Tips for entrepreneurs overheard at the Ohio Farm and Food Leadership Forum

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.