Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses

Regardless of whether you are a beginning entrepreneur who has recently inherited a business, an experienced farmer who is considering on-farm processing, or a retiring business owner who is looking to pass on the farm, business planning is important. It is an ongoing process that begins with the identification of values and ends with a strategic plan to address critical management functions.

Like many rural entrepreneurs, you may have a strong sense of the values that drew you to the land or inspired you to begin a business. You may also have a clear set of personal and business goals that you would like to pursue “when the time is right.” But, if you’re like most farmers and rural business owners, you run into problems when trying to incorporate values and goals into day-to-day business decisions. How can you build a balanced and sustainable business—one that reflects your values and is successful—in the long run?

Unlike most other business planning tools, Building a Sustainable Business: A Planning Guide for Farmers and Rural Business Owners takes a whole-farm approach. You will consider traditional business planning and marketing principles as well as your personal, economic, environmental and community values—those less tangible things that are a part of your thoughts every day, but which often don’t become a planned part of your business. You will be asked to integrate values with business management practices throughout this Guide.

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