New farmers: Focus on your core offering

Farming is more than just growing crops or rearing livestock - it is a business too. Mbali Nwoko gives farmers advice on how to manage their agricultural businesses successfully

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Mbali Nwoko have been farming for the past 3 years.

Focusing on what you are best at in your business can increase the chances of success for new farmers significantly, writes farmer Mbali Nwoko of Green Terrace. She has advice on how not to get distracted by all the crucial functions in your business that may not be your strong point, and how to find people or services to lighten your load.


Whether you are growing beans, crafting beauty products or in the retail game; for any new business owner there is one cardinal rule for success: focus on your core offering. 

This is particularly true for new farmers. During the early stages of your farming life, it’s easy to get distracted by all the elements that running this kind of business involves. What you have to do is cut out the noise by focusing purely on your central offering, your core business. Don’t worry about what others are doing, determine what you do best and concentrate on that.

new farmers Mbali Nwoko, an award-winning farmer and podcaster, is the inspiration behind the Green Terrace Farm in Bapsfontein, Gauteng. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Mbali Nwoko, an award-winning farmer and podcaster, is the driving force behind the Green Terrace Farm in Bapsfontein, Gauteng. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

This requires you to start by asking some searching questions, such as: Will my farm grow crops or breed cattle? Which crops will I grow? Where will I sell my products? At what price? How many employees do I need to have, etc.?

These are important decisions which should be tied to both the potential of your land and your farming passion. If you’re working with what you like, you’re more likely to put in the effort needed to foster a sustainable business.

Once you’ve established your focus point, stick to it. This allows you to better manage the production of your products and address potential problems early on, thereby avoiding possible crises. Furthermore, it’s always great to be an expert in one thing before moving onto another. 

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Be aware that success takes time, so start small, be patient and prepare to put in the long hours. Persistence is key, but so is planning. I recommend sitting down and outlining your immediate and long-term goals for your farm and how you’re working to achieve these. Match these plans with the income and resources available to you and revisit them frequently. 

ALSO READ: New farmers: start off small and gradually grow

Horses for courses – get experts to assist you

Of course, there are other elements of a business – such as accounting, IT or public relations – but new farmers can’t manage all of them alone. By holding on tightly to too many aspects of your business, you’ll be stretched too thin, sabotaging your chances of success. Therefore, outsource what is not your core function of your business. 

Don’t allow yourself to get distracted or sidetracked by trying to handle the marketing, growth or logistics functions of your business. Leave that to people who are more experienced. As specialists, they can do the best possible job of growing your business through these channels, lightening your load so you can build the knowledge you need to ensure your farm thrives.

Only once you’ve mastered your core offering, can you start looking to expand or diversify to ensure long-term growth.

Outsourcing non-core functions helps you focus on the primary part of the business. This is especially important when you’re starting out because your business will require special care and attention. On top of that, you are still learning the ropes and trying to become the best at what you do. 

Of course, you will have to work with what’s within your budget, however if you don’t have the additional funds to seek the help of external providers, look out for those that are willing to give up their free time to assist you in your business i.e: working pro-bono.

Leverage off your relationships and there are many agricultural programs and business incubation services that assist entrepreneurs in starting or scaling their businesses at no cost or a fraction of the market price. 

When you’re keep your eye on the ball, you’re taking the first step to really becoming successful as a new farmer. Only once you’ve mastered your core offering, can you start looking to expand or diversify to ensure long-term growth. 

ALSO READ: New farmers: How to find markets for your produce

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