Fine-tune Your Agritourism Operation

steve-driving-the-tractor-980-websiteGetting the most out of any business requires constant adjustment and fine-tuning. Agritourism businesses need the same thing as noted in this blog post by Michigan State University Extension.

In the post, they pulled together three tools to help you take a good look at your agritourism business. These tools came from the University of Vermont Extension, University of California Extension and Louisiana State University Extension.

You may also want to look at a resource booklet from Oklahoma and another from Oregon.

Agritourism offers some great opportunities to develop additional income from available resources. Achieving that goal requires you manage it like any other business. These guides can help.

Still wondering if agritourism is an opportunity for you?  Here are four farms that made it work. They are just a small sample of what there is to offer.

Growing Pains

Change

Photo (CC) by Nana B. Agyel, on Flickr

One of the objectives at Power of Business is to learn from other business owners. Often others have already experienced the path we, as a business owner, are thinking about or already on.

This is a great story examining how growth turned out to be less than a great thing for Copper Pot Carmels.

According to the article, the issues started as the owners started to streamline the process in order to keep up with demand. What surprised them was the customer reaction.  And what was the streamlining? An automated wrapping machine which demanded a new type of wrapper.

Read how they had to step back and refocus and what their future plans are. Also pay attention to their passion for the business in terms of the hours they were working.  Lots of lessons to learn such as talking to your customer before making a big change.  You should also appreciate their attitude that “It’s not the end or an era; it’s the end of a chapter.”

Hopefully a reversed decision does not end your business but instead help you instead decide how to move forward. 

As you read the article, how might you have handled the situation? Lessons learned.

Planning and Your Small Business

stategic plan sign

Photo (CC) by Robert Scoble, on Flickr

During a conversation the other day with a colleague, he mentioned an acronym, “splots.” When asked what it stood for, he replied, “strategic plan left on the shelf.”

I had not heard that term before but it certainly resonated with me. It is common to hear managers talk about how, after writing a plan, it then gets put on the shelf and not used. It happens in businesses, in nonprofits, and even among individuals as we write our “New Year’s resolutions. Many business owners comment that the writing of a plan was done as a document to give to bankers and investors as the owner looked for a money to open and operate a business. The plan is viewed as a one-time thing done for a specific purpose.

Leaving the plan on the shelf may be an indicator, however, that the business owner is also not continuing the strategic planning process. If that is the case, then the owner may be missing a potential resource. The process of planning is much more than the production of a static document. It is, instead, the opportunity to make changes and adjustments to methods and goals. It is that process that offers the return to the owner and to the business. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”

Planning must be on-going. The business is operating in a rapidly changing world, nothing remains static. As such, the owner must be constantly gathering new information as well as checking back on predicated milestones. Are they being reached? Are deadline dates being met? And most importantly, what adjustments need to be made going forward in the future? Doing this means taking full advantage of the work that was done. While the static words on paper of a plan may go quickly out of date, the dynamic and ongoing nature of part of planning, the activity, offers the rewards.

If an owner feels that he or she has a splot, the remedy begins with pulling the plan off the shelf. Then the owner must: 1) gather new data, both internal and external; 2) compare the new information with what the old ideas; 3) make adjustments; and 4) communicate the changes, the achievements and the shortfalls to those needing this information. By building an awareness and by practicing the planning process, these efforts will become a habit and will blend seamlessly into the organization’s structure and culture.

Building and maintaining a strong business in today’s environment is hard. Strategic planning as an ongoing process is one way to make that happen.