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Ag Startup Failure vs. Success: 7 Must-Haves for Success

Forging success as an agribusiness startup is a monumental struggle: only 10% of all startups succeed due to their ability to sell their product to consumers.

Here are seven things you must do to keep from becoming a failed startup statistic:

1 – Establish your vision. Created from a dream and a vision, companies like Apple, Google, Disney and Holden’s Foundation Seeds all come from humble beginnings. Steve Jobs and Walt Disney disrupted accepted norms and innovated with passion to develop and market new products with incremental value and levels of productivity. Establishing a well-defined vision for your business gives you the ability to distinguish yourself from others. Be bold enough to dream and brave enough to commit yourself to your vision.

2 – Write down what you wish to achieve and in what timeframe. As an agribusiness, these strategic elements will serve as an umbrella for the development and execution of a direct action plan (DAP). Though developing a strategic plan can be intimidating for a business owner, it serves to identify and inspire opportunities, track progress and deliver objectives, profitability and long-term sustainability.

3 – Identify your target audience. According to Forbes, 42 % of failed startups attributed their failure to creating a product no one needed or wanted. Could this lack of need or desire also be due to the business not identifying the right audience? Transfer your value proposition to those consumers who will reap the most benefits. Be transparent by not only conveying the features and benefits of your product, but also the when, where, why or why not, a customer should use it.

4 – Commit yourself to the success of your business. In today’s world, you must be able to evolve and be innovative while presenting concise information about your product. You must constantly advocate and re-advocate to ensure your customer base has a full understanding of your product and why they need it. Utilize customer testimonials and use negative customer feedback to change and grow.

5 – Keep your business structure and investments light. Avoid overstaffing and overbuilding at the beginning of development. Investments in people and hard assets should trail business success.

6 – Track and benchmark progress. As mentioned above, this practice is essential to making informed changes and decisions to keep business progress at a rate of speed consistent with desired results. Prepare yourself for unplanned road blocks and unforeseen, but lucrative opportunities, and incorporate these nuances into your DAP. Once your DAP is properly realigned, move forward.

7 – Have a five-year funding plan. In my experience, most startups require two to three times longer to reach their goals than originally envisioned, and your funding plan should reflect this. Using these tools will make you a proactive agribusiness entrepreneur who plans for obstacles while striving for daily success, no matter what may come your way.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” – the late Steve Jobs of Apple Inc.

The executive resources at Finding Black Ink have the career experiences needed to aid agribusiness owners with their startup. The core philosophies that guide Finding Black Ink’s experts align with the factors today’s business owners consider daily: objectivity, creativity, integrity, collaboration and market understanding. With Finding Black Ink, you’ll find a fresh and beneficial perspective on achieving your business’ priorities. Want John's insights on starting up a business? Reach him here. About John H. Nelsen John is a 45-year veteran of the seed industry, having twice directly participated and/or led businesses from no net revenue to $200M annual net revenue accompanied by sustainable profitability through organic growth. John has worked for both private-equity startups and multinationals, has held the positions of global CEO, CEO, EVP and director of worldwide production, has been actively engaged in startups in the U.S., Brazil and India, and has worked with all crops. John has also served two terms on the USA Office of Plant Variety Protection Advisory Board, 10 years on the American Seed Trade Association Executive Board and one year as ASTA chairman. He's also served two terms on the Rabo Bank Advisory Board and held board positions for First Line Seed of Canada, Asgrow France and the Indiana Crop Improvement Association. He is a current member of the RiceTec AG Board of Directors and a founder of Finding Black Ink (FBI).

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