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8 Battle Tested Steps To Make Your Small Farm To Pay For Itself

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It is sssssooo important that you build a farm business to fund the small-scale farming lifestyle you want. Why? Because the feeling you have when you can pay for feed without guilt knowing that your animals paid for themselves is so empowering.

farming lifestyle view of an open field with a pond below

True farms should not be a money pit. A farm is a production business. If you are not getting anything out of the animals you raise or your crops are low and they just go to waste those are hobbies or pets.

I know there is someone a liiiiiittle bit skeptical about building a hobby farm business or creating some form of income around your farm life. Let me prove to you how easy it can be to spend more money than you realize.

Free Backyard Farm Profit Calculator

Go from broke to thriving in your backyard farm. Figure out how much your farm needs to make to cover costs OR become a side hustle.

Comparison Is REAL Even For Small Farmers

It is so easy to bring in a few chickens here and a few more there. Then you see this goat that’s so cute! Then Sally Jane over here is having a garden that is big enough to hide your house in so you start gardening as well. 

tomato plants in a garden with steaks in the ground all part of the farming lifestyle

Then you see that “everyone” has a livestock guard dog so you must need one too. Because you don’t get the legit farming status card unless you have one. Ok, maybe I am being a bit dramatic.

But before you know it you are several hundred dollars in and you have regular monthly expenses that you hadn’t planned on.

How Much It Costs To Feed One Chicken Per Year

One chicken will cost you $36 a year to keep. This may not sound like much until you start having a flock that is 20 or 30 Birds large.

If you have a flock that has 30 chickens in it we’re talking $1,000 a year or $100 a month just in chickens. Are you sweating yet? 

Um Hum, thought so.

text graphic showing how much it costs to keep a chicken per year if you have chickens in your farming lifestyle

Never mind spending $30 to $50 a month on dog food, and another $20 a month for goat feed. Not counting the supplies for gardening and project supplies that you need for repairs, you are already at $170. That’s a lot of money for something that may or may not give you any return on investment. 

Do you see why it’s important to build some kind of income even if it’s as simple as selling eggs to neighbors?

How Are You Going To Build A Farm Business

There are essential factors that you will want to consider if you want to build a farm business that gives you time freedom and supports your hobby farm lifestyle. It might sound like you have to give up all your free time to run a farming business but I promise you that is not the case.

Instead, you can build a business around your farming lifestyle that provides enough income to do the things that are important to you.

Summer is extremely busy for us farmers and if you choose to set the business side up so it can operate without you for the most part you can. You just have to be intentional with your time. 

laptop on a desk with a planner beside it

ports your small-scale farming lifestyle, why wouldn’t you? Your options are incredible today due to fast internet connections and technology. And people are becoming more and more used to the idea of using technology to do almost anything.

Family farms can now make money in ways that were not possible just a few decades ago.

Determine The Farming Lifestyle You Want to Live

Take some time to figure out what you really want out of life. Try to get out of your comfort zone so that you can truly imagine all the possibilities. 

Do you want your farm to pay for itself? Or maybe you want your farm to be able to pay for your family vacation.

This is more my speed. Maybe you just want to be able to buy your favorite pair of jeans and a new pair of boots when you need them and not feel guilty for spending money on yourself. Or maybe you want to decorate your home the way you like it and not have to settle for home deocre that is “ok” but not great.

coffee cup, plant, and farm fresh eggs on the counter top

Don’t forget to think of the time aspect as well. If you love to travel then farming may not be the best choice. Especially if you go in the summer months. Or you will have to choose things that don’t require your attention in the summer

Do you want to be there for your children as they grow, you need a farming business that allows for that. 

There is no right or wrong answer. It is, after all, your life.  Your reason for building up our farm business does not have to be extravagant.

Create A Farm Business Around What You Care About

One way to cultivate a farming lifestyle that you love is to focus on the things you are passionate about. What is something you really love? Who are the people you would like to help? 

What skills do you already have to support that, and what skills are you willing to learn to support that idea?

Now maybe you are like me and you really loved just raising your animals. It can feel really hard to find something that is a problem that other people have, and also figure out WHO needs the solution. 

three french lop rabbits sitting on a tub showing off our farming lifestyle

You just want to get into food production, raise your animals, grow your crops, and get paid to do it right?

But I want you to think about something. What’s something that is so important to you that gets you fired up when you see people “getting it wrong”. What do you see that others do and you just shake your head? Do you have a certain method of doing things? Or something important for their success but people are ignoring? What about the market as a whole. Is there a misconception about your niche that people just get wrong?

Can you teach them your way of doing things? Or can you present it in a way that matters to other people? THAT is your business idea. That is how you help people and stand out above the crowd.

Brainstorm Farm Business Ideas That Support Your Farming Lifestyle

Combining your dream small-scale farming lifestyle with what people need will help you find the ideal farm business start-up idea for you. 

If you already have a farm business idea, that’s okay, but remember that you may have to change some of your ideas and plans as you go. No one’s business looks anything like they thought it would in the beginning. Marketing platforms change and even the way humans are used to doing things changes. We as business owners have to adapt to that.

I never thought I would be teaching others how to build an income from their farms, creating Ebooks, and online courses. I was just a 17-year-old raising her french lops wanting to make her love of animals pay for itself. 

Keep an idea notebook (a multiple subject notebook like this with tabs is great to help keep it organized) or a section in your notes app on your phone to keep track of all the ideas that you come up with. Your ideas rarely come when you’re sitting down with a notebook trying to come up with fresh new thoughts and plans for your farm business.

They most often will come when you’re driving down the road or doing chores and a brilliant thought will pop into your mind.

rabbit nest boxes are a part of my farming lifestyle chores

Research Your Ideas 

From your brainstorming, you may have come up with a few ideas. Make sure you research them. You need to know fundamentally what is required to produce the deliverables. As well as making sure thats what people want. <– That is key!

If you can get an idea of what the farming lifestyle is like of someone who does the business you want to start, it will help you know if this is a good idea for you or not. Youtube is a great place to look for vlog-style videos of your dream farming lifestyle or business.

To start researching your farm business ideas I want you to take your top three to five ideas and wright each one on their own piece of paper. Now you are going to research each idea on its own and find out as much as you can about it.

  • You need to look for what tools that you might need to purchase or subscribe to in order to set up your business.
  • You also need to look at the potential income that you could build around your farm business.
  • How much space is ideal. Whether that is a building for processing or land space to grow or raise whatever that thing is.
pumpkin plant in a garden

How Much Can You Sell Your Product For?

I talk to my students about this in the Profitable Rabbitry Playbook all the time about researching how much the average rabbit sells for in their area. Because believe it or not a rabbit breed does not go for the same price everywhere.

Example #1 Location Matters

The average French Lop sells from $150 to as much as $250 here on the East Coast. But I had someone leave a comment on my YouTube channel saying that they are about $600 where they live out west? 😲Largely because French Lops are almost non-existent out there. They are not easy to find here either but even less so out west. 

I am using rabbits as an example because that is what I know and I can give good examples about it so bear with me. Let me use another breed as an example that is also very popular. 

money, phone, and sticky notes showing someone running a farm business

Example #2 Buyer Inention

The New Zealand rabbit are those white rabbits with the red eyes that most people think of when they think of a meat rabbit. They do come in a few other colors but largely they are white with red eyes. 

That breed can be sold for as low as $10 to $15 at a County Fair after the shows are over. And I have also seen a very good show-quality Buck be sold at auction at a rabbit convention for as much as $7,000. The difference was the “audience” or buyer making the purchase, the way it was presented, and the confirmation of the animal. 

Example #3 Selling Eggs

All right 1 final example about checking into how much your product could sell for. Using chicken eggs as an example. 

This is something that is largely dependent on your location and the ideal seller that you have access to. I want you to go to your local food market website or app. Look at all the different types of eggs that they sell what do you notice? 

What is the difference between the lower-priced $2 to $3 dozen eggs versus the high-end version. The Kroger store has eggs that are as much as $8 a dozen! Those eggs are Heritage breed, they are brown and blue in color, and I believe they were also free-range or cage-free or something like that. 

But the point is they had special verbage that they used to present those eggs in a way that appeared valuable to a particular buyer.

This is where you have to take into consideration the person who’s going to buy from you. And your location will affect that. 

If you live way out in the country where no one who lives in a larger city passes by your road, or you don’t have access to something like a farmer’s market where “city people” go to buy produce. You’re going to have a hard time selling a $5 or $8 dozen of eggs. 

Most likely everyone and their brother raise chickens so the demand is not that high. And to be honest, chickens are all that special to those people. They are just a fact of life and almost everyone has them.

Remember the $8 dozen eggs I told you about in the Kroger App? Well, Kroger as a company may sell them but they are not at our local Kroger store. Do you know why? Because people around where I live would laugh and keep walking.

So do you see how important researching your market is? 

You have to decide what your goal is, and how you want to present yourself as a whole.  BUT you also have to know the type of buyer you have access to.

Are you going to invest in good quality animals and work your way up to owning the best heard around? Or are you happy with selling mediocre animals and just getting your expenses covered?

The choice is up to you and there isn’t a wrong answer but you have to know what the market will pay you and the level at which you would have to reach to get that amount.

I hope I’m making sense here. The long and short of it is that you have to know what the market will pay you not what you want to get.

Create a Farm Business Plan 

 I hesitate to use the word business plan because that can sound a little scary or too big to apply to a “small farmer”. So I want to simplify it for you.

 A business plan is simply how you plan to make income. That’s really it. A farm business plan can be as simple or as complicated as you want personally I feel like you should keep it simple and to the point so it’s easy for you to stick to and see what your end goals are.

Once you have your business idea, even a one-page plan can help you get organized. 

Don’t overthink it. Grow into your business plan. Eventually, it can cover these things listed below.

Include: 

  • Your value proposition
  • Your solution
  • The competition
  • Your target market
  • Your sales and marketing plans
  • Your budget and sales goals
  • Milestones you plan to experience
  • and any funding needs should all be covered in your plan. 

Creating a business plan can make you feel like everything is set in stone but truthfully it needs to be fluid.

Do you see why I don’t want you to start with this? That huge list is extremely intimidating and you won’t be able to answer any of those things until you get some time under your belt and start figuring out the business world. 

Automate, Systemize, And Find The Right Tools For Your Farming Lifestyle

Once you know what has to be done to create the product, perform the service, and your business marketing. 

You will need to start automating, designing systems, and outsourcing one you get comfortable with your farming business. If you want to scare to bring more income you can’t do it all by yourself. Eventualy you need to be come the manager of your business instead of the worker in your farming business. 

Don’t let the outsourcing part scare you because it drives me crazy when people pound the table with outsourcing and hiring other people to do the work for you. When you are ready you will know.

Automating is something that goes alongside batching. In other words, you create a large chunk of content like emails, social posts, videos or blog posts then schedule them in the appropriate places to go out at a particular time. You don’t hit publish right then and there. This helps you get in the zone and you will get each task done much faster than switching back and forth between tasks.

Repurposing Content

There used to be days when people would use tools to publish one post from Instagram and push it out to all other social platforms. Let me tell you that will come back to bite you in the butt. 

Platforms do not like to feel ignored. And they don’t like it when people put a piece of content that is formatted for another platform onto their own. If it doesn’t come out looking native to the platform don’t publish it. 

Don’t put videos that have a Tik-Tok logo onto Instagram. Don’t take your YouTube videos that have subscribe buttons and other images that are relative to YouTube and put them on Facebook. 

Take the time to make two copies of your video. You can plan your work day so that all you have to do is save two different copies so you’re not editing the same video twice. 

All it takes is planning and being strategic with your time. That is going to do more for you in the long run rather than trying to cut corners.

stack of wood which is a big part of the farming lifestyle

Starting your own farm business doesn’t have to be complicated. But it will be hard work. 

The key to success is to be realistic about what you like doing, what you really can do, and what needs to be done to see your dream come true. 

Maybe at first, you will have to devote 20 plus hours a week doing all the work yourself, but eventually, if you plan well, automate, systemize, and outsource strategically, you will succeed in running a farm business – a business that practically runs itself so that you can live the farming lifestyle you really want.

Is your backyard farm costing way more than you thought?

If you are tired of your backyard farm literally eating away at all your extra cash, check out the Productive and Profitable Backyard Farmer’s Club.

Learn how to turn your money-sucking hobby into a profitable business with my monthly lessons that ONLY take you 45 minutes a month to listen to and implement.

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