I am a 19-years-old business student. I recently inherited land from my grandfather and have decided to cultivate it and go into crop farming. I’m in the process of getting a low interest loan from an agricultural development bank, and am working on everything else such as labor, equipment, nursery and customers. My family has told me to seriously think about it because I am more of a girly-girl who likes nails, make up, dresses, fashion and modeling. They say it is not for me since it will be a lot of hard work, but I really want to do this. Do you think I should? I’d really appreciate your advice. Thanks.
I am so proud of you for being ready to take action and grow the value of your inherited land. So many people sell their inherited real estate and then blow through the money, squandering what a relative worked so hard to build and leave behind. Kudos to you for proactively pursuing wealth; you are one smart girl.
That said, a farming business? And you’re a girly-girl? You are brave for even considering that option!
To be a wise steward of your inheritance without becoming a frustrated business owner, think about these three steps:
1. Get some experience: Clearly you want to start a business. I’m not sure how you came up with the farming idea. From what you’ve shared with me it doesn’t seem like a natural fit, but only you know the answer. Before you start farming or any other business, write down a list of businesses you think you might be interested in. Research the market for those businesses and consider whether you want to start a business that will remain local or that has regional or global reach. Do you plan to live where you are now after graduation? In researching your business ideas, find out whether growth trends are flat or moving upward or downward. Using this information, narrow your list down to three businesses you might like to start and find internships in those areas. Commit to each internship for a minimum of three months. If you find you are really enjoying one of the internships, extend your time to six months so you can learn more.
2. Lease your land to someone else for another purpose until you figure out what you want to do: Perhaps one of the reasons you were eager to start farming is because you wanted to make good use of the land and generate income from it. You can still achieve that outcome. Earn income on the land by leasing it to someone else for farming or another purpose while you intern to decide what business you would like to pursue. Be sure to get an ironclad leasing contract in place. Know the eviction laws in advance just in case you have the unfortunate responsibility of removing and replacing a tenant who is not paying on time or at all. Also, charge the first month’s leasing fee up front.
3. Revisit starting a business after you have done your homework: After your three internships you will know which business you like best. Get help from one of your professors and use all the resources available to you on campus to write a plan for that business. During your time of learning and preparation you will have collected nine to 12 months of leasing fees. Save most of that money. This way, you will have a great new business to pursue, experience in that industry as a result of your internship, plus assets and money to pursue it.
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how it’s going. Good luck!
Felicia Joy is a nationally recognized entrepreneur who created $50 million in value for the various organizations and companies she served in corporate America before launching her business enterprise. She is often called on to discuss the ins and outs of entrepreneurial success and has appeared on CNN, FOX and in other national press. Felicia operates Ms. CEO Inc., a company that helps women entrepreneurs achieve more success, faster — as well as Joy Group International, LLC, a business development and consulting firm. Send her your questions at email@example.com or www.twitter.com/feliciajoy.