How, When, and Why of Forest Farming
Unit 7 : Marketing Specialty Forest Crops
Setting Goals and Personal Considerations
What Are Your Goals and Expectations?
Prior to setting out on the path of entrepreneurial endeavors, it is important to have a clear understanding of your destination. What are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish? Are you looking for a hobby with profit on the side or a primary source of income? The traditional farmer may look for an enterprise that can increase income at certain times of the year, while the private forest owner may be interested in producing enough income to cover his or her property taxes. For some, the love of working the land may exceed desire for income.
It’s helpful to follow a few guidelines to clearly define what it is you hope to accomplish. These guidelines are referred to as the “SMART” criteria:
- Specific: Be specific in the amount you hope to sell or produce
- Measurable: Identify target dates to meet your goal
- Attainable: Set goals that do not set you up for failure
- Timeline: Identify both short term and long term goals
Another useful tool is the SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis is simply an inventory of one’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Jonathan Kays and Joy Drohan have developed a collection of worksheets specifically designed to provide a starting point for landowners who interested in this kind of self inventory. Below you will find one such worksheet created by Maryland Cooperative Extension entitled My Resources, Goals, and Possible Enterprises. Completing this worksheet should give you a better idea of where you are now and where you would like to go with your NTFC business.
|Assessing My Resources, Goals, and Possible Enterprises|
- Briefly describe your property, using the following characteristics: (a) distance from home; (b) location; (c) access; (f) other pertinent information
- Describe the long and short-term goals that you and your team hope to achieve by starting this new enterprise.
- Will you be involved in the enterprise as resident or nonresident landowners? How will that affect your enterprise options?
- Name up to five enterprises you are considering. Describe your background in or experience with each type of enterprise.
- List the family members or team members who want to be actively involved. Describe each person’s responsibilities.
- Specify how much time each week you and your teammates will have available to spend on you new enterprise.
- How much money can each team member provide now to initiate the enterprise?
- Check the responses that best characterize your business goals during the next three to five years for you current enterprise. Answer any follow-up questions.
- Maintain at about the same level as in the past _______________
- Expand. How?
- Cut back some. How?
- Get out altogether. Why?
- The following information will help you determine your financial goals for any current or new enterprise. List the yearly income you (and your family or teammates) expect from the sources listed below:
- Current farm/forest enterprises____________________
- New enterprise (once it is established) ______________
- Non-natural-resource employment (current job)________
- Other _______________
- Total _______________
The enterprise budget, an essential tool for any NTFC entrepreneur, can also be used as a formal goal statement as it involves listing the production goal, management activities, resource requirements, and economic returns. Dr. Edward Raburn of the West Virginia Extension Service (http://www.caf.wvu.edu/~forage/enterprise/enterprise.htm) identified four primary sections of the enterprise budget which include the following:
- Production goal
- Expected market price and gross receipts
- Planned management activities with required resource inputs and costs
- Estimated net return and break even price (BEP) for the goal production
Further information on enterprise budgets can be found in Section 4: Product Development and Economic Considerations.