Your One-Page Path to Success

Can your food or farm business succeed? It sure can. But it could also be a total flop. And it’s not the products you’re selling that will seal your company’s fate.

At FFI, we work with a vast array of food and farm businesses, from early-stage startups to larger enterprises, that offer all kinds of amazing products. Some of their offerings are very unique or niche, like Oregon Coast Wasabi, featured on the latest Edible-Alpha® podcast, while others operate in more crowded categories. But no matter a company’s stage, scope or market, there’s one hard-and-fast rule that we always hammer home: It’s a business model, not a product, that determines whether or not a food or beverage company makes money.

This rule sometimes surprises new entrepreneurs. It may even scare them too. After all, most food and agriculture entrepreneurs go into business primarily because they’re passionate about their product, know it inside and out, and want to share it with the world—not because they like number crunching and spreadsheets.

But as we work with clients, we show them that a solid business plan doesn’t need to be complex, and the process of crafting it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, the whole shebang can be mapped out on a single page. Sure, writing up a long, detailed business plan can be useful. But distilling everything down into one page is typically a much more impactful (and quicker!) exercise. It helps entrepreneurs focus their ideas, tease out the most important stuff and then be able to communicate their plan to others.

That is why, whenever FFI works with a new client, we always start with the same homework assignment: We ask them to fill out something called a lean business model canvas. This simple template, specially tailored to lean startups, features nine cells representing key aspects of a business model.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Customer segments. Who is your target audience? Who are you trying to reach with your products?
  2. Problem. Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, what is the primary problem(s) they face and that your product or service can solve? What are their existing alternatives?
  3. Solution. What are the top features of your product that enable it to solve your customers’ problem?
  4. Channels. Which channels will best allow you to reach your target customers?
  5. Unique value proposition. In a clear, concise statement, what unique benefits does your product offer to your target customers in regard to the problem you’re aiming to solve? How does your value differ from what another company can deliver?
  6. Revenue streams. What sources of income will keep the business running?
  7. Cost structure. What are the costs of doing business, including sourcing, distribution, customer acquisition, etc.?
  8. Key metrics. Which data points best illustrate how well your company is performing? Which will help you identify areas of improvement?
  9. Unfair advantage. Also called competitive advantage, what makes your business stand out? What assets do you have that your competitors can’t easily access?

Once a client fills out the nine blocks, the complete canvas provides a snapshot of a company. This gives the entrepreneur a clearer picture of what they’re working with and helps us determine, together, which areas need the most refining. Plus, the canvas can always serve as a reference point and cornerstone of future business decisions.

FFI is always happy to help entrepreneurs navigate this pivotal exercise, so please reach out!


Jennifer Bloeser fell in love with wasabi years ago, so she figured out how to grow it at scale and sell it to restaurants, grocers, distributors and consumers online. Now 11 years in, Oregon Coast Wasabi is expanding operations as it continues to dominate this niche market. Catch the latest podcast to hear Jennifer discuss this versatile culinary and medicinal plant, as well as her business model, financing strategy and plans for the future.

Listen to the Latest Episode


And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…

Consultant With TabletBusiness Model Insights

Raising CapitalRaising Capital

National Wholesale BrandsCPG/National Brands

Grocery Store Produce Section
Market Trends

Regenerative Agriculture
Farming and AgTech

Mergers And AcquisitionsDeals/M&A

 

Industry Events

Virtual events:

In-person events:

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