CAFE II Startup

One of the most important actions people can take when considering starting a new enterprise is to ask themselves a series of questions. Looking at the answers to those questions will determine if the proposed enterprise makes sense for them. Resources including publications, web sites and contacts are critical to receiving enough information to answer the questions appropriately.

Startup Funding

Key Questions

  1. How can I tell if I have what it takes to turn my idea into a business?
  2. Does the enterprise have promise to deliver large enough revenue relative to the investment required?
  3. Is this enterprise adaptable to my area?
  4. Do I have the "know how" to produce and sell this product?
  5. Is "selling" a new product to a customer something I'm comfortable with?
  6. Is this something I will enjoy doing?
  7. Are there significant sources of production, financial and marketing risk?
  8. What tools will be most helpful as I work my way through the stages of development?
  9. Should I do this by myself, or should I assemble a group of other like-minded people?
  10. Where do I turn for help with the idea stage of the process?

Publications to Get You Started

  • PRIMER for Selecting New Enterprises for Your Farm - University of Kentucky Extension publication -The PRIMER takes the reader through an evaluation process relating to potential Profitability, Resource requirements, Information needs, Marketing decisions, Enthusiasm for, and the Risk associated with a potential new enterprise. Includes worksheets to aid in the decision process on whether or not to begin a new enterprise.
  • What Can I Do with my Small Farm - Oregon State University - This publication emphasizes the planning process starting with goals for the farm, understanding the physical resources of the farm (soils, water availability, climate and microclimate), family resources and skills (finances, credit, and evaluating skills and strengths), and the type of farm enterprise and crop produced. The discussion on type of farm enterprise and crop produced focuses on production technique (conventional, organic, or sustainable), type of crop (traditional or specialty), and marketing skills (direct or wholesale). Other topics such as labor pool availability, access to markets, and supportive farm community complete the guide.
  • Keys to Success in Value-Added Agriculture - ATTRA publication - This publication outlines the keys to short-run and long-run success. 

Other Websites to Visit
The ISU Extension Value Added Agriculture Program website includes 34 chapters addressing key issues in determining whether a new enterprise makes sense for you. The chapters go through the decision making or business formation process including:

Idea  Organization  Feasibility  Planning  Capitalization  Marketing  Production

The Missouri Alternatives Center is devoted to helping those "who want to begin farming, diversify their current operations or find ways to profit from small amounts of acreage." The site has a tremendous amount of resources and linkages.

Under the "Starting Your Own Business" section of the website, a prospective entrepreneur can determine if they have what it takes to start their own business.


Numerous worksheets can be used to assist people in developing a new idea or business. The worksheets listed below are some of the better worksheets available. Worksheets generally can be divided into three main topics: (A) value statements, goals and objectives; (B) current assessment and strategic planning; and (C) business plan development, implementation and monitoring.

Values, goals and objectives worksheets

1. Building a Sustainable Business (Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture)

2. Ag-Alternatives (Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development)

Personal and Family Considerations Worksheets

  • Business Qualities Checklist (Worksheet 1)
  • Family Needs and Preferences (Worksheet 2)
  • Goals and Objectives for a New Enterprise (Worksheet 3)

Current assessment and strategic planning worksheets

1. Building a Sustainable Business (Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture)

2. Ag-Alternatives (Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development)

  • Identifying Alternatives Worksheets
    • Physical Resources (Worksheet 1)
    • Market Resources (Worksheet 2)
    • Management and Labor Resources (Worksheet 3)
    • By-Product Resources (Worksheet 4)
    • Financial Resources (Worksheet 5)
    • Idea Evaluation Chart (Worksheet 6)
  • Marketing Worksheets
    • Product/Service Definition (Worksheet 1)
    • Target Market Definition (Worksheet 2)
    • Marketing Options (Worksheet 3)
    • Existing Market Demand (Worksheet 4)
    • Competition (Worksheet 5)
    • Market Trends (Worksheet 6)
    • Expected Price (Worksheet 7)
  • Production Requirements Worksheets
    • Management and Labor Requirements (Worksheet 6)
    • Quality and Production Rate (Worksheet 8)
    • Business Size (Worksheet 9)
    • Legal, Regulatory, and Liability Factors (Worksheet 10)

Business Plans Worksheets

1. Building a Sustainable Business (Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture)