Mistakes to avoid when building your meat processing business: Planning

This is the first installment in a series of posts about what to do and what definitely not to do when planning, constructing, opening and operating your small meat processing plant.  There are many errors some people make, and most will have to do with your specific business.  Hopefully these posts will help to reduce some of your headache, and remind you to take it slow and stay clearheaded.


5 Mistakes to avoid when planning your small meat processing plant

Take one step at a time

It can be overwhelming to plan and design a small plant.  But don't get crazy - the only way something like this will work is by taking it slow and steady.

Don't move the project forward for the sake of your timeline.  You must be critical of each step in the process and now is the time to get those third, fourth, and fifth opinions on your design and plans.  Make sure you're talking to someone who has actual experience in small processing.  If you sense that something needs to be changed, stop and change it.  You will be thankful later that you took the time to make improvements before moving forward.

Don't reinvent the wheel

Join associations, talk to people who have been in the business, don't think too hard about how you're going to take the world by storm.  Get the basics dialed first, then get creative.

There have been processing plants that have been successful for many, many years. There are others who have failed right from the moment the doors opened.  Talk with the ones who have been around a while - I'm talking 25, 30, 40 plus years - and see if you can find out why they're still there.  Obviously something that they're doing is working.

Surround yourself with experts

Then ignore them.  Partially.  Only take the advice that will work for you.  This can be a bit tricky.  There are a lot of people who have great advice, but you are the one who knows best what your market will respond positively to.  So don't take everyone and anyone's advice, instead weed out what will work for your customers and your business model.  When you are being bombarded by input, take a step back and listen to your gut.

Keep those experts on speed-dial, because chances are, if down the road you run into trouble they will have the ability to help you think of creative solutions.

Don't put the cart before the horse

Is there enough business for YEAR-ROUND slaughter?  What will you do if not?  Who told you that you should start a slaughterhouse anyway?  Was it over a bottle of bourbon at 2am?  These are questions that you should ask yourself before it's too late. Make triple sure you understand your customers and your customers' customers.  Do your due diligence and evaluate what the market truly needs when it comes to regional meat processing and production.

Stay flexible

Don't give up on your original vision, but don't be blind to changes in your market, or regulatory changes that will affect your plan.  Be flexible enough to adapt.  Do you need to look at a different way to handle your livestock?  Is your water system adequate?  I will have more tips on this stuff later, but keep it in mind from the very beginning - keep up with the industry and the market.