Technical Assistance for Planning Your Business

Key resources for planning your business.

  • eExtension is an online community for Cooperative Extension, which translates the knowledge gained from research into education programs that help provide solutions to problems facing the agricultural community. Here you can find publications from the Cooperative Extension network and ask experts for their advice.
  • FarmAnswers.org, a production of the University of Minnesota, and funded by USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant program (BFRDP) as the national BFRDP clearinghouse, makes available several key business planning guides. 
  • BusinessUSA is a centralized, one-stop platform to allow businesses to access services to help them grow and hire, including critical business-planning tools. Here, you can access answer services, and most importantly, free business-planning tools. 
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) also makes available a wealth of information about starting, managing, and transitioning a business. Explore information and guidance that will help you manage and grow your business effectively. 
  • The Farm Service Agency (FSA) can also provide basic business planning help and assistance as part of the lending process. Bring a first draft of your business plan to your appointment with the FSA for free technical assistance. FSA can connect you to local resources and organizations in your community to help you establish a successful business plan.  
  • Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses
  • What is AgPlan?
  • If you are interested in starting an organic business, your business plan will differ.  Learn more at: Is Organic an Option for Me?
  • Tips for new entrepreneurs
  • The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) is a national virtual resource center for value-added agricultural groups
  • USDA’s Rural Development Agency has a helpful guide for developing a cooperative. How to Start a Cooperative:  Cooperative Development Centers, partially funded by Rural Development (RD), can also provide technical assistance and education on starting a cooperative.

Urban Agriculture
USDA offers many resources for farmers in urban spaces.  For more information, check out our online toolkit that is chock-full of information on some of the local, state, federal, and private resources available to support urban agricultural operations. The toolkit focuses on some of the most pressing challenges confronted by urban farmers, including land access, soil quality, water, capital and financing, infrastructure, market development, production strategies, and even applying for a Federal grant. The toolkit also includes cost estimates for starting an urban farm, developed with the help of our extension partners in Chicago and Indianapolis.

The key question to ask any creditor as you prepare your farm business plan is what benchmarks they look for in your peers. This can give you indicators of health—and provide guidance on what to look for in your business plan and performance to know if you are on the right track.