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Commercial fishermen needed to test-drive FishBizPlan planning tool

By: Dave Burrage / Published: Nov 21,  2014

Most folks don’t think of it this way, but if you own and operate a commercial fishing boat, you are essentially running a small business. There are numerous planning tools designed for small-business owners, but most fall short when trying to address the somewhat unique structure of fishing operations. If you participated in the most recent Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, chances are you got a taste of business planning using the on-line planning tool called “AgPlan.” This tool was originally designed for land-based agricultural operations and was modified to a limited extent so that it could be used by fishermen in the TAA program.

A good business plan enables you to take “the 30,000-foot view” of all the various elements of your business. It allows you to see how you compare to others in your fishery. It also allows you to see beforehand how changes like entering a new fishery or upgrading equipment will affect your bottom line. If you need to borrow money, lenders are going to ask for your business plan and supporting documentation. Think of your business plan as a “road map” to where you want to be five or 10 years down the road.

I am currently working with a nationwide group representing a broad spectrum of fisheries and fishermen to develop a business planning tool specifically for the commercial fishing industry. We have developed a prototype called “FishBizPlan,” and I am looking for six people in this region to give it a try and provide feedback.

 What’s in it for you? Well, besides having a bonafide business plan when you complete the process, a financial planner will be available to help you. If you had to pay for this type of advice in the private sector, it would cost you upwards of $1,000. We are providing this service for free! If you are interested in this opportunity, give me a call at (228) 546-1028 or shoot me an e-mail: daveb@ext.msstate.edu. First come, first served!

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