V. Developing a Business Plan

Sure, you have an agritourism idea for your business, but do you have a business plan? And do you need a written plan? It depends. The format for your business plan can vary greatly. If you’re seeking outside financing, you will likely need a formal, comprehensive business plan, for which there are many guides. If you’re establishing a partnership or other legal structure, you’ll want a written plan to spell out agreements regarding business goals, operations, and key roles and responsibilities. Even if you’re investing only your own money, you may sleep better with a written plan! Without such a plan, your business can grow so fast and unfocused that it takes over your life, or it can stagnate as a cash drain that detracts from your most important life goals.

If you’re not writing a business plan for an outside audience, you can certainly keep it focused and brief. It should include the following:

Basic Contents of a Business Plan for Agritourism
Adapted from "Farmer Agritourism Resources: Write Your Business Plan", New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Executive Summary (one page)
Mission Statement - Your venture's core purpose
Business Overview - The operation type, size facilities, location
Industry Profile - Trends, competition
Market Potential and Marketing Plan (see Section VII for more on marketing plans)
Operation and Management Plan - Key roles responsibilities, qualifications of management
Financial Statements - How the operation will be financed, including pro-formas (projections of revenue and expenses with break-even analysis)

General Resources for Business Planning and Management

Financing Your Agritourism Operation

Testing the Water with Small Experiments

Of course, your written business plan is not written on stone. When you see promising opportunities, you may want to consider how you can test your new ideas simply and cheaply – following the trend of retail pop-up temporary shops and food carts. For example, could a small event, open house or tour provide a useful testing ground? You can even plan to experiment as part of your business plan!

Treo Ranches in Heppner provides a great example of business evolution from a traditional ranch to a fee-based hunting lodge, to bike tourism, and now to pheasant pie production. See their story below: