“11 QUESTIONS” Business PLANNING WORKSHEETS
In 2020 I decided I wanted to become a farmer for profit. I had no idea what I was up against, I just knew I wanted to generate $100K per year off of my 23 acre sheep farm with a net profit minimum of 30%.
- no farming background.
- no industry connections.
- no land.
But what I did have was knowledge.
- Our food system is broken.
- Our farmers are dying.
- We need more people growing groceries.
And I knew how to market…
While I had never built a farm business, I had built and marketed several other business… mostly in the retail apparel industry.
So I shoved everything I knew from marketing shoes and clothes in the direction of marketing sheep:
Branding, content creation, email marketing, live launching, product stacking, and diversification.
It’s all I had, and gave it all I had.
1000 days after launching my farm business, it earned just shy of $100K within one calendar year.
- Youtube Ad Revenue
- Sponsorship deals
- Course sales
- Speaking fees
In a year by year format I am going to show you exactly how I built my farm brand and a concept that rapidly increased gross revenue. We are talking going from $10k to $100k within just a year. That $100k gross is split between three distinct products that fit within a similar category and all appeal to the same person.
What I am getting ready to outline transcends industries, so no matter what business you decide to build you will more than likely pull something out of this video.
I know this because the same methods I used to sell sheep were the same methods I used to sell shoes.
HOWEVER, while this pattern is simple (if you are like me)… the hard part of the whole process will be sticking with it and not quitting.
Year 1, I worked about 1000 hours to build my farm business and grossed about $0.
Year 2, I worked another 1000 hours to build my farm business and grossed about $10,000. That’s like a dollar an hour.
Year 3, I worked about 1000 hours on my farm business and grossed about $100K.
There were a lot of times I wanted to QUIT. It was very discouraging to work so hard without any immediate return.
If you are in it for money you will quit, because there are thousands of easier ways to make this kind of money. You have to farm for deeper reasons.
Here is a year by year look at the marketing that went into building the Shepherdess Brand:
I set a solid foundation. Mindset and otherwise.
- I decided I wanted to make $100k per year farming 23 acres, with a minimum net profit of $30k.
- Decided I was going direct to consumer. No sale barns, no middle man, whatever farm goods I sold would be sold through my own website or straight from my farm to you.
- I penciled out a business plan with beef. I couldn’t achieve a net profit of $30k with beef on 23 acres. Even with the fanciest beef I could only pencil out about $8,900 on 23 acres.
- I pivoted from beef to sheep as my primary enterprise. I still run beef, I still sell sides of grass fed and finished beef, but just in a much smaller ratio to sheep.
- I built my website (Shepherdess.com). I published 3 long-form, SEO optimized articles to the website that would rank in Google search.
- I setup a newsletter.
- Created a solid brand name, logo, and slogan.
I worked ahead of time to build my newsletter list with people who might be interested in buying my sheep.
By the beginning of year two my flock was lambing and I was almost ready to sell my first lambs. 6 months before launching my first sheep sale, I doubled down on building my newsletter list.
I used social media to find people for my newsletter. I chose Instagram and Youtube to find people for my newsletter. I chose Youtube because Youtube and Google are both search engines. I created videos with the goal of ranking in Youtube search engine in the same way that I wrote the blog posts. With my videos I answered specific questions about sheep farming.
In prep for my first livestock sale, I listed some small merch at shepherdess.com. My sheep weren’t ready yet, but I offered Gateway products: Stickers and shirts. I didn’t make a lot of money off these products, but it was a way that people could connect and purchase something small to support my work.
I held my first livestock sale at Shepherdess.com on August 11, 2021. I advertised my sheep through my newsletter and sold all of them through either Shepherdess.com or through Craigslist.
I did not make a ton of money in year 2 at all… but I had prototyped all of my ideas on a small scale and found viability.
I heard it said that when, starting a new business, the hardest money you will ever make is your first $1000. If you can survive that process, know that it won’t take much more effort to make $100k.
I have found that to be true.
Go big or go home.
My newsletter list was growing really strong around the topic of sheep farming. I hosted my 2nd livestock sale in April of 2022, marketed it through that email newsletter, and sold out of all my sheep at shepherdess.com within 15 minutes.
I was elated… And then I thought: “Wait, that’s all my sheep for the year… what else can I sell?”
There were two FAQ’s that came to me again and again.
1: What books did you read as a beginner in raising livestock on pasture?
2: What kind of supplies do you use to take care of your sheep?
So I took these questions as cues and put the 5 books I read as a beginner in livestock at Shepherdess.com.
And I worked super hard and acquired distributorship for the 32 products I use to take care of my flock on an annual basis. It was something I had never done before, but the Lord opened doors.
I made both of these things available a Shepherdess.com, and by God’s grace, revenue tripled overnight… Because I found more than one way to meet the needs of the people I had spent two years connecting with…. through my email newsletter.
And that is the secret sauce. Listen to the people. Take your mind off of what you want to sell and listen to what they want.
I hope this summary helps you market your own farm!
“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” 1 Cor. 3:7
great job way to show that you can do things the correct and ethical way and still be successful
Harmony Shepherdess says
Thanks for your encouragement, Mike!