When you’re a farmer, you come face to face with tough management questions that need to be decided every day, both for the survival of your business and ultimately, the comfort of your family.
Ever-evolving market economics and uncertain weather conditions make farming an exciting yet somewhat stressful business to navigate. However, by studying changes in the agricultural industry and asking some of your own soul-searching questions, it’s possible to improve and protect your farm despite what changes take place in the industry. Enter hobby farming, an increasingly popular, small-scale business venture that provides supplemental income to young — and often urban-bred — entrepreneurs.
The following are a few suggestions on what you can do to improve efficiency and protect your assets while you build your small-scale hobby farming operation.
Learn to network
Farmers these days are not isolated and alone; there’s tremendous opportunity for farmers to join together and share ideas, strategies, and even equipment. Getting involved with one another is the key to strengthening the future of agriculture.
Join the local conservation board, share ideas with local politicians, and befriend people around you who share similar passions and interests. By learning from each other, you glean useful information you can apply towards developing stability for your own enterprise.
While technology might not make or break your operation, it’s been designed for a reason; to make our lives easier. Taking advantage of new technologies in workflow and field analysis will allow you to fully utilize your resources and maximize their potential.
Advancements in farm equipment and accessibility to funding provide you with the tools necessary to leverage your success by reducing your overall workload and allowing you to accomplish more in less time. The more efficiently you run your operation, the greater your chances of long-term success. Farming is a tough business, so you should take advantage of any means necessary to simplify and streamline your day-to-day processes.
Educate potential customers about how you grow your product
Consumers have never been more discriminating than they are today when it comes to food and personal care products. Showing that you embrace integrity with respect to the growth and development of your products gives customers the peace of mind that you’re providing the best possible bang for their buck.
The more you teach your customers about your growing process and all the love and care you put into it, the more likely you’ll be to grow a large, loyal customer base.
Use resources wisely
Using resources wisely and responsibly is important, even when times are lean. Plus, processes like drip irrigation and composting will help grow your operation.
Teaching others about the responsible use of resources is a way to give something back to the community, providing valuable techniques and tools your neighbors might need to sustain their own long-term farm operations. Take care of Mother Earth, and she will in turn take care of you.
Look after your team
Whether you employ friends and family members or hire outside help, you need to surround yourself with a loyal, hardworking team — and then compensate them fairly.
Be mindful of best safety practices when training your staff to work with farm equipment and chemicals, and provide enough time for rest and recovery so your valued employees don’t experience burnout.
Farming is hard work, but it’s also very rewarding. Let your team know how valuable and indispensable they are, and offer them a chance to invest in the business you’re building.
Look at the numbers
Keeping a close eye on your numbers and performing a cost analysis breakdown by field enables you to see which aspects of your operations are cost effective and which are not. When it comes to turning a profit, it really is all about the numbers. Long-term success hobby farming means a careful balance of those numbers and, with time, consistent annual growth.
Prepare yourself for regulations
The farm industry is always evolving. Just when you think you have a handle on the myriad of regulations you need to follow, you’ll find that they’ve changed. Don’t be too rigid in your thinking or with your methods of operation; be flexible and embrace the changes that come, having faith that the regulations are there for the benefit of all concerned. Stay positive and try to embrace change.
Get ready for a wonderful career where you get to give back to the world and create something larger than yourself. You’re building a legacy; something to take pride in as you’re not only sustaining your family, but benefitting countless others with your products and services. So hats off to you, dear farmer! We couldn’t get by without you.