidelines. 

Beginning farmers aren’t likely to know intricate details of the farming industry that the traditional startup method assumes they do. If you’ve started a farming business (even just to grow your own food), it’s likely that you know that farming isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lot of work. But you’ll need to do a lot of research and footwork to get started in the farming industry. 

The first flawed assumption of the traditional startup method is that beginning farmers have extensive knowledge of the farm industry—knowledge and experience that most farmers only achieve after decades of farming. So, it’s pretty ridiculous that the traditional startup method assumes that beginning farmers will immediately be experts in the farming industry. 

When you start a farm using the Lean Startup Method, however, you’ll gain experience and knowledge about the farming industry and other farms in your area (dairy farms, small farms, organic farms, etc.) while you’re running your small farming business. This is a lot easier than the traditional startup method, which expects you to learn about the farm industry and run your farm at the same time. Your agriculture business will have a better chance of succeeding because you won’t have as many challenges to juggle with the Lean Startup Method. 

Assumption 2: Your needs and wants are more important than your customers’ needs and wants 

Obviously, if you’re running a business, your goal is to make money. But any business that doesn’t pay attention to the wants and needs of its customers won’t keep its lights on and doors open for long. 

The traditional startup method encourages farmers to think of all the reasons that they want to own a farm. But it doesn’t take into account the needs of your farm’s customers, and it makes no effort to figure out why anyone would buy products from your farm. 

Your advertisements will sound a bit like “Please buy food from my farm” if you don’t consider the wants and needs of your customers, which isn’t a very good advertising strategy, and it could actually damage the reputation of your farm. 

Using the Lean Startup Method to start a farm, you’ll learn about your potential customer base and what they want from a new farming business. Is it difficult for people in your area to buy agricultural products directly from farms because there isn’t a big farmers market presence? Are there not many farmers or farms in your area? Do other farmers not sell produce and products at your local market? 

The second flawed assumption of the traditional startup method is that the desires of farmers and business owners outweigh the wants and needs of their customers. 

You’re encouraged to ask your customers what they think about your farm, your products and services when you start a farm using the Lean Startup Method. There are fewer financial risks associated with the Lean Startup Method because you aren’t required to start a farm business and spend oodles of money on it without finding out whether customers would actually buy your products. The customer feedback you receive is a real bonus for you as a farmer because you can use it not only to influence decisions you make about your farm business, but also to improve your products and services in a way your customers will love. 

Assumption 3: You have unlimited cash to burn

Wouldn’t it be great if money were a never-ending, renewable resource? Sadly, it’s not. So, farmers and business owners spending money carelessly and without restraint isn’t a good business model. All farmers and business owners have to take financial risks to a certain degree, but taking calculated financial risks doesn’t mean you should spend money you don’t have or pay an unnecessarily high cost for something. 

Starting a farm using the Lean Startup Method will involve selling produce and goods at local farmers markets and such, which is likely nothing close to the dreams of owning hundreds of acres of land, owning several types of animals, and having a diverse list of crops. 

If you were to start a farm using the traditional startup method, you’d jump straight into buying huge plots of land, buying and raising animals (regardless of whether you know how), and planting crops (without doing any research or finding out which crops you’re best at growing), buying farm equipment, obtaining licenses and permits, adhering to the Department of Agriculture and FDA guidelines, complying with inspections, and more—all without finding out which strategies work best for your farm business. The traditional startup method assumes that you have thousands of dollars to fund starting a farm on a large scale, that you’ve put in the work to network and make connections in the farming industry, and that you can instantly open your farm, gain customers, and start making a profit. 

Starting a farm can cost anywhere between $10,000–$5 million. That’s a lot of money that most farmers couldn’t afford to replace if their farm were to fail, and I’m betting that it would be a catastrophic financial blow for you, as well. 

If you use the Lean Startup Method to start your farm, you can start it in smaller increments while simultaneously networking in the farming industry, learning about farms and other farmers in the area, and turning a profit, all without taking sizable financial risks.

If you’d prefer that your farm not end up being one of the four out of five businesses that fail during their first year using the traditional startup method, and would rather see your farm grow and thrive instead, then the Lean Startup Method is a more suitable choice for you.

What is the Lean Startup Method?

There are three main ideas behind the Lean Startup Method: build, measure, and learn.

Starting a farm with the Lean Startup Method means you’ll experiment with ideas and products for your farm business. One important component of the Lean Startup Method is developing the cheapest, easiest ways to sell goods and services. You’ll immediately gain experience in the farming industry, but you learn gradually over time, whereas you’re expected to learn it all at once with the traditional startup method. The traditional startup method will guarantee the failure of your farm business because it requires you to create and stick to a business plan before you even know how to properly run your small farm. 

The first phase of the Lean Startup Method is the build phase, which involves talking to people in your area and finding out about problems they encounter with other farms or other farmers. 

During the measure phase you’ll test out the solution to the problem you came up with during the build phase. This will give you critical information about how well people actually like your farm business. 

The last phase is the learn phase. This phase gives you the opportunity to learn how satisfied your customers are and how they view the quality of your farm business’s agriculture products, animals, and overall customer service. If you find that one of your ideas isn’t working, you can scrap it before wasting time and money on a failing idea or strategy. Focusing on effective products and services will ultimately lead to more success for your small farm business. 

Build

During the build phase you’ll create a business idea and then start building your farm business. This process is started by first identifying a problem that people have with other farms and with the farming industry, creating a community for your farm, then recognizing an opportunity to solve the problem and developing that solution.

This phase is important because it provides you with an opportunity to determine whether ideas you have for your farm are feasible, and if the solutions you pose will meet the needs of your community. The main goals you’ll accomplish by completing the build phase are to build solid business foundations for your farm, and to make sure you’ve got the knowledge and tools you need to run a successful small farm business. 

Step 1: Identify a problem

The first step in your farming experience is to identify a problem that a lot of people have and that you think you can reasonably solve. 

As fun as it would be, you can’t jump right in and start selling agriculture products and animals with nothing but high hopes that people will purchase them because that’s not a good business strategy and it likely won’t be good for your farm in the long run. There are lots of small farms and many would-be farmers who dip their toes into the farming industry every day, and consumers can’t afford to spend money and support each one that pops up. So, you must think of a compelling reason for people to buy products from your farm. 

But finding this compelling reason is sometimes difficult. 

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a pain point, which is business jargon for a problem that lots of people have that causes them pain, discomfort, or annoyance to the point that they start seeking a solution to it. Usually in this situation, people will either think of a solution themselves or pay someone else to provide a solution for them. You want your small farm to be the solution. 

But mirroring the products, services, animals, or sales strategies used by other farms isn’t enough. Rather, you should find a problem people in your area face that can be uniquely solved by your farm. Are people in your area looking for fresh produce from a small farm, only to find that there aren’t any in the area? Is there more commercial farming in the area that doesn’t supply produce directly to the average consumer? Do all the local farms sell the same types of produce, agriculture products, or varieties of animals? How informed are people about the farming industry and how willing are they to support small farm businesses?

Pay attention to the concerns that customers bring to your attention. The concerns they raise can be a huge boon to your small farm when you’re starting out. Do other farms not provide a variety of fresh produce? Are people interested in fun recipes for their produce that other farmers aren’t providing? Would beginning farmers in your area appreciate being able to import seeds or plants from your farm? Are people in the community interested in farm-to-table food and organic options? 

After you’ve talked to a sample of the population, you’ll notice an echo of certain problems that you can start adding to future surveys. Be sure to ask the degree to which these problems affect customers. You should ask about other farms, as well, because doing so will give you a wealth of information about how satisfied customers are with other farms, the types of agriculture products currently on offer, some of the ways people are using produce and farm products, a bit about the farming industry, and what people expect from a new farm. Then you can sift through this information to find a problem you think you can solve. 

How do you choose which problem to focus on?

The Lean Startup Method doesn’t specify any way to choose a problem, but these tips should make it easier to choose a problem to solve: 

  1. Choose a problem common among many people. Are there not enough small farms in the area willing to sell produce to individuals, as opposed to commercial farms that sell to chain stores and big corporations? Do other farms not sell the types of produce that people in the area want to buy? Do people want produce and agriculture products that are easily stored, canned, or frozen? 
  2. Choose a problem that can be considered a pain point. Solving a problem that no one cares about isn’t really solving a problem. The more people that a problem causes distress to, the better a choice it is for your farm. Is there a lack of farmers markets or flea markets in your area that sell fresh produce? Are there no roadside produce stands in your area? 
  3. Choose a problem that can reasonably be solved. If people want exotic produce that aren’t designed to grow in your particular climate, you can’t reasonably meet that need with your farm. But what you can do is offer new produce and products periodically (weekly, monthly, or seasonally) so that your product offerings don’t stagnate. 

The main idea behind this step is to choose a problem that affects many people, causing distress or difficulty in their lives, and that they’re seeking a solution to—desperately enough that they’ll pay for it. 

Step 2: Build a community

Now you need to build a community for your farm. You should build this community from the people affected by the problem you’ve chosen to address. Start by creating a Facebook group, Reddit forum, Instagram page, or TikTok account for your farm. Upon completion of this step, you’ll have a community full of people who are affected by the problem you’ve chosen in the first step, are interested in new solutions to that problem, and will eventually be converted into a pool of potential customers for your farm. By developing your community, you’ll also be developing sales and marketing tactics of your farm and creating your brand. All this market research and work would require three separate steps if you were starting a farm using the traditional startup method, but with the Lean Startup Method you can get through it all in one easy step. 

Though online communities are fantastic, you’ll want to diversify your community options and give customers lots of ways to interact with you and each other. This means you should consider offline community options, as well. You can create an offline community by creating a meetup group or club and then scheduling regular in-person meetings. There are several benefits to offline communities, like the intimate, face-to-face interactions you’ll share with customers, and real-time feedback. 

Reasons to build a community:

  • You have the opportunity to learn more about the problem you’ve identified and how deeply it affects members of your community.
  • Your community gives you a place to start developing the brand and marketing strategies of your farming business and allows you to test them out on your developing customer base. 
  • Creating a community for your farming business means you’ll already have a customer base before you’ve even opened your business. This gives you a distinct advantage over any farm created using the traditional startup method because they have to create a customer base from scratch after they open. 
  • Creating a community gives you the option to obtain funding for your farm before its grand opening. 

How to build a community:

  • Start a Facebook group and gain members by discussing various farming and homesteading topics, like crop rotation, raised garden ideas, various crop-growing techniques, pictures of various produce, tips and tricks for raising animals, and even farming memes. The more you post content, make comments, interact with members, the bigger it will grow.
  • Create polls on Twitter. Customers love interactive media, and polls are a great way to make them feel like their voices are being heard while also getting word out about your farm. 
  • Post pictures from various farming events and competitions, like CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) events or 4H competitions. 
  • Use social media to network with other business owners, farmers, and officials in your area. By talking to these people you can learn a lot about various business startup activities, such as obtaining business licenses and complying with FDA and Department of Agriculture guidelines and regulations, as well as information about the farming industry and sales tactics of other farmers. 

When you create an online community, it gives people in your customer base a place to socialize and voice their opinions, as well as providing you with valuable information. Your community will tell you everything you want to know about other farms, as well as how they feel about your own farm. They’ll tell you all about the types of produce and products they buy, the fees other farmers charge, how satisfied they are with the customer service of other farms, and the types of products and services they’d like to see from a new farm.

It’s also important because it gives you a place to freely advertise your farm. Your community members will do a lot of the advertising work for you. As they interact, comment, and share your posts, as well as taking part in discussions, the more visible your pages and groups will become. And when word gets out that you make changes to your farm and its products based on the desires of your community, you’ll see a rise in membership. 

Step 3: Identify a solution opportunity

As ideal as it would be if you could solve a problem simply by recognizing it as a problem, that’s not the way the world works. So the third step is to figure out a way to solve the problem you’ve identified. 

While you’re building your community and conducting market research, ask people questions about other farms, their favorite produce or products from them, the advertisement and promotional practices of other farms, and about their satisfaction with the quality of products and customer service delivered by other farming businesses. It’s a good idea to turn to your community to ask these questions because you can use their answers to start brainstorming a solution. 

It’s important to ask questions about the marketing tactics of other farming businesses near you. Ask not only about the types of products and produce that farms are selling, but also about their websites, online sales, and loyalty programs. 

You can use information about the marketing tactics of other farms and the types of products your community wants to buy and how they use them to mold your business according to the needs of your community. 

Step 4: Develop a solution

The fourth step is developing a solution that your farm can deliver. It takes time and thought to develop a solution that adequately meets the needs of your community and that they’re willing to pay for. 

How to develop your solution:

  1. Think of solutions that your farm can deliver. If people voice disappointment that they can’t find a particular type of produce or product, that’s the first thing you should add to your inventory list. If your community says they’d like to see a farming business full of friendly employees who can give them information about the food and products they’re buying, as well as tips and tricks, you should base your brand around that. 
  2. Ask your community for feedback about your solution. Because it’s imperative that your solution meets the needs of your community, how they feel about your solution is just as important as the solution idea itself. Your solution should be something that your customer base likes, and that most of your community agrees solves their problem. It’s also a good idea to talk to other farm owners to find out if your solution is something you can realistically supply. 
  3. Create and develop your MVP, or minimum viable product. Your MVP is the one that costs the least to produce, is easily produced, and can easily be delivered to your customers. 

The best solution idea will solve your community’s problems, not cost a lot to produce, and be easily delivered to your community. By creating your MVP, your farm’s production costs will be low, and by alleviating this financial strain you give your farm a better chance of succeeding. 

Measure

When I use the word measure, I mean it in a scientific sense, synonymous with “test” or “experiment,” so you don’t need to grab your ruler just yet. During the measure stage, you’ll conduct a series of tests to find out about the viability of your solution. 

Step 5: Test your MVP

Once you’ve invented a solution, found it to be favorable among your community, then created your MVP, now you need to test it. One predominant component of the Lean Startup Method is experimentation, which means you’ll run numerous tests on your farm during its lifetime. 

You’ll need to consider many different factors when creating your MVP, like various regulations and laws, as well as business permits and licenses. But the beautiful thing about the Lean Startup Method is that if your solution idea doesn’t work out, you can just discard it and develop a new one. 

Testing your MVP before seeking funding for your farm may seem a little unorthodox, but it actually makes good financial sense. If you worked for a bank or financial institution and you were given two candidates for funding, the first who had completed extensive market research, created a community and customer base, and proved that it could sell its products, and the second who had nothing but a business plan and a dream, which one would you award the funding to? Most financial institutions would choose the surer bet. 

Of course, the idea of testing out your MVP can be a little scary, but it’s an important part of the Lean Startup Method. It can also help spread the word about your farm. 

There are a couple of different ways to test the MVP of your farm. One of the easiest is to go get a booth and hand out free produce or product samples. Choose something cheap that grows back rapidly so that you’re not losing too much money on this experiment, such as cucumbers, green onions, or tomatoes. Also, don’t just hand out whole vegetables. Slice them up and offer portions in condiment cups or something similar, which you can purchase quite cheaply. Or, choose a product that you can make a large batch of relatively quickly and easily, like samples of raw honey. 

The easiest way to accomplish this is to find a location where people are interested in the products you’re offering. Of course, lots of people are going to be interested in free fresh vegetables, but you’re more likely to gain interest at a farmers market, flea market, or at a local spring event. Choose events associated with food, families, and nature.

Ask people about the products and services you’re offering. Do people like the produce and products your farm supplies? Do people like your recommendations about various produce and products? Were your cucumbers crisp and refreshing? Do your tomatoes taste better than store-bought ones? What was their favorite sample item? Were customers happy with the customer service of the people at your booth? Would they come back to buy more? Have you made a profit selling your agriculture products or animals? Which products or animals sell the best? 

You’ll be able to tell if this experiment was a success if you get lots of visitors to your booth and they’re enthusiastically talking about your products and your farm. You’ll know it wasn’t a success if there aren’t many people coming to your booth or you have lots of samples left untouched. Let’s face it, if you’re giving away free food samples, there should be a lot of traffic to your booth and lots of excited people who want to learn about your farm. 

Step 6: Sell your MVP

You’ve now learned a bit about the market and tested your MVP, so the next step is to sell your MVP. Selling your farm’s products using the Lean Startup Method isn’t as flashy or exciting as the fantasies of a huge corporate farm with hundreds of acres. 

This step is important because it’s the last one before you go on to learn more about your products and then attempt to secure funding for your farm. Upon completing this step, your farm will have a distinct advantage over farms who used the traditional startup method because it will prove that you know how to sell your products, that you can run a successful business, and that your business is worthy of the funding necessary to expand and buy a bigger farm. 

You likely don’t have the full approval of the FDA and Department of Agriculture at this point, so selling your products is going to look a bit different. If you’re a dairy farmer, there are some rules to remember, like that selling “raw milk” isn’t legal in many places, but selling cheese, butter, and baked goods made from the milk is, and so is selling dairy cows. If you’re selling produce, you’re not going to have the land and resources necessary to supply major companies or stores, but you can grow enough to set up a stall at your local farmers market or flea market. You can even set up a roadside stand or set up a more permanent stall somewhere if you find a good location. Owning a stationary location means customers can return and tell other people about it. 

Once you’ve become established, you could also consider adding a store or stall on your farm. This means that instead of you taking your goods to the public to sell them, they’ll come to you. 

By selling your MVP you’ll learn which products sell and which advertising and sales promotions work for your farming business. You’ll also gain knowledge about the farming industry and build up a loyal customer base. 

Learn

The last of the core ideas that make up the Lean Startup Method is learn. After you build the idea for your business and then measure to determine if your solution is viable, it’s time to learn what customers think about your business. You’ll then use this feedback to improve your products and services. 

Step 7: Get feedback on your product idea

By this point, you’ve created a community full of customers and interacted with them, identified and chosen a problem to solve, developed a solution, tested your MVP, and then sold it. This means you should know which market strategies work for your farm and how much money you can make with it. So, now you must obtain feedback about your business. Here’s how you can most effectively use the information you’ve gathered in the learn phase to improve your business and foster continued success: 

  • Survey your community to learn about their favorite products, specifically what they like about them, how your products measure up to those of your competitors, and which products your customers would like more of. 
  • Pay attention to customer feedback. Do they report excellent sales experiences with your farm? Do they like the quality of your products or vegetables? Do people like your Beefsteak or your Mr. Stripey tomatoes better? How does your farm business compare to other farm businesses? What’s your top-selling product? Are there any recommendations being repeatedly made in your comments section?
  • Use the feedback to then start making changes to your products and services in a way that your customers have requested. If you do business this way, your company will eventually evolve to be almost completely designed by customer demand and feedback, which will give them a more favorable opinion about your products and your business in general. 

A lot of this information can be obtained from social media. Create polls on your social media pages, or set up a survey on your landing page or website. It’s a good idea to read online reviews for your farm, too, because they’re chock-full of information about how you can change your products and services. 

After you’ve gathered all this feedback and carefully analyzed it, and you feel that you have a thorough understanding of what your customers want, you can start making changes to your business and its products. Making changes to your business based on customer feedback will lead to happier customers, and happy customers are always good for business. 

Study the sales and marketing tactics of other farms. Every time they implement a new sale or promotion, they’re attempting to solve a problem that people in your community are facing. If their sales and promotions don’t work, then you’ll know you shouldn’t employ those tactics yourself, but if they do then you should look into why they’re working and what problem they’re trying to solve so you can implement similar strategies. 

The feedback and information you receive from your community is vital to the expansion and success of your business. It’ll also help your business compete in the farming industry, which is massively helpful. 

Why use the Lean Startup Method?

If a salesman were to tell you that a particularly expensive product would fall apart or fail within a year of purchasing it, would you still go through with that sale? It sounds silly when it’s worded that way, but that’s how the traditional startup method works. Four in five businesses started using the traditional startup methods will close within a year. 

Starting a farm with the traditional startup method requires you to take on considerable financial risks, which isn’t good news for beginning farmers. Market research and learning about the farm industry aren’t requirements of the traditional startup method, so you sort of just have to jump in and hope that your business succeeds. But as the owner of a small farm using the Lean Startup Method, you’ll continually test different agriculture products and animal varieties on your customers and then make changes to your product offerings based on the feedback they provide you. Farmers who use the Lean Startup Method to start their farms have an automatic advantage over farms started using the traditional startup method.

The initial cost to start a small farm business with the Lean Startup Method is considerably lower than the cost to start farms with the traditional startup method. This is because the traditional startup process assumes that aspiring farmers have the funding to cover the production costs and operating costs of a huge commercial farm business. The Lean Startup Method allows you to slowly learn about the farming industry as well as how to run your small farm business successfully before you consider getting to the big commercial farm stage. 

Why am I able to tell you so confidently that your small farm business has better chances if you use the Lean Startup Method? I’ve started five different businesses over the course of the past eight years using the Lean Startup Method. I’ve successfully sold three of those companies, but I still manage two of them to this day. And I can help you learn how to start a farm using the Lean Startup Method, too! 

What’s next? 

Now you’ve successfully proven that you can run a farm on your own, conducted thorough research into the industry, and received and used customer feedback to improve your products and services. All this work will pay off and make your business more successful in the long run. Now is the time to think about expanding and upgrading your farm. It’s time to check into Department of Agriculture and FDA approval, as well as the regulations and permits required by your local government. Luckily, you have a ton of experience and knowledge from completing the lean startup process, so it should be easy to draw up a good business plan, choose a business name, and get funding from a financial institution. 

But you still have a lot of work to do after you’ve secured funding for the farm of your dreams. 

You’re likely going to need to hire employees to help with all the farm work, so you’ll need to obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. It’s also a good idea to open a business bank account for your business. 

Another important task is choosing a business structure for your farming business. There are several business structure options available to you, such as a corporation, sole proprietorship, or limited liability company (LLC). If you’d like to learn more about LLC formation, read How to Start an LLC

You’ll also need to consider what’s known as a “registered agent.” A registered agent is a person or business entity that accepts mail, legal documents, and service of process on behalf of your business during normal business hours. If you’d like to learn more about registered agent services, read the Best Registered Agent Services.

You should consider the location of your farm carefully. This is a bit different from other businesses, because you’ll need to buy land for agricultural purposes. You’ll also need to choose a location that can accommodate various types of farm equipment. You can also choose to buy a storefront to sell your produce. If you choose that route, then you’ll need to choose a location that has good foot traffic and parking. 

Here’s a list of some of the tasks you’ll need to complete to build a successful farming business: 

  1. Hire employees: You’ll need to hire employees that are knowledgeable and whom you can trust. Some of the positions you should hire for include farm worker or farmhands, growers, grain elevator operator, agricultural equipment technician, purchasing agent, warehouse manager, agricultural specialist, sales representative, crop manager, environmental engineer, and feed mill manager. 
  2. Follow state and federal requirements: State governments usually impose requirements that farms must adhere to. And then there are various federal agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, United States Department of Agriculture, and FDA that regulate the cultivation of food, as well. 
  3. Hire security: You’re going to want good security because there are a number of predatory animals that feed on livestock, and many animals that will attempt to eat your crops. That’s not to mention human security breaches. So, it’s a good idea to set up a good security system and hire a good security team. Or get a big dog.
  4. Find the right vendors and breeders: Of course, at some point you’ll become a breeder yourself, but in the meantime you’re going to need to buy plants, seeds, and livestock from good vendors and breeders. Good vendors and breeders will not only provide you with products and animals at low prices, but they’ll also provide you with quality products. 
  5. Switch on the utilities: Once you’ve upgraded your farm, it’s time to switch on the utilities. Some of the things you’ll need include electricity, water, air conditioning, gas or electricity for heating, and Wi-Fi. 
  6. Business software: Just because you’re running a farm doesn’t mean your business is exempt from technological advancement. Good business software can be used for things like payroll processing, tracking sales and inventory, managing taxes, and more. For more information about how business software can benefit your farm, check out my Best Business Software article. 
  7. Acquire legal advice: Because you’ll be working closely with several government agencies, as well as supplying a food product to consumers, it’s a great idea to get legal advice to cover any legal issues that may pop up. Any legal issues could set your business back, but online legal services can make compliance and other issues a breeze. To learn more, check out my article on the Best Online Legal Services
  8. Experiment with your products: Sure, customers are raving about your product list for now, but if it never changes, it’ll get stale and they’ll become bored with it. Nobody wants to eat the same type of food all the time. Adding new products to your list will expose your customers to new experiences and flavors, while also keeping your product list fresh and exciting. You can add new products on a weekly, monthly, or seasonal basis. If one of your products or services takes off, you can consider adding it permanently to your service offerings. 

Conclusion

Congratulations! It’s hard work to buy your own farm. Learning how to start a farm is even more scary when you learn that four out of every five businesses started using the traditional startup method fail within a year of opening. But if you choose the Lean Startup Method instead, you’ll give your business a better chance of success. Here are the steps to starting a business using the Lean Startup Method: 

  1. Identify a problem.
  2. Build a community.
  3. Identify a solution opportunity.
  4. Develop a solution.
  5. Test your minimum viable product (MVP).
  6. Sell your MVP.
  7. Get feedback on your product idea.

You haven’t completed the process once you’ve finished the last step. Instead, you’ll continually go through the build, measure and learn steps throughout the life of your business, which will guarantee its success. 

Whichever startup method you choose, learning how to start a farm is difficult, to say the least. But if you’ve got aspirations of fulfilling the agricultural needs of your community and you’re ambitious enough to see it through, then the Lean Startup Method will afford you a blanket of security knowing that your business will have a better chance of overall success. 

Congratulations again, and best of luck with your farm!