Steps to Ag Business Development - Introduction

Why this Guide?

Many resources are available for persons wishing to turn an idea into a business. However, those resources are widely sown across a large field of public and private entities. This guide is intended to help the entrepreneurial explorer find their way to the types of assistance best suited to their needs.

Who Should Use It?

You may be a producer wishing to start a business that would effectively gather in a few links of the Value-Added food chain. You may be an existing main street business that wants to expand into the storefront next door. Perhaps you are a manufacturer who wants to capitalize on a market opportunity. This guide is meant for a broad audience that includes first-time entrepreneurs, existing business owners exploring new opportunities, and persons just wanting to understand more about the entrepreneurial process and the various types of assistance.

What it Will Help you Do?

It will first help you validate your idea and translate it into a format which lenders, developers, investors and technical assistance providers can all understand. Secondly, the guide is intended to point you in the direction of persons, parties and agencies that may provide assistance. Plan of the guide. Though some may want to read each page, the guided has been designed as a reference piece. Every business idea is unique, but the stages of development tend to be mostly the same. This guide is divided into seven parts that address the typical formation process:

There are a total of 34 chapters that address key facets of each of the stages. To make sure that you can easily find information vital to your specific needs, linkages have been created to assist your search.

Part One: The Idea

  1. How can I tell if I have what it takes to turn my idea into a business?
  2. How can I tell if my idea is really worth making an attempt to turn it into a business?
  3. How do I protect my idea from being copied?
  4. What tools will I need to explore my idea?
  5. Should I do this by myself, or should assemble a group of other like-minded people?
  6. Where do I turn to for help with the Idea stage of the process?

Part Two: Organization

  1. What are the first considerations regarding organization?
  2. What types of things can be expected when people work in groups?
  3. How does brainstorming work?
  4. Where can I find examples of good ways to get organized?
  5. Is assistance available for this part of the process?

Part Three: Feasibility

  1. How does a feasibility study differ from a business plan?
  2. What is included in checking the feasibility of an idea?
  3. What if the feasibility study indicates the idea may not work?
  4. Where do I go for technical assistance?

Part Four: Planning

  1. Why do I need a business plan?
  2. What are the parts of a good business plan?
  3. How are the parts of a business plan filled out to present a picture of the business?
  4. Where can I turn for help in assembling a business plan for value added businesses?
  5. Where is the best place to go for information about licensing and permits?

Part Five: Capital

  1. What are some key considerations regarding financing?
  2. How do the sources of financing differ?
  3. Are there any specific resources for Value Added Ag ventures in Iowa?
  4. What types of assistance does the USDA offer for new ag related businesses?
  5. What are the opportunities for local funding?
  6. Are there other sources of funding for small business startups?

Part Six: Marketing

  1. What are the fundamentals of a good marketing strategy?
  2. What is the best way to get my products to market? Direct? Wholesale? Other?
  3. How often should my marketing strategy be updated?
  4. What type of public assistance is available for marketing?

Part Seven: Production

  1. What could be my major concerns regarding production?
  2. How do I hire and keep good employees?
  3. What if my positions require workers with unique training or specialized job skills?
  4. Who can help me with my production questions?
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