Strategic Business Planning

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Business Planning

Coming up with business plans and structuring a family business correctly are critical steps in the planning process. Doing these correctly can set the stage for a smooth and efficient business operation. Check out the business planner (interactive business planning program) along with publications to help you formulate your own business plan!

This website will help you write a business plan using a question-and-answer guided format.

Keywords: business, planning


 INventure website

Keywords: business, planning, guide

This article walks you through writing your own business plan!



Keywords: employee ownership, ESOP, employee stock ownership

This free, downloadable booklet features compelling stories, research results, and easy-access explanations of employee ownership and its potential to make our economy better. This site also contains additional resources, such as:

  • How an Employee Stock Ownership Plan Works
  • Using an Employee Stock Ownership Plan for Business Continuity
  • Key Studies on Employee Ownership and Corporate Performance
  • An Introduction to ESOPS, Understanding ESOPS, and Selling Your Business to an ESOP



Please note: once on the website, there is an option to download a free PDF version of this document in the description section of the page.

Craig Dobbins and Cole Ehmke

Keywords: organizational structure, manager, business principles

If you have ever come across questions such as: “What are the jobs that need to be done within my business?” or “How are these jobs going to be divided up?”, this article can help. It helps to solve those questions by analyzing the functional organizational structure of a business. Key audiences include: owners and managers of a family business or small business.



AICC Publication

Keywords: business plan

This document provides an example of what content a business plan would usually include. For every section of the business plan, there is detailed information to guide you to write your own.



Cole Ehmke and Jay Akridge

Keywords: business plan, entrepreneur

What should be included in a business plan? This article thoroughly explains the content of each section in a business plan and guides the readers step by step to develop a business plan. Sections for a plan should include business description, market analysis, competitor assessment, marketing plan, operating plan, financial plan, and executive summary.



Cole Ehmke

Keywords: assumptions, planning, venture

If you are an entrepreneur trying to develop plans for a new venture, you might need to make assumptions of how the business would operate and construct a business plan. This article will help you identify and avoid some important assumptions that might be harmful to your new venture. This article also shows how to thoroughly think though the planning process for the new venture.



Craig Dobbins, Allan Gray, Michael Boehlje, Alan Miller, and Cole Ehmke

Keywords: strategic planning, business environment

Strategic planning involves making better decisions in order to reach a desired future. One of the key elements of strategic planning is recognizing and explicitly stating key assumptions about the future business environment. This article includes internal and external environment analysis which contributes to better strategic planning. Specifically, Porter’s Five Forces Model is introduced.



Contingency Planning​

It is always a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected. Whether it is the loss of an employee, loss of an owner, or an unexpected family emergency, contingency planning can help to minimize disruption for a family business.

Maria I. Marshall and Corinne Alexander

Keywords: human resource, risk, contingency plan

Human resource risk is critical to business development, yet it is often overlooked by the managers. This article provides information on how to tackle human resource risk by developing a contingency plan for the business. Each specific section in the plan is further explained in this article to further help you with the development of it.




Purdue Extension/NCERME-Funded Project with collaborators: Renee Wiatt, Ariana Torres, Ed Farris, Kelly Heckaman, Michael Langemeier, Kyle Mandeville, Maria Marshall, and Jenna Nees

Keywords: planning, managing risk, contingency planning

These resources help farms and agribusinesses to manage and evaluate risks that their farm/agribusiness face on topics of: human resources, finances, legal matters, production, social media, and marketing. Find all six resources below. 

Human Resource Checklist

Financial Checklist

Legal checklist

production checklist

Social Media checklist

marketing checklist

Purdue Extension

Keywords: code red plan, business and farm operation

This resource helps you learn how to prevent a code red situation (i.e. if a business is unable to operate due to the loss of a key member) for your family, business or farm operation by having a completed Code Red plan. Topics included are passwords, bank account information, rental agreements, insurance papers and power of attorney documents and much more in one easy location. After completing the Code Red plan, family farms should turn a code red situation into a code green and the business can continue to operate on a daily basis. Code Red also can be a tool that helps families get motivated to get started on estate and/or succession planning.



Goals & Objectives

Setting goals and objectives not only makes it clear to all involved what the business is striving for, but it also creates clear benchmarks that a family business wants to achieve. This page contains guides for setting goals and objectives but also helps family businesses establish their vision and mission.

Maria I. Marshall​

Keywords: goals, objectives

The main purpose of this article is to help the readers write effective goals and objectives for their businesses. This article introduces the importance of having goals and objectives for the business.



Christy Lusk and Maria I. Marshall

Keywords: goal setting, tracking progress

This article aims to provide beginning business managers the information about the purpose of setting goals, how to set those goals and how to track progress. Audiences of this article are expected to be able to understand how to use goals to identify tasks critical to the business’s success and also set up a tracking system for accomplishing them.




Keywords: questionnaire

This is a self-check questionnaire.



Craig Dobbins

Keywords: goals, objectives

Most business owners understand the importance of setting goals for the businesses, but only 5% of them would actually do it. Why? Because it requires time commitment and hard work. In this article, detailed information about long-term goals and short-term objectives are provided to encourage business owners to set them in their everyday lives. This article also discusses the possible solutions to conflicting goals.



Industry & Competition

Family businesses must recognize and capitalize on the fact that they have a competitive advantage. What gives your family business an edge over others? Can alliances be made to help your business? Find out more here!

Allan Gray, Michael Boehlje, Craig, Dobbins, Cole Ehmke

Keywords: analysis, competitive advantage, potentials, capabilities

When facing the changing environment around your business and other competitors in the industry, have you wondered: what is my farm’s competitive advantage? Well this article might be a good start for you to identify the potential and capabilities of your business. Specifically, this article help you find out the resources, and core competencies of the business, which are all critical to the internal analysis of the business. This publication also introduces The Value Plate, which is used to provide a framework for identifying the activities the business conducts to create value.



Cole Ehmke, Joan Fulton, and Jay Akridge

Keywords: five forces, industry, analysis

Michael Porter’s five forces, which include bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of buyers, threat of new entrants, threat of substitutes, and rivalry among competitors, are widely used to assess the structure of any industry. This article will help you determine the competitive rules and strategies for your business. This article provides detailed information on how the analysis of each force could be done and how to apply it to your business.



Joan Fulton

Keywords: producer alliance, investment, risks, five forces, strategic positioning, goals

More and more farmers are joining a producer alliance to move along the value chain and capture profits from other states. If you intend to join or already joined one, have you ever wondered about the following questions? Is the alliance a good business investment? Will the organizational structure work? Are there other goals for the alliance and do they compete with or complement the goal of business profitability? Porter’s Five Forces is used to help you approach these questions with clarity.



Legal Matters

What licensing, regulatory, intellectual property rights and tax requirements does your family business need to consider? This page contains in-depth information regarding these matters.

Cole Ehmke and Jeffrey Williams

Keywords: intellectual property, assets, patent, trademarks, copyright

This article aims to provide entrepreneurs with intellectual property (IP) assets information about three basic types of protectable IP assets and instructions in protection of those assets. Readers will be able to determine if an invention is patentable and also be able to begin IP protection process.



Christy L. Lusk and Maria I. Marshall

Keywords: license, regulations, tax, agency directory

This checklist helps you identify all of the regulatory requirements for a new business. It is intended to make the administrative components of beginning a business in Indiana as simple as possible. The checklist is broken down into different sections to be better suitable for different specialties, including general regulatory information for all businesses, businesses with employees, businesses with environmental concerns, businesses at wholesale level, businesses at retail level and businesses with animal products. Additionally, this guide includes state- and county-level agency directories, a portion of Indiana Code detailing business structure registration requirements, and an index of additional requirements for specific occupational businesses.




Marketing a family business correctly can set a business up for success. By identifying key factors about your business’ products, you will be able to better market your business and your products.

Cole Ehmke, Joan Fulton and Christy L. Lusk

Keywords: four P’s, marketing, customers

Are you a new entrepreneur who is getting ready to marketing your businesses? You may have heard about the four P’s of marketing, which are four critical elements in marketing a business and its products. The four P’s (product, price, place, promotion) are variables that play an important role in attracting customers in a market. This article provides detailed information about four P’s as well as practical worksheets that would further assist you in evaluating them.



Indiana's Business Environment​

How is Indiana different from other states? This page contains supplementary information about Indiana’s business environment, including populations, rural transportation, community banks, rural development, and more!

Francisco Albert Scott and Brigitte S. Waldorf

Keywords: rural, startups, dynamics

This article provides data about business establishments in Indiana’s rural counties and has a focus for business startups. Data are interpreted in meaningful ways to aid on decision-making for local and state leaders as well as business starters in rural communities. Moreover, this paper looks at the business dynamics in rural Indiana in the years before, during, and after the Great Recession.



Freddie Barnard and Elizabeth Yeager

Keywords: rural banking, community banks, rural Indiana

This article discusses the real possibility of not having a bank in certain rural counties and what implications that has for that county's residents. Rural Indiana residents have financial needs; and those needs seem to be shifting. Community banks can fill a void in rural communities by allowing access to banking services that would otherwise be absent from the county.



Kevin Camp and Janet Ayres

Keywords: unemployment, rural Indiana, urban areas

Unemployment has been increasing faster in rural counties than in more urban counties, and not recovering as quickly. Unemployment rates help to measure overall economic health of a community. This article contains good visual aids that help to show how unemployment rates are in rural Indiana versus more urban areas.



Brigitte Waldorf, Janet Ayres, and Melissa McKendree

Keywords: population, rural, community

Population size and characteristics are directly linked to a community’s viability and viability. This article provides analysis of rural population in Indiana and looks into the drivers of population change and the implications of these changes.



Janet Ayres, Brigitte Waldorf, Melissa McKendree, and Laura Hoelscher

Keywords: rural, Indiana, rural communities

This paper defines the word “rural” and explains the complications involved in arriving at the definition provided. Also this paper provides a figure and a table to depict a picture of rural Indiana that lays the ground work for further discussion of the issues confronting the state. Local and state leaders who work with rural communities would find the information in this article helpful.



Kevin Camp and Brigitte Waldorf

Keywords: education, deprivation, economy, employment, income

Educational attainment is important for individuals’ economic success. This article compares educational attainment levels for rural and urban areas in Indiana and provides implications of the educational deprivation with an emphasis on its relationship to employment and income.



V. Dimitra Pyrialakou, Brigitte Waldorf, and Konstantina Gkritza

Keywords: rural Indiana, transportation challenges, public transportation

Transport needs can be a huge problem in rural areas; and rural Indiana is no different. When public transportation is not available, many people can be disadvantaged when it comes to such tasks as going to work, routine grocery shopping, and other appointments. There is a large transportation need gap in rural Indiana, but some can be mitigated by use of existing transport opportunities, extending the transport network and coordinating land use decisions.



Brigitte Waldorf and Melissa McKendree

Keywords: aging, rural, population, challenges

This article explores whether rural Indiana is experiencing an aging of its population similar to that of the U.S. population as a whole. In addition, this article provides information about the causes and consequences of the population aging. Future challenges confronting rural communities are also a discussion at the end of the article.



Ann Cummins, Nicole Olynk Widmar, Joan Fulton and Candace Croney

Keywords: animal agriculture, rural Indiana, agriculture

Indiana's economy is strengthened by the presence of agriculture in the state. People's views about agriculture and animal production can have great implications for the market. This article compares views on animal agriculture from those in urban areas versus those in rural areas. Implications of those findings are discussed.