NxLeveL for Agriculture EntrepreneursNxLeveL® for Agriculture Entrepreneurs

This course targets entrepreneurs who have started or are thinking about starting an agricultural venture that is not tied to large-scale, commodity-style production. The materials are specifically designed for individuals who are pursuing innovative ideas and enhanced marketing opportunities in agriculture. This 10–session course is usually delivered over 12 weeks.

Learning Objectives

Session One

  • Gain an understanding of the course curriculum and expectations
  • Learn about entrepreneurship and explore personal, family and business resources, knowledge and skills
  • Gain knowledge of the components of the NxLeveL Agricultural Business Plan
  • Understand and develop a mission statement, goals and objectives
  • Experience networking with class participants

Session Two

  • Understand the business planning process, and the internal and external uses of a formal business plan
  • Learn the components and structure of business plans
  • Learn why, when, how and where to do agricultural market research
  • Begin market research by identifying industry-specific, agricultural business and global resources
  • Network with other entrepreneurs and guest speaker

Session Three

  • Identify and select a legal structure for your business
  • Become aware of government regulations facing small business, and identify compliance resources
  • Research relevant regulations, and determine their impact and cost
  • Identify contracts and leases you will use and other contracts that may be important to the business later

Session Four

  • Understand the concept of managing human resources
  • Identify internal and external (outsourced) management team members and determine related expenses
  • Determine current and future employee needs and related expenses, and identify employee management issues
  • Identify business insurance, other risk management needs and associated expenses
  • Identify other operations controls needed to manage risk

Session Five

  • Understand marketing issues and their day-to-day impact on company profitability
  • Understand the necessity for market research and analysis
  • Describe your product/service, including: features and benefits, life cycle, seasonality and growth plans
  • Develop your customer profile(s) and analyze the competition
  • Learn how to use customer and competition profiles to analyze market potential
  • Examine preliminary production potential

Session Six

  • Understand the importance of brand image in marketing strategies
  • Learn what elements influence price and the price/quality relationship
  • Examine promotional tools and select the most effective mix for your business
  • Gain an understanding of distribution channels, and how placement strategies affect agricultural businesses

Session Seven

  • Gain an understanding of the basic uses of financial information
  • Understand how bookkeeping, record-keeping and accounting systems tie to the production of useful financial information
  • Examine the bookkeeping and record-keeping activities of your business and who controls them
  • Understand the importance of budgeting and the role of assumptions
  • Explore how budgets provide performance feedback for the business
  • Prepare budgets, including the Fixed Assets Acquisitions Budget, Growth (or Start-up) Expenses Budget, Sales and Operating Expenses Budgets and Cash Flow Projection
  • Understand the usefulness of a Sensitivity Analysis

Session Eight

  • Explore ways of managing the cash flow cycle
  • Understand internal operations controls relating to cash management
  • Review the content and purpose of an Income Statement and Balance Sheet
  • Learn tools used for financial statement analysis

Session Nine

  • Understand the difference between debt and equity financing
  • Gain information about different conventional and non-traditional sources of financing
  • Examine realistic options and barriers for financing agricultural businesses

Session 10

  • Discuss negotiating in the business world
  • Examine reasons for growing your business
  • Recognize the pitfalls of unmanaged growth, and gain an understanding of managed growth
  • Explore estate planning, succession issues and exit strategies
  • Evaluate your NxLeveL learning experience