Do you want to start a seafood company? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to open a seafood business with no money or experience.
The Fish and Seafood Aquaculture industry is indeed a fast – growing industry and pretty much active in countries such as United States of America, Australia, Japan, China, Germany, and Singapore et al. Please note that if you intend to start this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you.
You also need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to get all the information you need before you can legally open your seafood business in your city.
You can start your seafood business from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do when it comes to making different types of seafood, then it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand.
Steps to Starting a Seafood Business
Understand the Industry
Businesses in this industry farm different types of seafood and other aquatic creatures such as fish and shellfish. Shellfish include various species of mollusks (e.g., bivalve mollusks such as clams, oysters, and mussels and cephalopods such as octopus and squid), crustaceans (e.g. shrimp, crabs, and lobster), and echinoderms (e.g. sea urchins), in controlled aquatic environments.
Industry operators use some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as holding in captivity and protecting from predators, pests and disease.
The Fish and Seafood Aquaculture industry experienced slow growth over the last half decade due to the fact that the vast majority of industry revenue is derived from the sale of fish, mollusks and crustaceans that will be processed into food products. The success of this industry is tied to levels of seafood consumption.
Per capita seafood consumption in the United States has declined in recent time, putting strain on fish and seafood farmers. Nevertheless, with the recent increase in the price of seafood, combined with a healthy export market, the revenue generated in industry revenue is expected to grow accordingly.
There is no single fish and seafood company that dominates market, hence smaller fish and seafood businesses can successfully make profits.
Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 2,807 registered and licensed fish and seafood farms responsible for employing about 10,440 and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $1 billion annually. The industry is projected to enjoy 0.3 percent annual growth.
A recent report published by IBISWorld shows that the Fish and Seafood Aquaculture industry is expected to generate 27.4 percent of revenue through the sale of farmed seafood.
One thing is certain when it comes to seafood farming and related business, if you are able to conduct your market research and feasibility studies, you are likely not going to struggle to sell your farm produce (seafood) because there are always food processing companies and consumers out there who are ready to buy from you.
Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own seafood farms could be that the business is easy to set up and they can easily get support from the government; you can actually start your seafood farm in your compound if you live in rural community / farming community.
All you need to do is to purchase the first set of seafood, purchase farming tools and then build your ponds or create demarcation in lake or river around you.
Despite the fact that seafood farm has been in existence since time immemorial, that does not in any way make the industry to be over saturated; seafood farmers are exploring new technology to continue to improve on the farming process. The fact that there is always a ready market for seafood makes the business ever green.
Over and above, there are few barriers to entry into the seafood farms industry. Usually, all inputs are readily available. In the nearest future, players in this industry may face the highest costs associated with accessing technology, especially in relation to genetic modification engineering in seafood breeding.
Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who consume seafood is not restricted to a group of people. People of different races and cultures consume different types of seafood hence the market for seafood production is all encompassing.
So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your seafood farming business, then you should make it all encompassing. It should include grocery stores, food hubs, supermarkets, households, hotels, restaurants and businesses that rely on supply of different types of seafood.
Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
There are a few niche areas that someone who is interested in starting a seafood business may decide to concentrate on and some of these niche ideas are;
- Seafood farming
- Seafood shops
- Seafood restaurant
- Seafood processing.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
No matter the line of business you decide to pitch your tent, you are still going to compete with others who are into same area of business and seafood farming is not an exemption.
The level of competition in the seafood farms industry to some extent depends largely on the location of the business and of course the capacity of your seafood business. If you can successfully add seafood processing and packaging to your seafood farming business, you are likely going to experience little or no competition.
For instance, if you are the only crawfish farm in your location that is into processing and packaging, you can successfully monopolize the market for a long time before you start having competitions.
It is important to also state that the competition in the fish and seafood farms industry depends on the scale of your business. There are seafood businesses in the United States that are competing with global seafood businesses and there are ones that only compete at the local level.
Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Here are some of the most popular seafood farms or businesses in the United States of America and around the globe;
- Taylor Shellfish Farms
- Blue Ridge Aquaculture, Inc.
- Wood’s Fisheries – Port St. Joe, Florida
- Ken’s Hatchery & Fish Farm, Inc.
- Freshwater Farms of Ohio
- Remlinger Fish Farm Ltd
- Hudson Valley Fish Farm, Inc
- Australis Aquaculture LLC
- Fresh Shrimp USA
- Watersmeet Fish Trout Hatchery
- Garden State Farmers Market
- Gwynnbrook Farms
- VeroBlue Farms
- Bensidoun USA Inc
- Lake and Wetland U.S.A. Kissimmee Office
- Fish & Farm
- Sullivan Harbor Farm
- Rushing Waters Fisheries LLC
When starting a business, you just have to get your costing cum economic analysis right if your intention of building the business is to generate profits, grow the business and start exporting processed and packaged seafood within your country and other countries of the world.
When conducting costing and economic analysis for your seafood farm business, you just have to critically examine these key factors; access to the market, access to cheap labor and of course good climatic condition. As a matter of fact, you have to continue to review these key factors at regular intervals while running your seafood business.
As a seafood farm owner, you just have to have a proper grasp of your competitive landscape if indeed you want to maximize profits and be in the industry.
It is important to note that medication/treatment and feed cost are some of the most important factors contributing to the overall cost of a seafood farm business and should be considered as a major factor when carrying out your costing and economic analysis.
Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. Basically, you should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement. If you are looking towards starting a seafood farming business, you would have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of a seafood farming business to buy.
Besides starting a seafood farming business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small-scale businesses which usually require detailed groundwork.
With seafood farming business, you should just try as much as possible to secure your business license, pool your startup capital, secure a good aquaculture farm in a good location, build business relationships with key stakeholders and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your seafood.
Please note that most of the big and successful seafood farms started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.
Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own seafood farm business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established seafood farms in your target market location. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on households, individuals and also small restaurants and hotels who need seafood.
Some other threats and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your seafood farm are global economic downturn, bad weather cum natural disasters (droughts, epidemics), unfavorable government policies and the arrival of a competitor (a seafood farm) within same location.
There is hardly anything you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.
Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When considering starting a standard and seafood farming business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow; some seafood farmers design their business and services for the regional market, while others for the national market and international market.
Generally, you have the option choosing a general partnership, limited liability company which is commonly called an LLC, or a sole proprietorship for your seafood farm business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale seafood farm especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital.
But if your intention is to grow the business and sell your seafood all across the United States of America, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships.
Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your seafood farm business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to study the various legal entities to use for your seafood farming business, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your seafood farm business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.
Choose a Catchy Business Name from the Ideas Below
Generally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents.
Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business. If you are considering starting your seafood farm business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Freshwater® Seafood Farms Ltd
- Allen White® Seafood Farms, LLC
- Tony Flint & Sons© Seafood Farms, Inc.
- Victoria Trent™ Seafood Shop Ltd.
- Moore Anderson® Seafood Processing and Packaging Company, LLC
- Light Ocean® Seafood Farms Ltd.
- Donald West® Seafood Farms, Inc.
- Nordic Group® Seafood Farms and Processing Plant, Inc.
- Teddy Graham® Seafood Farms, Inc.
- Tampa Bay© Seafood Farms, LLC.
Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.
Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start a Seafood farming business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Workers compensation
- Farm Equipment and Auto Insurance
- Commercial Agribusiness Insurance
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
You can contact the following leading insurance companies in the United States of America to purchase insurance for your Seafood farm;
- Allstate Insurance Group
- Liberty Mutual
- Progressive Insurance Group (PGR)
- Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)
- New York Life Insurance Company
- Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
- MassMutual (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company)
- Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own Seafood farming business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection / trademark because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
On the other hand, if you want to leverage on the business opportunities within the industry and also to protect your unique design, company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even operation concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.
Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Aside from your ability to farm seafood, professional certification is one reason why some seafood farmers stand out. If you want to make impact in the fish and seafood farms industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization.
Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in this competitive market. These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own seafood farms;
- ASC Certification
- Membership of Society of Aquaculture Professionals (SAP)
- Degree or Diploma in Fishery Science and related courses
Please note that the average local seafood farmer in suburbs in the United States do not have certifications and that does not in any way stop them from growing their seafood.
Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United States of America;
- Business and liability insurance
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Farm Partnership Agreement
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a standard seafood farming business can be capital intensive especially if you choose to launch a large seafood farm with the capacity to supply seafood beyond your immediate community. Securing a large aquatic land, building secured and conducive ponds, purchase of the first set of juvenile seafood and seafood farming tools/equipment are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital, but if you choose to start the business on a small scale, you may not need to go source for fund to finance the business.
No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business. Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your seafood farming business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for loan from your bank
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Starting a seafood farm comes with its own challenges; it is a business that cannot be started in any location of your choice. As a matter of fact, you will not be allowed to start a seafood farm in a residential estate in the United States of America. The only location you can be allowed to start a seafood farm is a farm land designated for such purposes, usually around coastal or swampy areas.
It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your seafood farming business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has a full grasp of the city and perhaps country you intend starting your seafood farm business.
Most importantly, before choosing a location for your seafood farm, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to start yours can’t be ruled out.
Which is why it is very important to gather as much facts and figures before choosing a location to set – up your own seafood farm. Having said that, these are some of the cities in the United States of America where you can locate your Seafood business;
- Newport, Rhode Island
- Long Beach, Washington
- Clearwater, Florida
- Portland, Maine
- Orange Beach, Alabama
- San Diego, California
- Kihei, Maui, Hawaii
- Provincetown, Massachusetts
- Carmel by the Sea, California
- Cape Coral, Florida
Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
When it comes to starting a standard seafood farming business, you will need to construct safe and standard ponds (indoors or outdoors), have supply of water, seafood harvesters, multi-functional pump and other seafood farming tools. These equipment can be purchased as fairly used if you have low budget.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an aquatic farm land for your seafood farm, the size of the seafood farm should determine your choice.
If you have enough capital to run a pretty large seafood farm, then you should consider the option of long lease or out rightly purchasing an aquatic farm land; when you lease, or purchase a farm land, you will be able to work with long – term planning, structuring and expansion.
As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, when it comes to starting a standard seafood farm business on a large scale, you would need the services of the following professionals; Chief Operating Officer (you can occupy this position), General Farm Manager, Accountant/Cashier, Sales and Marketing Executive, Field Employees, Cleaners, and Security Guards.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
When it comes to operational activities of a seafood farm, the process is simple and straight forward, and as a matter of fact, a seafood farm can successfully run on auto-pilot with little or no supervision from the owner.
When the ponds and the required facility has been put in place and the juvenile seafood placed inside, then every morning and evening and perhaps afternoon, the seafood are fed and once in a specific period, the water in the pond is changed. Once the seafood are matured, they are harvested with the aid of seafood harvesters and then sold to buyers or they are transported to farm markets or food hubs, grocery stores or to hotels and restaurants as requested.
It is important to state that even though the above stated is the ideal business process of a seafood farm, a seafood farm may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them good return on their services and investments.
Write a Marketing Plan Packed with Ideas & Strategies
As a seafood farmer, you have to prove that you have the capacity not only to manage a seafood farm, but also to supply seafood in commercial level on a consistent basis. So, if you have plans to start your own seafood farming business, it will pay you to first build your capacity before sourcing to supply seafood to larger hotels or food processing and packaging companies.
The fact that the entry barrier for starting a small – scale seafood farming business is low means that there is bound to be more players in the industry no matter the location you choose to start yours. In essence, you must come up with creativity and innovation if you must carve out a market for yourself within the available market in your community, city, state or country.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. This will help boost your chances in the market place when marketing your seafood. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your seafood farm and its produce;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to households, hotels, restaurants, food processing and packing companies that need steady supply of seafood, grocery stores and related businesses in the United States (if you are just starting out, you may want to concentrate on start-ups and smaller businesses)
- Promptness in bidding for seafood supply contracts et al
- Advertise your seafood farm in community-based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business and products on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your seafood farm
- Engage in direct marketing and sales
- Encourage the use of word-of-mouth marketing (referrals)
- Join local chambers of commerce and industry around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your products; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you
Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you sell your seafood at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your startup capital from sources that won’t put pressure on you or give you high interest rate. So also, when it comes to juvenile seafood supply and aquaculture farming equipment and tools, feed and medications, it is advisable that you also purchase them directly from the manufacturers or from wholesalers.
Another strategy that will help you sell your seafood at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your services.
You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers, it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives. So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.
Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The fish and seafood industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategies to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to create easier and cheaper ways to farm seafood on a commercial quantity.
In other to stay competitive in this industry, you must ensure that your seafoods are distributed and always available in outlets within your target market locations. The truth is that if there are fluctuations in the supply of your seafood, customers can choose to shift allegiance and settle for other options available.
Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.
If the quality of your products and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers coming back to purchase your products. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).
Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be.
One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your Seafood farming business;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and food related magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community – based events
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your seafood farming business
- Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- List your Seafood farming business in local directories / yellow pages
- Advertise your seafood farming business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your seafood farming business is located.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo.