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can anybody help with providing a business plan or outline for selling honey and various honey products online via etsy...also, calculating shipping fees and possibly striking up a deal with USPS for UPS for regular shipping.
 

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Hello hello,
I suggest you to develop an eCommerce website for your business using Magento,Shopify, etc frameworks, it also provides you the payment gateway functionality and many more like this.
 

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Welcome to Beesource!

If you are serious, check out Palo Alro Software's Business Plan Pro. It has wording from several hundred business plans that all got financed.

Start out as simple as possible and just get a "bad copy" onto paper. Then revise, revise, revise. Wah-lah! after a few revisions, you have a plan. Do not ignore the math template, nor the marketing plan sections.

Do go to farmers' markets the first few years just to get your name out there. Take a weekend or 2- 3- or 4-weekend community college course for online business such as eBay. Do take a semester of accounting, and learn Quick Books or Peachtree accounting.

Set up one room of your home for your shipping center - a desk, a scale, an e-photo setup, shipping zone and rate posters from UPS, USPS, Fed-ex, etc. This can be deducted from your taxes.

Track all shipments and email your customers as the shipped items go. Ask them to rate you after they receive their items. You want to keep 4-1/2 stars or better.

If you can get to an SBA workshop, the SCORE counselors are pretty awesome. The first workshop I took was about why small businesses fail. Number one reason was...(drum roll)...lack of appropriate research. I shot my hand up and asked, "Please define appropriate." The instructor replied, "Who did you ask? Your mom? Your drinking buddies? Your neighbors? OR DID YOU ASK THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BE BUYING FROM YOU ???" Number one reason they failed was that they researched the wrong people.

Do get to all the local beekeeping clubs' meetings - you may have to have a LOT of beekeeper contacts if demand outstrips supply. 2 sideline business beekeepers producing 10 to 90 barrels of honey a year won't pay the rent for a middleman. Most of us sell out every year.

A trip to your state beekeepers' meeting will introduce you to some larger operators and you'll hear some awesome lectures. The costs of the trip are also deductible.

Take the advice to look at your competitors very seriously. You'll want to go see at least one or two in person. I'd ease out of a full-time job as the money came up in the sideline business over a year or two, maybe three. Cashflow doesn't always happen instantly.
 

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Thanks Kilocharlie! Although I didn't ask the question, that is a detailed answer, almost like you've done this before.

We're traveling currently in New England and I thought I would throw something in from an apiary owner up there I spoke with 2-3 days ago. He said a local guy came to him wanting 100 hives. He had decided he could go pro in bees, based on calculations on paper. This owner (responsibly) told him to take it in steps. The guy ended up buying 30 from someone, losing most through the winter and almost completely losing his investment. This to say; if you are importing/buying/selling, then great. If you plan to produce this honey, don't quit your day job until you've had a year or two of making most of what you need to survive. At the end of the day, it's still farming.
 

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Sad about your friend's difficulties. If he runs into a competent beekeeper to mentor him soon, he may recover in two or 3 years.

It is more like 750 to 1,000 U.S. standard Langstroth hives per person in the company (minimum 2 people during honey extraction and its a whole lot easier for doing sales) to stay in business full time, and that is pollination contracts + honey sales. If you already have land, a flatbed truck (maybe a class A license & big rig), a barn or honey room, and know beekeeping, then a beekeeping operation an option.

I thought he was intending to buy honey and mark it up, which is entirely a volume and margin thing for a good marketer.

So yes, he'd want to take it in steps, like 5 years with 30 beehives to learn the trade. I started at the beginning of a 14 year drought cycle ending in the Thomas fire, so even the step-by-step plan can be "rocky".

Business is not for the flash in the pan type personality. Got'ta dig in and make it pay. If it wasn't for the mead I've been making, I would have been out quite a while ago. It is humbling for a beekeeper to have to buy honey to make mead, but I've done it. I'm allergic to alcohol, so it's mostly all going out as sales - I drink ZERO of it. A few bottles go off as gifts, and as barter to seal pollination contract deals.

I do not have the background to know if etsy, craigslist, eBay, Amazon, etc. could sell to enough buyers for a middleman to make a living. Computer folk make it sound easy, but I had a buddy who sold about 6 used fiction novels a day and lost his house. He knew he had sales, but he did not fathom the mathematics not the concept of efficiency needed to stay in business.

Anybody with some background in beekeeping, land, and a truck could step up to a sideline business, say 150 to 500 hives, and work as a part-time tax consultant (time conflict in the Spring, though) BUT THERE WILL BE BAD YEARS.

An investor looks for some advantage, a reason for market dominance. Larger market appeal, more efficient, lower cost, superior product at a better price, etc. A beekeeper has to have a lot of different acts together to accomplish a competitive advantage. Think of a superior truck, inherited land, you are a 3rd, 4th, 5th-generation beekeeper, you own an almond orchard, you are a bee broker - stuff like that. On top of all that, you have to be real good at beekeeping. Lacking that, sideline beekeeping is just a job - lots of work, maybe $60,000 to $80,000 on the good years, and you have to be able to weather the tough times.

90% losses are not unheard of. The land and truck have to have been paid for long ago, and you'd need a year's money in the bank. Multiple income streams are a great option.
 

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If it wasn't for the mead I've been making, I would have been out quite a while ago. It is humbling for a beekeeper to have to buy honey to make mead, but I've done it. I'm allergic to alcohol, so it's mostly all going out as sales - I drink ZERO of it. A few bottles go off as gifts, and as barter to seal pollination contract deals.
Genuinely interested how do you make it work? If you can't taste what you are brewing, how do you know when it is good enough to be sold? I assume it took few years to perfect the recipe, how did you get that far without being able to exercise trial and error method?
 

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Kiocharlie;

That is some very good advice for any business venture.

As for sampling the mead, I expect it is not hard to find human "guinea pigs";)
 

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Frank essentially answered the question, however getting a serious wine judge vs any drunk off the avenue who thinks pruno is fantastic IS one of my criteria.

Proven recipes are a great starting point, as are solid practices learned from those who really know them. Also check out E.C Kraus' website, www.eckraus.com He's a big help.

Having a hydrometer and an understanding of chemistry lab practices are highly recommended.

A relative who has a still is another valuable reference, especially when the info has multiple confirmations in double-blind testing.

Six books full of advice and recipes don't hurt, nor does having friends in the nation's oldest home brewing club, the Maltose Falcons, who meet regularly in Los Angeles and happily give advice based on 40+ years first-hand experience.

So, in a nutshell, get GOOD help.
 
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