What is Agricultural Business?

As the world expands in population size, food demands are high. What was previously a normal farm’s production rate doesn’t just feed the same amount of people now or there are still others that are hungry. This created the need for effective means in planting crops and yielding the most results in various planting conditions.

When the demand grew, a lot of people saw this as a business opportunity. However, conventional methods for growing crops were just not enough. The agricultural business course aims to answer these needs. If you’re thinking of taking this course or if you’re simply wondering, here are the things that you should know about the agricultural business course and their sample projects.

Study Coverage

To cover the need for both agricultural and business needs, students study various subjects. On the business side, subjects include finance, business management including the technical areas involved in agricultural production systems. Students also develop their critical thinking, leadership, and communication skills.

For the agricultural side, students study soil science, property planning, pasture and crop production and management. At this point, students can choose to specialize in agribusiness management or agricultural production.

Career Options

For an agricultural business graduate, there are a lot of career paths that are directly related to or where their degrees can be used. Listed below are some of the common career options though there are still many more.

Agricultural consultant

As a consultant, you will be required to use problem-solving skills for your client’s business. Since your client’s business is related to agriculture, you will offer solutions and support to make sure that their farm is operating as effectively and efficiently as possible. Agricultural consultants typically have two options available for them depending on their specialization:

  • Business consultant – this covers the management of personnel, business planning, and giving advice on financial management for farms or businesses related to agriculture.
  • Technical consultant – this option focuses on livestock and crop maintenance, waste management and environmental conservation.

Farm Manager

For someone who has studied how to manage crops and livestock while maintaining a business, it makes perfect sense to work as a farm manager. Farm managers are responsible for raising animals, taking care of crops, creating strategies to maximize yield, managing staff, and organizing associated businesses. This involves technical and practical knowledge regarding agriculture and business, including being able to make business decisions. In addition, farm managers need to be knowledgeable about the safety regulations set forth by the government.

Soil Scientist

Soil is a very important renewable and natural resource. Soil is important in food production, supporting animal and plant life, and also in providing a foundation for buildings and infrastructures all over the world. Soil science covers a lot of scientific disciplines so soil scientists can work in a wide range of professional areas.

For the functions, a soil scientist interprets, gathers, and evaluates data from the soil. This data will be used in agricultural production, human health, environmental quality, biodiversity, and climate change.

Animal Nutritionist

Animal nutritionists are found mostly in agriculture. They provide information and advice on animal nutrition including the evaluation of animals in an area and designing new diets for them. In line with this, animal nutritionists work in areas related to the production of food for pets or companion animals, for zoos, and also give advice related to feeding them. Overall, animal nutritionists work to promote correct understanding on the effect of diet on animals’ wellbeing, productivity, and health.

Field Trials Officer

When a laboratory involves research in plants in the field or laboratory, field trials officers are employed. They may be involved with overseeing a particular phase in the research procedure or they may be involved in the entire research process.

Specific duties of a field trials officer would depend on the research and they work closely with the scientists. They have to ensure that the research conditions are similar to real world scenarios. In some cases, a field trials officer is also required to make presentations regarding research conditions and findings.

Sample Projects

In agricultural business, there are a lot of business opportunities. Some projects may range from those requiring sponsors or those that can be done in the backyard. Some examples for these projects are:

Urban Agriculture

As the name suggests, this involves the cultivation, distribution and processing of food within a town or a city. Urban agriculture is being viewed as an answer to food shortage. This eliminates the need to transport food from farms to cities, and also provides fresh, quality food.

Rabbit Rearing

The reason why this is so specific is because there are no laws that prohibit keeping of rabbits in towns and cities. It’s possible to raise rabbits in the backyard for them to serve as an alternative food source and for additional income. It’s not difficult to raise rabbits since they can survive on kitchen scraps or cut grasses. Lastly, rabbit rearing does not involve much investment capital.

Fish Farming

As more and more people are becoming health conscious, they are turning to fish for their protein needs. If you put your structures in the right place, you can make a huge profit. Equipments are not that difficult to find, all you need is ample space, fish tanks (you can buy or construct these), fish, and fish feed. This is a feasible business option since you can buy fish cheap and sell them depending on their weight and size. You also have the option to choose the fish breed, depending on the demands in your area.

Herbs and Flowers Gardening

Although this business option requires a huge space, the capital isn’t that big as well. Agricultural business graduates can easily do this project and they can put their knowledge to good use. Raising herbs and plants for reselling to large outlets or to consumers is a very good business nowadays. These can be used for cooking, making medicines, or simply for gardening. It’s very easy to buy herb and plant seeds in packets for less than a dollar. When they are sold, the profit will be 10 or 20 times more. This is why the more plants there is, the bigger chance for profit.

If you’re still wondering what is agricultural business and if it’s good for you then the answer to that is that it’s a very good course choice. There are a lot of career options for agricultural business graduates. They are able to work in a wide range of jobs that may or may not be directly related to their courses. In addition, the shortage of managers or researchers in the agricultural sector ensures that there will always be jobs waiting for them when they graduate. Plus, agricultural business also ensures that people and animals are getting proper nutrition. They also take care of the environment, making them a valuable resource all over the world.

How to Start an Online Business

A lot of new entrepreneurs are turning to the internet for opening their own business. It’s a very smart move, with people being connected to the internet a lot of times during the day. People commonly use the internet for connecting with people, using social networking sites, leisure, and also online shopping.

Online shopping is one of the fastest growing uses of the internet. Previously people didn’t know what it was and if it was secure. There is always that fear of using credit cards over the internet and if the product is of good quality or not. With the advancement in technology, shopping online is now easier and faster than before. This is why it makes good business sense to start an online store now. Though it’s considerably easier and inexpensive compared to opening your own shop, there are still factors that can ruin your business. Here’s a list of some dos and don’ts when you want to open an online business.

Market before Product

A lot of online businesses fail because aspiring entrepreneurs think they have a marketable product, then immediately go online. This is a bad idea because you’re not even sure if it will sell or not, and reaching your target audience can be a long process. What you need to do instead is to check what people currently need, then develop or customize your product according to that need. This will easily draw customers to your business and growth will come naturally.

Good areas for research are your competitors themselves. You can visit their stores, see what they sell and also observe how they sell it. For example, if you’re planning to import electronic goods from a cheaper source, you can check online stores in your area that also do the same thing. You can check their prices, what their promotions are and how they go about in delivery or selling the product. Of course you won’t copy their style down to the letter, but it’s a good basis for your future business.

Avoid Prolonging Too Much

Every time you start a business (offline or online), planning is very important. It might take a long time before your business plan will take shape. However don’t make the common mistake of waiting too long before you start your business. A lot of business plans don’t even start because people wait for “signs” or specific numbers before they begin. People wait when they get 1,000 subscribers or 10,000 followers before they begin their business. When this does happen, it might be too late and your idea will already be taken.

This is a common fatal mistake people make – creating and launching a product. The sooner you address this issue, the sooner your business can take off. If it does fail, then you will gain valuable lessons for your future products or launches. Success doesn’t always come the first time, but that doesn’t mean you should only try once.

Listen to Customer Feedback

You know in business there’s a saying “the customer is always right”. This doesn’t mean that each time your customer demands a full refund you give it to them. This simply means that what they think about the product is important and you should take note of it. After all, they are your market and they will be the ones that will use your product.

Online businesses have the advantage of keeping in touch with customers easily. You can interact with customers in your own website or on social networking sites. It’s important that you don’t just respond to customers who only give you positive feedback. Customers that demand refunds or buy your product but return them are the ones that you should pay close attention to, so that it won’t happen again in the future.

Strive to Be Different

Another mistake that online business entrepreneurs make is to mimic what successful online businesses do. It’s very easy to be swayed by the idea that since it worked for them, it will also work for you. To further this question, you also need to ask yourself what makes you different from these successful online businesses. When a customer visits your site and sees that your content or product is similar to another popular site, they won’t bother to stay long on your page – they can visit the popular store with a few clicks.

With that in mind, you need to make a potential customer stay longer on your site. Remember when we said that you’ll simply use these bigger sites as your inspiration, this is where it matters now. You need to use them as a template and then create your own unique business. It might be how you deliver your products or the kinds of promotions you offer, but it should be different and enticing to customers out there.

Find Your Passion

If you’re going to make an online business, you’ll be spending a lot of time on it. During the first few stages, you might be the only employee working on it. You need to have extensive knowledge about your product so that you can easily make corrections or improvements. Once your business will also start growing, you won’t mind putting in extra hours since it’s something that you enjoy doing. Don’t follow a fad simply because it’s popular. You can focus on fads, but use your own skills to develop something creative which is related to your hobbies or interests.

No Shortcuts

Starting an online business is similar to an offline business. It starts small and you take it from there. There’s no quick formula to be successful within a few weeks or months. Realizing this and accepting your expectations can help you stick to it through the rough times and be more patient.

This is why planning is very important for all types of businesses. You need to ask yourself if this kind of business is worth doing even if it takes years. If you think it’s not worth your time and money, then you don’t need to start it.

Have Business Associates

Another disadvantage for online business is that it can be very easy to quit everything. With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can erase your online store and everything connected with it. There will be times (especially when times are rough) when quitting seems to be the logical solution. During these moments, having business associates or partners to support you will be very useful. Friends who also share the same goals and interests like you will be valuable support systems in your projects. It’s a good idea to have them in your business. No one can start a business alone, even an online one.

There is no specific formula for being successful in any kind of business. These tips for starting an online business are geared towards preparing your mental fortitude before you even begin one. As long as you create a unique product which satisfies a demand, and you continue with this plan, then you’ll be a successful online entrepreneur.

Common Mistakes Businesses Make

Starting your own business can be an exciting challenge. You’ll be on your own to learn what to do and what not to do in your own business. You’ll also be fully in control about the direction your business will take and whether you will continue it or not. However, calling all the shots can also mean a lot of responsibilities in your hands. If you make a small mistake, it could cost you dearly. Have too many mistakes and you could run your business into the ground.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you’ve already set up your business then you should focus more on growth and maintaining your current success. It can be difficult and time-consuming especially with a large company to handle. Whether you’re operating a small business or a large company, here are some things you should consider to keep your business afloat.

Selling Products Dirt Cheap

A lot of small businesses never make it big because they’re stuck at the bottom of the barrel no matter how many customers they are able to get. It might sound strange, since more customers would mean more revenue and thus, more room for growth. However in this unhealthy scenario, the more customers and the more revenue these small businesses get, their expenses almost always catch up. This leaves very little left for income and thus expansion is out of the question.

A deeper reason for this factor is because these owners didn’t know the value of their product. Yes, their product was sold very well and it drew in a lot of customers. But they still sold their product at a lower value than its market worth. This is why it has difficulty generating income enough for growth even if it is sold well.

To avoid this trap, know your product’s value before you even open your shop. This will allow you to sell it at a reasonable price while covering production costs. Once your customers start pouring in, you can slowly expand while increasing your price. Customers will be able to see your expansion and therefore understand your price increase. Sooner or later, the income your product generates will be enough to cover production and expansion costs.

Focusing on One Thing Only

When planning your business, it’s always a good idea to focus on only one area where you’re good at and start from there. As soon as you open shop and meet regular customers or sponsors though, you need to manage a lot of responsibilities. It’s not enough to simply provide what they need and then end your relationship there. You need to maintain their interest and keep them coming back for better products or upgrades. You can do this by keeping your past and potential customers updated through your newsletters, social network profiles, or other means.

If you do provide them with updates, don’t make your newsletter come off as a giant advertisement. Make it worth reading. You could add useful information or facts about your industry. This way you’ll establish yourself as an authority in this field and when customers will indeed buy, it’ll be from your shop. In short, learn to juggle marketing and sales.

Forgetting Customer Care

Decades ago, people looked up to big companies with respect. If a company had a big office and multiple branches, it seemed very reliable and thus drew in customers. With the change in times, people are now looking at businesses that think and act like small businesses. What this means is that customers are not only looking at the sale, but they’re also looking at after care.

This is because big companies are too focused on their sales or products that they don’t bother taking care of customers’ opinions or complaints. On the other hand, small businesses do their tasks on a personal level. If customers complain, it reaches to the top tier quickly and can be acted upon as soon as possible. Since there are lots of portals for communicating with your customers, it’s not that hard. Just get in touch with customers on a personal level even if you’re already a big company.

Not Learning Basic Accounting

Another thing that makes life difficult for small business owners is not knowing when they’re about to lose money or if they’re already losing money. They simply focus on making enough to pay off employees, rent, utilities and supplies. Though these are important, you should focus also on income and savings for the future. You can do this by teaching yourself how to read a cash flow statement. In simple terms, knowing how much you make and where it’s going will help you protect your business from going under.

Putting off Tax Planning

Taxes can be very confusing to almost everyone out there. Even for workers who only have their salaries to worry about, they have a hard time computing how much they need to pay. In the case of business owners, this can become expensive and risky. A lot of small business owners think about taxes only after a tax year. By this time receipts will be difficult to trace, ledgers are cluttered with figures, and savings are lost in the process.

Planning for tax regulations is an important part of the planning process. However, it can also be done during or even before the tax year. This will ensure a smoother process when paying your taxes and you might even save when it comes to your tax payments. Keep in mind that there are multiple ways out there to minimize the taxes you need to pay. If you’re unfamiliar with this topic, consulting an accountant will be in your favor.

Underestimating Employee Importance

For business owners, ensuring if a business runs smoothly can take a lot of energy. This is why a lot of them don’t think that taking care of employees is that important. After all, a lot of people are looking for jobs out there. Once your current employees are dissatisfied and quit, it’s easy to replace them, right?

This is a very wrong and potentially fatal mistake for every business out there (big or small). Employees are the lifeblood of the business since their work brings money into your account and allows you to enjoy your current privileges. Sure, there are a lot of people who can replace your current employees, but it will cost you. This means that these new employees have to learn about the process again and their skills are not that efficient compared to a seasoned veteran in the business.

If you don’t know where to start in keeping employees happy and satisfied in their job, you can start by creating a rewards system. It can be based on your company’s metrics. If an employee passes his/her metrics consistently, then be sure to reward them or give recognition. Not only will it keep your employees happy, it will also motivate them to work harder.

Now that you’re aware about the common mistakes businesses make, it’s time to reflect on your own business or company. Try to check if you’re doing any of these without realizing it. Oftentimes these mistakes are part of our bad habits and can be difficult to detect or change. However recognizing it will be the first step to change and improving your business.