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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Analysing your assets

...Your abilities

...Your space

...Livestock or jam?

...Your work pattern

...Your environment

...Your selling skills

>..Your marketplace

...Your packaging

...Your books

When you produce a specialist product you want it to reach the market for which it is intended and it is worth taking a lot of trouble to make sure that it does.

Many retailers enjoy buying from 'the chap who makes it'. We produce a wholegrain mustard and however many different people we have used to sell it, it is always when we go out ourselves that the sales go up. It is natural after all. We can comment on how it is made and it means that the shopkeeper can tell his customers that it is a special product that came straight from the mixing bowl to the jar to the shop. This is another piece of essential self-analysis before you choose an enterprise. If you simply cannot bear the thought of going out and selling your produce yourself, then choose something which has an established market. Sheep, cattle and pigs can be sold through a local market and you do not have to be there at all. With more involved produce such as cheese and fudges, someone must actually sell it for you. Advertising for salesmen for this kind of small-scale project is a nightmare. Very few people want to start up an operation. Established delivery rounds are quite a different matter. .

We have tried agents who actually advertised for small lines but unfortunately most of them hang on to your stock for ages and certainly do not put much effort into selling it. If you are lucky you may have a friend who is the ideal person, in which case approach him before you produce anything, then if he says 'no' - at least you are not left to eat half a ton of fudge yourselves! Quite often you have potential customers all around you. If you work in an office or have family and friends that do, this can be an excellent source of business. We sold pork joints to a factory for years. It became a routine on the last Friday of every month that legs and loins and the occasional half-pig were avidly disposed of. Unfortunately that factory is now closed but if you can find a contact like that, you do not have to go out looking for the business, it comes to you.

Farm gate sales are another way that people come to you to buy. With a delightful property in the country, on a busy road, a nicely worded sign will have you instantly in business. If the road is busy enough you can even dispense with the delightful property; if the property is delightful enough people will beat a path to your door if you encourage them enough. In a suburban setting you may have the planning officials beating a path to your door if the whole approach is too enthusiastic. At least in suburbia and in town you do not have to go so far to find potential customers..