Your Road Map to Success

During the American Emu Association’s (AEA) annual convention last summer in Vancouver, Washington, long-time emu farmers JoAnna Stinar and Joylene Reavis spoke about why a business plan is important and how to create one.

Having a business plan defines your business, sets goals, and maps out how to achieve those goals, Stinar said. If you need financial assistance to start up your business, your banker will need one, and the IRS will require one, too, Reavis added.

“A business plan is a living, breathing document that changes frequently,” Stinar said, so you should update it as needed. “Plans that looked like they could work several months ago may no longer be viable next year. As circumstances change, so will your business plan.”

She added that many emu farmers who have been in the business for more than 20 years have re-written their business plans two or three times since they started.

Making a Business Plan

As aforementioned, a business plan serves as your road map for successfully running your business, Reavis said. She said it gives you direction, provides you with a goal (or goals) and the ways to get there, and does it efficiently.

The first step to writing a business plan is defining what you want to do with your business. Will you be breeding emus? Selling chicks? Creating emu oil? Making emu products?

Once you’ve determined what you want to do, set goals to make your business happen. (Learn how to set SMART goals by purchasing the spring issue of Emu Today & Tomorrow.) Detail how you will achieve what you want to do. Long-term goals can include expanding your production, increasing marketing, widening your customer base, or looking into new ways to create more income.

Stinar suggests writing your goals down in a notebook or on the computer separate from your actual business plan. “You’ll be putting numbers in for record keeping and making notes. That way you can measure if your idea a good one or not,” she said. “Do you need to modify it or throw it out the window and do something else?”

The final step is mapping out your business plan. Using your ideas of what you want to do and the goals to get there, create a road map of how you will start, run, maintain, and grow your business.

Mapping It Out

Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends drafting your business plan with these sections:

  • Executive summary—a brief overview of your business plan including your company’s profile, mission statement, products and services, strengths, goals, and anything else that would grab a potential investor’s interest
  • Company description—what your company does and how it will meet consumer need
  • Market analysis—shows the potential for your company to succeed, including research about the emu industry, trends, and market outlook; facts about your company’s target market; market share, pricing, and your competition; regulatory requirements and their impact on your company and how you’ll be compliant
  • Operations plan—your company’s organizational structure, details about the ownership of your company, profiles of your management team, and the qualifications of your board of directors, if applicable
  • Service and product line—what your company provides and any copyrights or patents
  • Marketing plan—your company’s marketing and sales strategies
  • Financial analysis—an outline of your funding requirements and financial projections
  • Appendix—this optional section includes miscellaneous business documents such as credit history, resumes of key managers, product pictures, permits, leases, legal documents, your company’s business consultants such as attorney and accountant, etc.

Developing a Marketing Strategy

Stinar and Reavis encouraged emu business owners to also create a marketing plan to accompany their business plan.

A marketing plan outlines how to promote your business as well as your ideas of how to make money and increase sales, Stinar said. (Learn more about marketing plans and strategies by attending this year’s AEA Convention July 14-15 in Springfield, Missouri.)

Understanding who your target market is and who your competition is will make or break your business. Research your area’s dynamics, determine who your customers are, and strategically target them with your marketing plan.

The four key elements to a successful marketing plan are:

  • Product—finding the right product for the target market in your area
  • Price—finding the right price customers are willing to pay and you still make a profit
  • Place—finding the right place to market your product (in person, online, or both)
  • Promotion—finding the right medium to promote and advertise your product (word of mouth, print, radio, TV, online, social media, trade shows, events, etc.)

Every spring the AEA provides promotional tactics and tips daily through its digital media platforms as part of its N.E.W. (National Emu Week) program.

“You don’t have to have a degree to learn these skills,” Stinar said.

“Anything can be a press release,” Reavis added, encouraging the audience to contact their local media outlets with story ideas. Before contacting the media, jot down who, what, when, why, and how—“just get the idea out there,” she said.

Stinar and Reavis concluded that emu business owners may have the same goal, but they are likely to have different ways of achieving it depending on where they are, what their resources are, and what their timelines are.

“Everyone’s business plan is going to be different,” Reavis said.