Here are some factors to consider if you are drawing up a beekeeping business plan, whether you wish to become a honey producer, or are wanting to offer a variety of products and services related to beekeeping, honey bees and hives. On the one hand, you may be able to earn a living from keeping bees, but like all businesses, there are potential pitfalls.
If you require a loan to help you get started, then you will need to demonstrate to the lender that you have thought about the business in detail. Consider things from the lender’s perspective: if you were in his or her shoes, would you loan money to this new beekeeping business based on the plan and information you are being presented with?
In addition, you need to work through the details yourself, so that you minimise your risks and have a genuine chance of success.
Below are some guidelines, and a link to a downloadable beekeeping business plan template (PDF).
It sounds obvious, but.....are you an experienced beekeeper?
If not, best get some experience first, and ensure you:
You may have a firm idea already of how beekeeping is going to earn an income for you. Whether you decide to focus only on being a honey producer business, or selling a wider range of product and services, you’ll need to estimate your potential earnings, and add these to your business plan. Here are some ideas of what your business might include:
Consider these costs:
You should calendarize these costs, and also add a realistic sales forecast as far as possible. Although you will need it to go along to the bank or lender, forecasting is of course very difficult, and may need to be adjusted from time to time.
How much, if you implement your marketing plan (we’ll get to that in a minute), could you sell on a monthly basis? Itemize each activity: how much honey will you sell, how many courses will you fill etc.
Financial challenges can hit any business.
Find out as much as you can about the market, products, services, prices, your customers, relevant law, prior to committing yourself.
Consider the following questions:
What are customers buying? (e.g. raw bee or hive products, or processed by you in some way? If so, are there any legal or labelling requirements or standards?)
What kind of equipment is needed and how much will it cost?
What are the wider range of products or services you are offering? For example, will you sell honey, pollination services, beekeeping courses at your apiary, books you have written yourself, wax, or will you begin selling beehives or other beekeeping equipment?
Who is buying it? (consumers, retailers, wholesalers)
Where will they get to buy the products? Internet? Shops? Market?
How will you persuade customers to buy and how will you generate awareness? How often will your customers purchase from you?
Why will anyone wish to buy from you? Don’t be offended by this question. This question is deliberately asked so that you think of things from your customer’s perspective.
When will customers purchase from you, and how does this impact your business? Do you have to warn customers in advance/how long do advanced booking periods need to be, and...
when will you be paid?
Having considered these questions, what actions need to be taken, when, by whom and at what cost?
It’s worth doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) for your beekeeping business plan, as with any other business plan.
Make a list, and decide whether there are actions you can take. Don’t run before you can walk, or over-stretch yourself, however.
Here are some examples:
Lifelong experience of beekeeping – generations of beekeepers in the family.
How To Maximise
Use this in marketing, to talk about a caring family business with generations of expertise. Customers are buying from people, not a faceless organisation.
Limited business experience – only ever provided a few jars of honey for friends.
How to Minimise
Enrol on a small business course or book keeping course, or check on line for
suitable courses. Check with the council
for free, helpful resources.
Free access to 100 acres of organic farm and meadowland
How to Exploit
(Depending on regulations in your country) Label the honey product ‘organic’ and sell in to speciality organic food stores and delicatessens, with appropriate pricing.
How to Counter
Keep bees and hives in good condition, and practice high standards of beekeeping husbandry.
Insure hives against losses due to diseases.
How will you manage the paperwork for paying taxes etc? If you need assistance, you'll need to factor in the cost of that assistance.
Remember to keep comprehensive records, and in good order. File receipts and paperwork. Take copies of crucial documents. Take back-up copies of any computer generated admin.
Have a visible calendar and/or diary to ensure to file any important paperwork on time, such as taxes and any legal documents, to avoid fines.
Hopefully you will be able to keep your set up and business running costs to a minimum.
You can use the free beekeeping business plan template to help you get started, but ensure that you add any legal considerations applicable to your own country. Download it here (opens a new window).
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