A small agribusiness can be started as source of supplementary income, or as full-time employment. As with any business, it is important to draft a comprehensive business plan, including an evaluation of the potential market and an assessment of startup and operating costs. Any agricultural enterprise is going to be subject to local zoning regulations, the requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and applicable state and local laws.
The growing popularity of organic products provides opportunities to small-scale farmers. Organic retailers frequently buy from local growers, as do high-end restaurants that want to feature organic cuisine. Organic retailers also feature unique, higher-priced products that are ideal for small-scale farming. Often local organic growers will work cooperatively to lower costs, for example by sharing delivery costs, by marketing jointly or by recycling farming byproducts. Local growers can be an excellent source of information regarding both untapped market niches and best practices for starting a small agribusiness. Aspiring organic farmers should be aware of relevant organic standards and the high level of quality required for success.
Any agribusiness that grows crops or raises livestock can look to improve profitability by processing its output into food items, clothing or household items. Alternatively, a business that looks to market directly to consumers can reduce startup costs by sourcing raw inputs from other local farmers. If the venture proves successful, farming could be initiated as a progressive step in business development. Some specific food ideas include producing fruit jams, cheese, wine or smoked meats.
Many people are interested in agribusiness out of a desire to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers or other marketable plants. For the small farmer, success depends on growing quality produce, achieving consistent results and marketing effectively. Crop choice will depend on growing conditions, including climate, soil and amount of growing space available. For the small grower, a unique or high-end product can be more conducive to success, such as a specialty herb or a gourmet varietal of a particular vegetable.
Raising livestock can yield numerous agribusiness models, including livestock breeding, selling livestock products, selling meat or dealing in live animals. It is best to focus on business models that do not require economy of scale, and are unlikely to receive competition from larger agribusinesses. Products outside the agricultural mainstream often provide the best return. Examples might include raising ostriches or alpacas, or starting a tilapia fish farm. As with any business, it is easier to be successful when there is a clear path to marketing success.