There comes a time in the process of starting a farm business when you’ll likely benefit from some expert advice. Advisors can serve as a sounding board for the ideas you have bouncing around inside your head, scribbled on scratch paper, or documented in a Lean Canvas.
When this time comes, there are organizations in Wisconsin specifically devoted to helping farm and food-related businesses get started and grow.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Division Extension
Contacting your county’s Extension agriculture educator is a great place to start when exploring your farm business ideas. Extension educators can provide insights on the local “lay of the land” when it comes to farming and food. They can connect you with data, research, educational opportunities/trainings, and specialists working in specific content areas. Extension educators can also help farmers plug into local, regional, and statewide farm and business networks.
The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Once you have identified a potential business idea, or a few ideas, reaching out to your local SBDC is a natural next step. SBDC is one of five programs under the University of Wisconsin System’s Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship.
Accessible at 13 locations across Wisconsin, SDBC advisors can assist with business startup and growth at no-cost to entrepreneurs and business owners. SBDC’s Farm Business Initiative partners with Wisconsin’s Food Finance Institute to provide training and consulting geared toward farm entrepreneurs. Prepare yourself to connect with SBDC by getting your ideas on paper – completing a Lean Canvas can help you make the most of your time with an advisor.
Food Finance Institute (FFI) and the Edible-Alpha® Learning Center
Wisconsin’s Food Finance Institute, another arm of the Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship, specializes in helping existing farm and food businesses grow and find financing. FFI can also be a great starting point for a beginning farm business to find resources, training, and consulting to help them start up and finance their business. FFI can connect you with several farm-focused resources, including specially trained consultants and farm financial boot-camps.
Visit the Edible-Alpha® Learning Center to search for resources designed to help you grow a profitable farm business. Listen to the Edible-Alpha® Podcast for actionable and inspiring insights from farm and food entrepreneurs and industry stakeholders.