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Unlocking Your Businesses Potential

Posted: 16 April 2018

In this period of uncertainty, it can be hard to make strategic, big, long term business decisions.

But now, before Brexit actually takes place, might indeed be the right time to transform your business and create much needed additional income streams.

People often say that once you have gone through the mind-set transition, from “Farm” to “Rural Business”, you will see both profitability and cashflow improve.  Naturally this transition is most likely to coincide with a diversification away from straightforward agriculture.

Farm diversification could help unlock the real potential of your business and generate much needed additional income. With diversification, often comes employment opportunities, potentially for the next generation of rural entrepreneurs.

Farmers and rural people tend to be natural innovators coming up with unique solutions to local issues. These are great skills to have when considering and maximising your diversification opportunities.

Whilst diversification is not for everyone it can come in all shapes and sizes from adding value to products, selling  produced eggs or vegetables, to projects of a much larger scale, for example creating a camping site for the glamping fraternity.

The best diversifications stem from an interest or hobby of the farmer(s) or are projects which satisfy an evident demand. Whatever the project, turning it into a commercial reality can be a scary prospect. But talk to anyone who has gone through the process, and you will often find that these projects have given them a new lease of life and a new focus and passion for their overall business.  There is nothing more rewarding than hearing people’s passion and excitement as they talk about their successes.

Behind every good project there is a lot of planning, research and inevitably, there are highs and lows.  Approaching the project in a structured way is key to help develop from the initial robust plans, to realisation of the dream. 

The first step is often a review of the existing business, followed by a weigh up your options, and which will highlight any potential diversification opportunities.

There is currently funding available from the Scottish Government for eligible businesses to help with this process (businesses are funded up to the maximum of £1,000 per plan). This review takes the form of carrying out a detailed Integrated Land Management Plan which identifies opportunities and cost savings for your business.

The assessment generally includes:

  • A review of strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of your business.

  • a habitats, biodiversity and conservation review

  • financial performance analysis

  • a cross compliance assessment to highlight where there may be risk areas for the business

Once your ideas have been explored and developed you should consider your funding avenues.  Generally, this would involve a discussion with your bank initially although, depending on the nature of the project, you can also apply for European funding which is available for projects that involve adding value to farm businesses. For projects that relate to diversification out with Agriculture the LEADER programme can provide invaluable support. While funding is currently limited for diversification type projects, the Food Processing Marketing and Co-operation and LEADER Fund currently does offer funding opportunities toward projects that are innovative, interesting and new to the area.  The message is clear, take the future by the horns and act now!

Davidson & Robertson has considerable experience of acting on behalf of farming businesses and, with our national coverage, we are well placed to answer any queries or concerns you might have.  We have offices located at: Maud, Forfar, Edinburgh, Bathgate, Lanark, Castle Douglas, Ayr, Cockermouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed, where our rural consultants are focussed on adding value to our clients’ business interests.

 

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