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Increasing Assets

As business increases, you generally need more equipment/ assets to keep up with the expansion. If this is financed correctly, no further strain should be placed on your business or agriculture operations cash flow. To ensure all avenues have been addressed, it is best to discuss your needs with your financial advisor/ lender prior to signing any contracts.
Get to know your Customer

Market research is vital to succeeding in business. Who will need your product or service? Is there a demand for it? Once you've answered these questions, you need to establish how you're going to distribute, what price to charge and how you're going to promote your service or product. Marketing begins with customers' needs and you should design a strategy to fulfill those needs.

Marketing Budgets

It takes money to make money. Setting funds aside for marketing is an essential part of running a business, but how can you best put this money to use?

Keeping up on your target market can be time-consuming. It may be more cost-effective for you to hire someone to research the changing needs of your customers and watch what your competition is doing, allowing you to concentrate on running the business. If you don't keep up with current trends and keep your prices competitive, you may find yourself losing customers.

Advertising and Promotion

You need to decide how you will advertise and promote your product or service. What medium will you use to advertise? There are dozens of ways to inform potential customers about your business; you need to decide which is the most cost effective for you. Whether it's a local flyer mail-out or a national television ad, the important thing is to ask yourself if you will generate enough profit from the campaign to more than cover the costs. Some forms of advertising are relatively inexpensive, like something as simple as a sign on the sidewalk in front of your business or on the side of your vehicle.

Paid advertising isn't the only way to reach your market. You can promote your business in other ways: sponsor charity events, hold a contest, speak on the radio or at seminars. You can even keep a mailing list, and send Christmas cards to your customers.
Marketing Strategy

Your business is up and running. You've invested a lot of time and money to get your product or service just the way you want it. Now what? The first step is to find out which people will be buying your products. Who will be your customers? With this information, you will need to devise a plan that will physically get your products and services into the proper market.

Distribution Channels

Distribution channels are the paths products and services take to get from your business to your customers. These paths can be long and convoluted, involving wholesalers, distributors and retailers, or they can be as simple as selling directly to the public from your home. What method of distribution is right for you or your customers? How does your competition distribute? What can you afford? If other people or companies need to be involved in the distribution process, it's essential you communicate well and know the responsibilities of each part of the operation.

Distribution Resource Planning (DRP)

DRP is a matter of comparing your needs with the available resources. This includes looking at the possible use of extra manpower, hired transportation, warehousing and other factors. Will you need to lease a truck and hire a full-time driver, or will you need to contract a much larger fleet? Distribution resource planning will help you manage your inventory as well. You'll know exactly how much product you're shipping, where it's going, and when. The point is, whatever distribution method you choose, it must be reliable and safe for your product and your business, and it must be a method you can afford.

Getting Your Supplies

You never want to have operational downtime because you've run out of production supplies. To ensure this doesn't happen, you need dependable suppliers. Do your research and ask other businesses until you find a supplier with a solid record of filling client needs. Even if you do sign up with a supplier that meets your needs, it's still a good idea to keep an eye out for something better, to make sure your current supplier stays competitive. In some cases, businesses may expand into other lines if it is advantageous for them, rather than relying on a supplier.

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Up Next: Growing your business/ ag operation?

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