Choosing a Business

Finding the right type of business to start on your land depends on many factors. Some of these considerations are:

  • the resources available on your property
  • the compatibility of the business with your current land use
  • the additional cost of liability insurance
  • the sustainability of your natural resources
  • you and your family's goals and capabilities
  • the accessibility of your land
  • the client base
  • the existing market conditions

Read A Checklist of Considerations for Landowners and Business Considerations for Private Landowners for more information.

Natural Resource Inventory

Inventorying the resources available on your property include acreage, ponds and lakes, wildlife habitat, wildlife, and more. You must have ample resources to run and manage your business and ensure their sustainability for business longevity. Read the page, "Inventory your land" for more information.

Compatibility With Current Land Use

Your selected business must not be in conflict with your current land use such as farming, forestry, or livestock. Considerations include

  • Can you use your land for other purposes in addition to your current uses such as farming, forestry, or livestock grazing?
  • Will opening your land to paying customers cause conflicts or compromises with your current land use?
  • If so, will that reduce your income from the current land use?
  • Do you have enough employees and family members to handle the additional work of a natural resource enterprise?
  • Will your new enterprise fill the gap during normal downtimes or will it conflict with existing workloads?

Liability Insurance

Anyone who allows public use of their lands for recreational use, whether or not a fee is charged for access and/or use of the property, should consider acquiring sufficient liability insurance coverage. Liability insurance companies generally limit the total liability of the insurance company to a specific sum per occurrence, which may be much less than the liability incurred by the insured, but it does reduce the risk of loss. The additional cost of this insurance must be a factor when deciding to start a new enterprise.

Resource Sustainability

When choosing a type of business to start, you need to consider whether or not the resource you are basing the business on is sustainable. A high quality of the experience for the customer must be maintained for years to come in order to have a successful business. If your business negatively impacts the resources on your land, your business may suffer.

Personal and Family Assessment

When choosing a business, you and your family's personalities, experience, interests, and abilities all come in to play.

  • Will you and/or members of your family or employees enjoy dealing with people who will be using your land and having access to your natural resources?
  • Do your and your family’s long-term objectives for ownership require adding an alternative enterprise to your existing operation for increased or more dependable annual income?
  • Do you and/or members of your family or existing employees have some practical experience or knowledge about the type of enterprise you are considering?
  • Are you and your family or employees willing to keep records and manage the business aspects of the new enterprise?
  • Are you and your family willing to take the risks associated with investing in the management and operation of a new enterprise?

Additional Considerations

  • Will the enterprise be seasonal or operated year-round?
  • Can the existing natural resources be enhanced to meet the needs and demands of the client base for the enterprise, and can they be sustained for future needs?
  • Will the enterprise offer consumptive use of the resources, such as hunting and fishing, or so-called nonconsumptive uses, such as horse riding, bird watching, or both?
  • Will the enterprise offer primarily land-based activities, water-based, or both?
  • Will the enterprise be compatible with the other existing operation(s)?
  • Can the enterprise be operated with existing resources, or will investments, loans, and additional labor be necessary?
Mississippi State University Publications
Business Considerations for Private Landowners

Business Considerations for Private Landowners (PDF)
Mississippi State University Extension Service

Mississippi State University Extension Service. The first step to planning a natural resource enterprise is writing up a business plan to determine if the business is realistic. Next, determine what physical, financial and labor recourses are available. Marketing, organizational and financial plans are necessary to determine if the business will succeed.

A Checklist of Considerations for Landowners

A Checklist of Considerations for Landowners (PDF)
Mississippi State University Extension Service

This is a list of things to consider before starting a natural resource enterprise. It includes the determining what resources are available, such as land and buildings and wildlife populations, determining if the land’s natural resources can be used for more than one purpose and if a sufficient labor force is available, liability insurance, how long the enterprise will last, the willingness of the family to participate in the enterprise, finding customers, the location of the business and how easy it is to access, and creating a business plan. A worksheet is provided to help evaluate the success of a potential natural resource enterprise.

Other Publications

Checklist for Starting a Value-Added Agriculture Enterprise (PDF)
NC State University

This checklist covers the areas to consider when researching the possibility of undertaking a value-added agricultural enterprise.

Alternative Enterprises and Agritourism Resources (PDF)
Natural Resources Conservation Service

A lengthy listing of available resources discussing alternative enterprises and agritourism businesses and how to start, manage, and operate them. Includes articles entitled "Alternative Enterprises: For Higher Profits, Healthier Lands," "Agritourism Alternative Enterprises, Conservation, Sustainability, and Partnerships for Farms, Ranches and Rural Communities," "Choosing Your Enterprise: A Checklist," "Tips for Staying On Track and Getting Started," and a Small Farm Resource Guide.