Entrepreneurial tour brought farm families together

A recent two-day entrepreneurial farm tour featured 14 farms or food-related businesses. Many share common traits that enable them to be successful even though each one has its own unique story.

Participants on a two-day entrepreneurial farm tour to southeast Michigan on August 31 and September 1 saw it all. Highlighted on the tour were a milking sheep herd, corn chip processing, fresh salsa processing, agri-entertainment, an artisan bakery and flour mill, specialty seed processing , large and small scale vegetable production, the potential for farming in Detroit, a fruit orchard, farm markets, and more.

Although each farm or business that was visited told a unique story of their entrepreneurial journey, the participants heard common words of wisdom. A few key words included people, quality, niche, adjustment and faith.

People are the core of all businesses. Employees need to be nurtured, respected and rewarded. Customers and suppliers deserve fair and honest treatment. Friends and family are a vital support team. People networks provide priceless contacts. Advisors give wisdom. Partners fill in the gaps where you are weak. The bottom line is that it is difficult to run a business all alone.

Quality brings the customer back. Find out what customers need and supply a quality product to them. The trend today is healthy, local, good tasting food. It is important to find a niche that you have a passion for and can excel at. Niches allow space for small, startup ventures to be able to compete and survive in markets dominated by big established players.

Change is a given. Each of these farms or businesses make adjustments to their products or services as needed to maintain or attract their targeted customers. One commented that without adding agri-entertainment, the farm and farm store would be out of business.

A number of the host entrepreneurs have had to deal with deaths of family members or a loss of a previous business. Their faith provided strength for them to get redirected and persevere.

This tour featuring folks with an entrepreneurial spirit was very motivational. You can start new food-related ventures and be successful. These operations are a testimony that it is possible.

Do you have an idea you want to explore to add more profit to your farm operation? Whether you want to add value, a new enterprise, or expand what you are already doing, take note that the MSU Product Center has innovation counselors that are trained and available to assist you to get started. To start the process, go to the MSU Product Center website and fill out an application for assistance, or call any of the staff or counselors that are listed there. You can call the MSU Product Center directly at 517-432-8750.

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