Forest Landowner's Guide to Evaluating and Choosing a Natural Resource-Based Enterprise

Publication Number: NRAES-151
Cost: $19.95
Length: 102 pages
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0-935817-92-1
Authors: Jonathan S. Kays, Maryland Cooperative Extension; Joy Drohan, formerly with Maryland Cooperative Extension
Features: Worksheets, Enterprise budgets, Marketing examples

Worksheets provide a framework for assessing personal goals, family goals, forest resources, financial resources, and labor needs. Provides guidance on developing a marketing plan. Includes descriptions and detailed enterprise budgets for 13 forest-based enterprises.

Landowner's Guide Helps Ensure Success of Forest-Based Businesses

Each year, forest landowners consider starting new businesses to make the most of their wildlife, water, cropland, and forest resources. Some landowners are traditional farmers who want to diversify their operations. Others are new property owners in search of a sustainable, long-term source of income or recent retirees who now have time to start a hobby business.

Unfortunately, many such endeavors are less than successful -- or fail altogether -- because the landowner lacked information to make informed decisions; had insufficient technical, business, or marketing skills; or had a shortsighted view of the enterprise. The book, Forest Landowner's Guide to Evaluating and Choosing a Natural Resource-Based Enterprise (102 pages; 2004), leads potential business owners through an evaluation process to better their chances of launching a successful business. The guide will be a useful resource for landowners, extension educators, consultants, and other natural resources professionals.

The book begins with a discussion of proper stewardship of forest resources. This is of utmost importance, because if lands are improperly managed, the natural resources for any business can't be sustained. The book then guides readers through a step-by-step process of sieving through potential new business ideas. Discussions, worksheets, and illustrative examples using the fictional Smith family help readers assess personal and family goals; determine financial, labor, and management resources; assess the site and inventory natural resources; and evaluate potential markets and marketing options.

The last half of the book includes detailed enterprise budgets for eleven different businesses, including Christmas trees and holiday greenery, custom portable sawmills, vacation cabins, shiitake mushrooms, fee fishing, hunting leases, horse boarding, and ginseng. A four-page appendix lists other sources of information and counsel, including state, regional, and federal government agencies; web sites; and books and magazines.

Some who work through the exercises in the Forest Landowner's Guide might conclude that starting a forest-based enterprise is not for them. Others might decide on a completely different enterprise from the one initially considered. And others will forge ahead with their original business plan with more confidence. In any case, the guide will help landowners save time and money through more informed decision making.

The Forest Landowner's Guide to Evaluating and Choosing a Natural Resource-Based Enterprise was written by Jonathan S. Kays, an Extension Specialist in Natural Resources with Maryland Cooperative Extension, and Joy Drohan, a former Faculty Extension Assistant with Maryland Cooperative Extension. It was published by NRAES, the Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service.

About the Authors

Why Use This Guide?

The First Step: Dealing with the Stewardship of Forest Resources

Developing a Forest Stewardship Plan
SIDEBAR: Components of the Forest Stewardship Plan
Harvesting Forest Products to Enhance Wildlife Habitat and Allow Other Forest Benefits
Using a Consulting Forester When Selling Timber
SIDEBAR: Types of Foresters

SIDEBAR: Choosing Your Consulting Forester Wisely
Deriving Tax Advantages from Practicing Forest Stewardship
Growing Trees in Your Forest to Grow Compound Interest

Possible Natural Resource Income Opportunities

Forestry and Natural Resource Enterprises
SIDEBAR: What about Special Forest Products?
Recreational Access and Ecotourism
Alternative and Traditional Agriculture
Marketing Is Key!

Sieving Out a Successful Enterprise Idea

SIDEBAR: Sieving Out a Successful Enterprise Idea
Examining Personal and Family Beliefs
EXERCISE: Reality Check -- Is the Rest of the Family with You?
Considering Personal Goals, Attitudes, and Skills
EXERCISE: What Are My Goals, Attitudes, and Skills?

Determining Family Labor and Management Resources: An Initial Assessment of Resources, Goals, and Possible Enterprises
Example: Meet the Smith Family
EXERCISE: Assessing My Resources, Goals, and Possible Enterprises
Assessing the Site and Taking an Inventory
SIDEBAR: Effect of Residency Status

EXERCISE: Inventory Your Land and Natural Resources
EXERCISE: Inventory Your Physical and Personal Resources
Example for the Smith Family: Inventory of Resources
EXAMPLE EXERCISE for the Smiths: Inventory Your Land and Natural Resources
EXAMPLE EXERCISE for the Smiths: Inventory Your Physical and Personal Resources

Choosing a New Enterprise
EXERCISE: Relative Merits of Various Enterprise Ideas
EXAMPLE EXERCISE for the Smiths: Relative Merits of Various Enterprise Ideas
Planning Your New Enterprise
EXERCISE: What Am I Selling, Anyway?

EXERCISE: Marketing Options for a ____________ Enterprise
EXAMPLE EXERCISE: Marketing Options for a Fee-Fishing Enterprise
EXERCISE: Who Is My Target Market?
EXERCISE: Who Are My Competitors?
EXERCISE: What Are My Legal, Regulatory, and Liability Issues?

EXERCISE: Can I Meet My Labor and Management Needs?
EXERCISE: What Will It Take to Produce My Product or Service?
The Big Decision: To Start or Abandon the Enterprise?
What about the Smith Family?
SIDEBAR: Some Final Thoughts

Appendix A: Enterprise Budgets

Aquaculture Enterprise
Holiday Greenery Enterprise
Christmas Tree Enterprise
Custom Portable Sawmill Enterprise
Traditional White Oak Basketmaking Enterprise

SIDEBAR: Wooden Utensil-Making Enterprise
Ginseng Enterprise
SIDEBAR: Theft -- A Major Concern
Hunting Lease Enterprise
Fee-Fishing Enterprise

Vacation Cabin Enterprise
Horse-Boarding Enterprise
Shiitake Mushroom Enterprise

Appendix B: Sources of Information, Advice, and Counsel

Paid Consultants: Accountants, Attorneys, Bankers, and Insurance Agents
Free Consultants: Suppliers, Customers, and Trade Associations
Business Assistance from the Public Sector
Business Resources


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