Planting seeds of business opportunity

New approaches can mean new customers for a custom business.

This year, many farmers are looking for opportunities – whether it’s taking on more custom work, starting a new side business or trying to rent additional acres. New opportunities can make a big difference as you strengthen and diversify your operation.

As you’re thinking about new potential opportunities, here’s something to keep in mind. How will you find new customers or new landlords? What will you do to raise awareness with potential customers?

If you’ve typically approached finding new customers in a particular way, what are some other ideas you could try? Start by asking: What are we currently doing? What are we not doing that we could try? What tweak could we make to our current approach that may help us get better results?

The approach

One farmer knew his operation could greatly benefit from taking on more custom work. To do that, of course, he needed to find more customers. There were two very different ways he could approach this challenge.

The first approach was to think, well, there doesn’t really seem to be any custom work out there – I’ll just wait until someone calls me and asks if I want to do some. Luckily, this isn’t what he did.

The other option was to ask himself: What can I do differently to get my name out there? He decided to be intentional about talking with each of his neighbors and landlords. He explained how he’d really like to do more custom work and asked them to let others know what he was offering.

He also went to each current customer. He talked with them about their experience working with him. Then he asked if they’d refer someone they knew who might be interested in having custom work done.

On another farm, the farmer’s son had recently come back to the operation and was hoping to farm additional acres. They brainstormed together about how the son could talk with people in the area and ‘beat the bushes’ to see what was out there.

Knock on opportunity’s door

Actions like these help you drive toward the vision of what you want your farm to become. You’re not waiting for opportunity to come knock on your door. You’re taking the initiative and knocking on opportunity’s door yourself.

As you work on your farm business, it may become easier to think of new ways of approaching challenges like finding new customers or landlords. The process can help generate ideas from yourself and others in your operation – ideas that might not come to mind as easily when you’re operating your farm each day.

Are you considering how to approach new opportunities? Would you like some help thinking through ideas and approaches you can try in your operation? You might talk with a farm business advisor about your farm’s unique situation and brainstorm with them.

Get more ideas on farm business leadership and management in our Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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