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Getting Started: Do not give up on the dream - plans for the future and how to achieve them

The third and final installment of Chris Acaster’s story - a new entrant who had no farm backing. Chris spoke to Getting Started about his plans for the future and how he intends to achieve his goals.
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Part 3 of Chris Acaster's story - where he is now and his plans for the future @AAFarmServices #GetIn2Ag

More excellent tips on how to enter and survive the farming industry from Chris at @AAFarm Services #GetIn2Ag

In part one, we spoke to Chris Acaster about his background and why he decided to enter into the farming industry and followed this up with part two, focusing on the route Chris took to enter the industry.




Now working in partnership with his brother, Mark, at A&A (Acaster and Acaster) Farm Services, focusing on cross compliance and contracting, Chris started at the bottom and worked his way up.


We spoke to Chris about his plans for expanding the business in the future and how he plans on achieving these goals.


Q: What are you working on now?

A: I started out primarily doing the consultancy work and that now forms the main winter time occupation along with trading straw.


In spring we start contract work, planting potatoes and then we start chopping grass from early May through untill harvest when we get our straw stored.


We go back harvesting spuds in the autumn and planting wheat and grass.


There is obviously reseeding and spraying work littered throughout the year, but as a general rule, if it is cold and wet outside, we are inside the office or workshop. If the weather is fit for us to be out, then we are out somewhere.


It doesn't matter whether it's day or night you have to be ready to go all round the clock in this game.



Q: What is your plan for the future?

A: In the future we will be expanding all areas of the business.


As part of delivering a complete nutrient planning service for manures, slurries and granular fertiliser, we are looking to provide a one stop shop for dealing with this practically, efficiently, and supplying the necessary paperwork so the farmer doesn't have any concerns regarding the rules and calculations.


If all goes to plan, this service should be online in the next 12 months.


We have struggled with people taking us seriously. It's a common problem that many companies expand faster than they can budget and consequentially go bust. So for us it is a fine line between growing quickly enough to provide the services, but this is made extra tricky by the lack of confidence from the public, resulting in fewer orders and a lower income.


We believe managing finance is of the utmost important.


Getting deep in repayments every month can sink you if your clients don't pay as quick as you would like.


The forage harvesting is our main focus at present. Poor dairy, beef and sheep prices have caused farmers to reassess their spending choices and providing a more cost effective solution is the one selling point that cannot be ignored in the present climate.


It's not about undercutting the competitors, it is providing a better solution to the client.


To read about Kayleigh Jones and how she followed her dream and began farming at 28, click here...


Q: How do you intend on reaching these future goals?

Q: How do you intend on reaching these future goals?

A: We have recently started a partnership arrangement which enables us to provide more services than we can presently.This has made a significant impact for both sides.


The basic concept is you share your customer base with a competitor, which most business wouldn't dare risk. But as we each have our own unique services and overlap minimally, this system works really well for us.


They provide the extra muscle when we are short handed and it allows us to take on bigger contracts than a one man band could ever do.


It has proved more successful for us having this arrangement than trying to find a skilled labour when you need one.


We still retain our independence as a brand, but partnership working is a good option provided both parties bring something to the table.


We have multiple partnerships varying from swapping a few favours to machinery sharing and utilising shed space.

Chris' top tips for starting up a farming business


  • Equipment: If you are investing in equipment make sure it is right for you and your customers needs.

    Always buy the best machine - cheap and cheerful usually has little resale value and are prone to breaking down, which is added cost and a real headache you don't need. Quality machinery is always sought after.

  • Loans: Do not be scared of dealing with the banks and loans.

    They are a useful, if expensive, tool. Some items you cannot save up for and building up a trust based relationship with the bank is good practice.

  • Be friendly: Be friendly with everyone you meet as further down the line they may be able to help you out.

  • Listen: Listen to your clients. Identifying a problem they are experiencing is a stepping stone to adding a new service you may be able to provide. Don't be short on time with them. Pop in from now and again and be generous with your time.

  • Money: Keep track of your money and be mindful of when you have to pay for things in order to avoid a cashflow crisis. Get a good overdraft and get to know your local bank manager.

    Sage accounts make it easy for us to do, but find someone who knows what they are doing and take the time to do it with them and learn how to keep track of your costs and income.
  • Good job: Always do a good job, even if it costs you your profitability by something going wrong. If you pull out there is no going back and your reputation can suffer.
  • Spread the risk: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. It is a fact of life- machines break, livestock drop dead, people let you down, prices fluctuate from profit to bankruptcy in the blink of an eye.

    Spread the risk and do different things then you have a change of riding the storms of trading.
  • Do not give up on your dream: We dreamt of doing this as young lads many years ago. If you tell yourself you really want to do something you can do anything - just don't give up.

    Every problem has a solution, and every dog has it's day. There's always a way to do something even if it seems impossible.

    Listen to what those around you say but always make up your own mind.

    Ask as many people for advice as possible, and don't believe anyone that tells you it's not possible...we're living proof that it really is.


Getting Started

Chris got in touch with us here at Getting Started via Twitter: If you have something to say, say it with Getting Started!


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