Getting Started in Aquaculture
Tech Talk 107
How Do I Get Into the Aquaculture Business?
By coming up with a business plan that can't fail and having a lot of money, skill, patience and energy. As you know, most new businesses don't make it. Aquaculture businesses are especially difficult because of the slim margins, burdensome government regulations, lengthy start-up time, live animal constraints, diseases, power outages, unreliable vendors and fluctuating market prices.
A beginner in aquaculture must first learn as much as possible about the needs of the species to be cultured. Use books, videos, publications, extension agents, schools and especially other people in the same business. Only if you think of a way to make a lot of money should you go to the next step, which is doing a detailed business plan. After you have included everything you can think of, have the plan carefully scrutinized by a minimum of three businessmen who are knowledgeable in that type of business. Do not dismiss their objections!
Here are some things to address in your business plan specific to aquaculture:
- Lack of funding is the number one cause of business failure. Ditto for aquaculture.
- Time and expense to meet government regulations before even beginning.
- Site selection. Don't try to make a bad location work.
- Include cost for crop insurance, if available.
- Consider starting small, even at the hobby level, to learn all husbandry aspects, growth rates, costs, etc., and to get a feel for marketing.
- Consider niche businesses that do not sell product at commodity prices but rather specialty or value-added products at higher prices.
If you do come up with a plan that shows the business can be highly profitable, you can only proceed if you will have enough money to operate the business with zero income until after the first successful crop has been sold and paid for … and that could be a long time.
This is not a pessimistic view of the aquaculture business but rather a realistic one. Don't become a statistic; only start a for-profit business if your business plan is rock solid and you really love the business.
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