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"Gotta have a business plan," says Ontario blueberry farm entrepreneur

CompanySiebert Blueberry Farm
Industry:Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
City:Beamsville, Ontario
Amounts: various  Find what funding programs you qualify for

Seeking financing with business plan for farm

Both Sonya Siebert and her husband, Vic, grew up on farms. Years later, living in Beamsville, an Ontario subdivision and working in larger centres, they both longed for more space. But coming as they did from farming stock, they wanted to actually work the land and reap its rewards. Discovering a property where blueberries grew plentiful and equipped with a professional business plan, the couple is now looking to finance their business.

Field full of weeds turns to field full of blueberries

Last year, they discovered a three-acre property in the country south of town which produced a variety of fruit, including pears, plums, grapes, blackberries and elderberries. But the find that intrigued them most was a row of blueberries. Despite its reputation as a fruit belt, the Niagara region (Ontario's "Golden Horseshoe") isn't known for its blueberries. "The row was on an acre of property that was just covered in weeds," says Sonya. "It has a well on it, and at one time, the owner had something productive growing on it. But the blueberry plants were about six feet tall, and the blueberries were really quite plentiful, and since there's no one in this area that has them, they sold quite quickly." The Sieberts cleared the weeds and had the soil tested to determine if it was acidic enough to sustain blueberries. "And then we decided to put in a full acre of blueberries."

Finding the perfect niche market

That was the genesis of Siebert Blueberry Farm. Sonya figures they could eventually have 500 plants growing, with different varieties for cross pollination. And since blueberries bloom and produce at different times, the Sieberts will have blueberries from June through August. "There's a fruit stand here about every hundred feet, so most of them that don't have blueberries will gladly take them and sell them," says Sonya.

Business plan needed for financing

But while she could afford a certain number of plants, getting the acre covered was going to take a significant investment (and it would be five years before they were in full production), so the Sieberts began looking for financing. "You have to do a business plan," she says. "In all the research I've done, and everybody I've talked to regarding grants or loans or anything like that, it's clear. You have to have a plan together. And I don't have the background for that or the time."

Business plan helps to grow business

So she turned to the Centre for Business Plan Development to assist her in preparing a professional, effective plan. "The process was amazing. The writer who did my plan, I could tell he wasn't from the farm no insult but he understood everything I was trying to tell him and that's huge." Siebert says she's very pleased with her business plan, which is helping her take the right steps to grow her business and seek out funding. "I've had all positive feedback on it. It was a definite must." She highly recommends other budding entrepreneurs arm themselves with a well-crafted business plan. "You have to have the business plan. If you're looking for government assistance, you do definitely. You absolutely gotta have it."

Imagine how a professionally prepared business plan could help grow your business. For a free consultation, call 1-800-481-8434.

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