Here are a few of the top tips from the entrepreneurs:
Mary Donnell, Donnell and Associates and Green City Growers on business planning:
– Business planning is key to establishing a successful farm or food enterprise.
– “Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint hearted.”
– Start with what you can figure out yourself and there are wonderful online tools for the rest.
– “A business plan gives you a roadmap to success.”
– Be careful about assumptions. Do thorough market research.
– “Start with the seed of your business idea, use the business plan process to germinate that idea and then see the fruits of your labors.”
Dave Ranallo, founder of Azoti:
– It is very difficult to raise money in the Midwest, compared to the coasts.
– “Start you business as if you will never see money until you show price points to customers.”
– “Be good at sales or find someone who is.”
– “Sales and profit are not dirty words.”
– Create a demand first and then create the solution for that demand.
– “If there is no market, it’s just a hobby.”
Chrissie Laymon owner of The Farm on Kenyon Road:
– You have to be a people person
– People are interested in knowing you, what you do and why you do it.
– Take advantage of social media.
– Build a community of support and also with your customers and other businesses.
– “Make the experience people are used to at the grocery store on the farm.”
– “Start small with one idea or product and do it very well, and then add something else and do it well. Slowly.”
Kate Djupe founder of The Commissary:
– “Give yourself more time than you think you will need to do business planning.”
– Funding food businesses or ideas that are relatively new is tough to do through banks.
– Pursue alternative funding opportunities such as crowd source tools such as Kickstarter.
– Know when to ask for help.
– Get people who regulate you to buy in to your business.
– People have a lot of curiosity about food; take advantage of that by helping them.