“The business plan is a formal statement setting out the aims and objectives of your business. It assesses whether they are achievable and what your plans are for reaching them. It should also include some brief information about the organisation and the people involved as well as how income will be generated. Risks such as the weather, poor harvests, gluts and lack of markets should also be considered.” 1
Business planning is:
Before you start:
Before you start writing up your business plan you will need to estimate your crop figures and investments needed to operate. The CSA Network provide a very useful Horticultural Cropping Tool that will allow you to play around with crop numbers – this will help you figure out how much you will need to grow & how much land that equates to so you can cover your costs. It will also help you work out how many veg boxes and members you will need/ be able to provide:
Assumptions - you will need to think carefully about yield, price and borrowing needs & test things out. A risk and sensitivity analysis is essential to help prepare and mitigate against potential catastrophic impacts such as extreme weather conditions, price drops/increases, fertiliser crisis etc
Starting small is always the most sensible approach - increasing yield and membership yearly as appropriate to your situation. Covering start-up costs can be tricky but it’s a good place to start engaging with your potential members (and sharing risk). Crowdfunding or asking for donations towards specific items is not only a good way to get some start-up funding in place but also helps promote your CSA & build up membership. Normally CSA’s ask for membership costs 1 month in advance – this also gives you a month notice to find a new member if someone leaves.
The headings in the document can be used to form the main sections in a Business Plan. They can be changed or re-ordered to help the story and vision of your business to flow. They are there to stimulate thought and help you to ask questions of your vision & plans, to make sure that funders, staff and volunteers all understand the ambition of the project.
Download the document: Business Plan for Community Support Agriculture (CSA) Projects