Do you want to start an oyster farm? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting an oyster farming business with NO money and no experience plus a sample oyster farming business plan template. There are a ton of business opportunities in the fish and seafood farming industry and oyster farming is one of them. Oyster is known as one of the world’s healthiest foods and it is eaten in all continents of the world.
Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it most desirable by those who are careful about their cholesterol intake. It is classified as a marine creature and it is easy to come by especially in coastal areas and the riverside.
Oyster farming is known to be a profitable business and has evolved from small scale to a global industry in most countries where it is carried out. Countries like Greece, Philippines, China, Japan, Thailand, Caribbean countries and even South American Countries have been farming oysters in large scales for a long time. united states isn’t far from the trade as there are a lot of people from the riverine areas whose profession is oyster farming.
If you are tinkering with delving into the sea foods business, the good news is that you can’t get it wrong with the oyster farming business. This is especially if you live in coastal areas. It is easy to start, cheap to maintain and it takes a short time to get a good return on your investment if you know the ropes.
Starting an oyster farming business comes with its own fair share of challenges, but that does not rule out the fact that it is indeed a profitable business venture. An aspiring entrepreneur can either choose to start an oyster farm on a small scale or on a large scale depending on their financial status.
So, if you are serious about starting your own oyster farming business, all you need do is to read this article and you will be well equipped.
20 Steps to Starting an Oyster Farming Business
1. Understand the Industry
Companies in this industry farm oyster and other aquatic creatures 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. Ideally, oyster farms require temperatures that are above 25º C during production season.
The Fish and Seafood Aquaculture industry that oyster farming business is a part of has experienced slow growth over the last half decade. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of industry revenue is derived from sales 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 a 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.
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. There is no single fish and seafood/oyster farm company that has dominate market share in the industry hence smaller fish and seafood/oyster farms business 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 (oyster farms inclusive) business 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 (oyster inclusive) in 2016. Oyster is amongst the popular forms of seafood eaten in the United States.
The report stated that they are also relatively easy and inexpensive to farm and their farming does little damage to the environment in which they are raised. They are primarily raised in Mississippi, Louisiana and other parts of the Deep South where they have been cultivated in farms since the 1960’s.
One thing is certain when it comes to seafood cum oyster farming, if you are able to conduct your market research and feasibility studies, you are more likely not going to struggle to sell your farm produce (oysters and other 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 oyster 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 own oyster farm in your compound if you live in a rural/farming community. All you need to do is to purchase the first set of oysters, purchase oyster farming tools and then build your ponds or create demarcation in lake or river around you.
Despite the fact that the oyster farm has been in existence since time immemorial, that does not in any way make the industry to be over saturated; oyster farmers are exploring new technology to continue to improve on the farming process. The fact that there is always a ready market for oysters and other seafood makes the business ever green.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who consume oysters and other seafood is not restricted to a group of people. People of different races and cultures consume oysters and other seafood hence the market is all encompassing.
So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your oyster farming business, then you should make it all encompassing. It should include households, hotels, restaurants and businesses that rely on supply of oysters and other seafood.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
There is no niche area in the oyster farming business, every player in the industry simply farms oysters and other seafood but some may decide to go into oyster processing and packaging as against selling directly to grocery stores or in a farm market.
So, if you are looking towards starting your own oyster farming business, then you should clearly define your market so that you will be able to know how to get oyster and other seafood to them.
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 oyster farms business is not an exemption.
The level of competition in the fish and seafood farms industry cum oyster farming to some extent depends largely on the location of the business and of course the capacity of your oyster farm. If you can successfully add oyster and seafood processing and packaging to your oyster farming business, you are likely going to experience little or no competition.
For instance, if you are the only oyster farm in your location that is into oyster and other seafood 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 oyster and seafood farms industry depends on the scale of your oyster farms.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
These are some of the leading oyster and seafood farms in the United States of America and in 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 conducting costing and economic analysis for your oyster and 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 would have to continue to review these key factors at regular intervals while running your oyster and seafood farm business. As an oyster and 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 front-line of the industry.
It is important to note that medication/treatment and feeds cost is one of the most important factors contributing to the overall cost of an oyster and seafood farm business and should be considered as a major factor when carrying out your costing and economic analysis.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
If you are looking towards starting an oyster and seafood farm, you would have to start from the very scratch simply because you can hardly get a franchise of an oyster and seafood farm to buy. It is a business that is open to all and sundry.
Besides starting an oyster and seafood farm from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small scale businesses which usually require detailed groundwork before launching the business. With oyster and seafood farm, you should just try as much as possible to secure your business license, pool your startup capital/working capital, secure a good aquaculture farm land in a good location, build business relationship with key stakeholders and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your oysters and seafood that are put up for sale.
Please note that most of the big and successful oyster and seafood farms and players in the fish and seafood farms industry started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own oyster and seafood farm business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established oyster and 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 supply of oysters and other seafood from oyster and seafood farm.
Some other threats and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your own oyster and seafood farm business are global economic downturn that can impact negatively on household spending, bad weather cum natural disasters (draughts, epidemics), unfavorable government policies and the arrival of a competitor (an oyster farm or even fish and seafood farm that are also into farming oysters) within same location. There is hardly anything you can do as regards this threats and challenges other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When considering starting a standard oyster and seafood farming business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow.
Generally, you have the option of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability company which is commonly called an LLC, or a sole proprietorship for an oyster and seafood farm business. If your intention is to grow the business and sell your oysters and other 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 oyster and seafood farm business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to critically study the various legal entity to use for your oyster and 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 an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
If you are considering starting your own oyster and seafood farm business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Zeb Blair Oyster Farms Ltd
- Cobra Lane Seafood Farms, LLC
- Tony Flint & Sons Seafood, Inc.
- Victor Vance Seafood Farms Ltd.
- Moore Liverpool Oyster Farms, LLC
- Evergreen Oyster Farms Ltd.
- Donald West Seafood Farms, Inc.
- Nordic Group Seafood Farms, Inc.
- Emmanuel San Diego Seafood Farms, Inc.
- Tampa Bay Oyster Farms, LLC.
9. 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 policy covers 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 oyster and seafood farm business.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own oyster and seafood farm business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Animal Mortality Insurance
- Farm Equipment and Auto Insurance
- Commercial Agribusiness Insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own an oyster and seafood farm business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successful run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own oyster and seafood farm business;
- ASC Certification
- Membership of Society of Aquaculture Professionals (SAP)
- Degree or Diploma in Fishery Science and related courses
Please note that the average local oyster and seafood farmers in suburbs in the United States do not have certifications and that does not in any way stop them from growing their oyster and seafood farms to enviable heights.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentation. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catches 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 oyster and seafood farming business in the United States of America;
- Business and liability insurance
- Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration for distribution truck
- Appropriate driver’s licenses for drivers
- Assistant’s licenses for assistants
- Health inspection Certificate
- Proof of ownership, proper identification and vehicle license
- Tax Payer’s ID
- Fire certificate
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Employee’s Handbook
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Farm Partnership Agreement
- Insurance Policy
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a standard and well – equipped oyster and seafood farming business can be capital intensive especially if you choose to launch a large oyster and seafood farm with the capacity to supply oyster and other seafood beyond your immediate community.
Securing a large aquatic farm land, building well – secured and conducive ponds, purchase of the first set of juvenile oysters and oyster 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 have the need to go source for fund to finance the business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your oyster and seafood farming business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell of shares to interested investors
- Applying for loan from your bank/banks
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from government, donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Starting a business such as oyster and 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 an oyster and seafood farm in a residential estate in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. The only location you can be allowed to start an oyster and seafood farm is a farm land designated for oyster and seafood farms and it is usually around coastal or swampy areas.
Before choosing a location for your oyster and seafood farm, ensure that you first conduct 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. This is why it is very important to gather as much facts and figures before choosing a location to setup your own oyster and seafood farm.
These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your oyster and seafood farm;
- The demography of the location
- The demand for oyster and other seafood in the location
- The purchasing power of the residents of the location
- Accessibility to the location
- The number of oyster and seafood farms and related aquaculture businesses that in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community/state
- Traffic, parking and security et al
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
When it comes to starting a standard oyster and seafood farm business, you will need to construct safe and standard ponds (indoors or outdoors) and ensure adequate supply of water, purchase oyster and seafood harvesters, multi-functional oyster and seafood pump and other oyster and seafood farming tools. This equipment can be purchased as fairly used if you are on low budget.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an aquatic farm land for your oyster and seafood farm, the size of the oyster and seafood farm you want to own, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a pretty large and well – equipped oyster and seafood farm, then you should consider the option of long lease or out rightly purchasing an aquatic farm land.
As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, when it comes to starting a standard oyster and 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.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to effectively run a medium scale but standard oyster and seafood farming business. Please note that there will be times when you are expected to go out of your way to hire experts to help you handle some job function.
If you are just starting out you may not have the financial capacity or required business structure to retain all the professionals that are expected to work with you which is why you should make plans to partner with vet clinics around you.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
When it comes to operational activities of an oyster and seafood farm, the process is simple and straight forward, and as a matter of fact, an oyster and seafood farm can successfully run on auto – pilot with little or no supervision from the owner.
Basically, when the ponds and the required facility has been put in place and the juvenile oysters and other seafood are placed inside, then every morning and evening and perhaps afternoon, the oyster and seafood are fed and once in a specific period, the water in the pond is changed.
Once the oysters and seafood are matured, they are harvested with the aid of oyster and seafood harvesters and then sold to buyers or they are transported to farm markets or to hotels and restaurants et al as requested.
It is important to state that even though the above stated is the ideal business process of an oyster and seafood farm, an oyster and seafood farm may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them good return on their services and investments.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
As an oyster and seafood farmer, you would have to prove that you have the capacity to not only manage an oyster and seafood farm, but to also supply oysters and other seafood in commercial level on a consistent basis. So, if you have plans to start your own oyster and seafood farming business, it will pay you to first build your capacity before sourcing to supply oysters and other seafood to larger hotels or food processing and packaging companies who require oysters and other seafood from oyster and seafood farms.
The fact that the entry barrier for starting a small scale oyster and 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 innovations 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 and strategies for your oyster and seafood farming business, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company’s profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state in practical terms what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to the industry you intend starting your business. This will help boost your chances in the market place when marketing your oysters and other seafood business.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your oyster and 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 oysters and other seafood, groceries stores and related businesses in the United States (if you are just starting out, you may want to concentrate on startups and smaller businesses)
- Promptness in bidding for oyster and other seafood supply contracts et al
- Open your oyster and seafood farm with a party so as to capture the attention of residents who are your first targets
- Engage in roadshow in targeted communities from time to time to sell your oysters and other seafood
- Advertise your oyster and 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 oyster and seafood farm
- Engage in direct marketing and sales
- Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business
- 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
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you sell your oysters and other 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 oyster and other 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 oysters and other seafood at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, 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.
18. 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 strategy 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 oysters and other seafood on a commercial quantity.
In other to stay competitive in this industry, you must ensure that your oysters and other seafood are distributed and always available in outlets within your target market. The truth is that if there are fluctuations in the supply of your oysters and other seafood, customers can choose to shift allegiance and settle for other options available.
19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your oyster and seafood farming business;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community based events/programs
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your business
- Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Engage in roadshow from time to time in targeted neighborhoods
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- Contact households, hotels, restaurants, food processing and packaging companies that need regular supply of oysters and other seafood, groceries stores and related businesses in your target areas by calling them up and informing them of your oyster and seafood farm
- List your oyster and seafood farm in local directories/yellow pages
- Advertise your oyster and seafood farm in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks are well branded with your company logo et al.
20. Create a Suppliers/Distribution Network
Oyster and seafood farming business requires that you have a business network that will enable you supply your oysters and other seafood to customers as soon as they are due for harvest. With that, you will be able to effectively run the business and make good profits out of it.
One of the major challenges that farmers have is the inability to sell their farm produce after harvest. So, all you have to do is to ensure that you create reliable suppliers and distribution network for your oysters and other seafood. Partner with hotels, seafood merchandizers, restaurants, seafood processing and packing companies and other key players in the industry.
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