Exploring the business model trends for agri-food

The food we eat is one of the most important aspects of our lives, besides clear water to drink. 

In 2020, there are an increasing number of trents which we see in the agrifood market place which are coming together and making us rethink the consumption model for meat and more importantly the entire diet humans consume on the planet. Let’s highlight a few.

The science behind the types of food we need is changing as we see the standard “post second world war” diet increasingly puts populations into obesity and early death. The understanding of macro and micro nutrients and what a balanced diet is has led to less meat consumption and also the rise of veganism throughout the western world(veganuary). The amount of information (some mis-information) available on good food diets (also sustainable consumption) is rising which allows people to research their own, create personal plans and develop better understandings, leading to a more diverse range of food consumption patterns.

The welfare of animals requirements is growing as consumers demand better, which is driving up costs, the use of antibiotics and larger farms to maintain profitability. Biosecurity is an issue as Swine Flu, Bird Flu, SARs and Covid-19 all shown this global issue is not going away, so further research and understanding to mandate our food security is needed. The processing of meat is a major issue and the WHO has declared processed and cooked meats a carcinogen. 

The relationship between land, its value, productivity and product type is reducing as technology allows these connections to be removed. The cost of labour is increasing, costs of health and safety in the (farm) workplace and the continued mechanisation, automation and ultimately robotization/AI replacement is increasing at a faster and faster pace.

The percentage cost of food per household has over the last 50 years gone down, so consumers are increasingly looking for provenance of their food and understanding the benefits of finding diverse and local sources, through Veg and Meat Box schemes and buying directly. These short supply chains have proved more resilient and sustainable and technologies such as BlockChain, E-payments and direct messaging have proven themselves.

The cost of carbon used in the production of food has come into public sectiny. Many countries require and industries have to account for the complete lifecycle of their products. Therefore within the agri-food sector this would then bring in creation, processing, transport, packaging and waste disposal which would currently make it unsustainable.

The western world subsidises food through (In the UK its currently £3.4bn a year through CAP, which is around £56 per person per year which no other industry sector gets (pre Covid-19)) based on a post second world war model. This is based on the amount of land and food groups, which is a broken link to production already highlighted.

The connection between farms and the environment is currently being explored as the next subside system(post-Brexit). The rural environment has been created by our farming methods and food requirements. These food requirements have changed and are changing fast so will result in changes to the rural landscape. The public’s perception and requirement of the rural landscape is under researched (are they happy with greenhouses the size of a small town or forests surrounding all villages. The options to decrease the environmental impact of the populations activities and their acceptance public debate.

These trends are making the very business model of food development and consumption change very quickly and it’s important we discuss them as a community.

Blog Skills Development

What entrepreneurship capital is driven from your economic activity?

The impact of any economic activity on the individual should be to develop a ‘sustainable livelihood’ or value. This is measured through the resources which are available to that person, in terms of capital. Here we define capital as a resource which can be stored, held or used for the benefit of the entrepreneur.A number of academic papers have discussed what forms of capital should be measured and how this should be analysed (Scoones, 1998; Berkes &  Folke, 1992; Bebbington, 1999) especially when analysing sustainable rural businesses. The impact of the economic activity should therefore be measured by evaluating the development of the entrepreneurs’ capital, based on the eight forms of capital:

  1. Cultural – Cultural capital functions as a social-relation within an economy of practices (system of exchange), and comprises all of the material and symbolic goods, without distinction, that society considers rare and worth seeking.
  2. Experiential (Human) – We accumulate experiential capital through actually organizing a project or solving problems and developing solutions. 
  3. Financial – Money, currencies, securities and other instruments of the financial system
  4. Intellectual – The value of a company or organization’s employee knowledge or any proprietary information that may provide the business or entrepreneur with a competitive advantage
  5. Material – Non-living physical objects form material capital
  6. Natural – Made up of the world’s stock of natural resources, which includes geology, soils, air, water and all living organisms
  7. Social – The networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society
  8. Spiritual – Practices of personal values, religion, spirituality, or other means of connection to self and universe.

Entrepreneurial activity may increase one or more of these capitals depending on the entrepreneur, the type of business and the stage of the business. This connection to capital also connects with Ahmad & Hoffman (2008) who specify the ecosystem of entrepreneurship as the combination of three factors: opportunities, skilled people and resources. These factors can be driven from our Capitals. Skilled People is intellectual capital. Entrepreneurial opportunity from our social and spiritual capital. 

I think we should look at this set of capitals at both a personal, business and community level, its about a set of ecosystems. At any level not all of the capitals have to be used (A Buddhist priest on a personal level may never use Financial capital, An online blogger on a business level may never use Natural capital, A town council may never use the Spiritual capital).

Each entrepreneur has a unique set of capitals, which have specific generic root causes from the entrepreneur themselves, the business industry, the addressed market and locality ecosystem they are active. The skill is understanding which and a what level is required to lead a successful business at what stage.

Blog Skills Development

Do you know your Exit Strategy?

You will need to ensure you are motivated to exit the business and that means understand the path for your exit strategy. In every sense you must learn from the exit from your business and the experience should motivate you to build a new enterprise which is more amazing and motivated that this. The five common Exit Strategies are:

Initial Public Offering

The stock market offers you the opportunity to increase the capital available to the business, the money invested and also the rewards available to you. The motivation for being independent will have to reduce as shareholders and accountability move into play.


When you have created a truly unique, thriving and attractive business, it will be becoming an appealing proposition for other businesses. When they offer you the large sum of money for your business, what motivates you to say ‘Yes’? What will you do everyday when you no longer have your business to run? The opportunities are then truly amazing and you can become a member of ‘Serial Entrepreneurs’ club.


Walking along any footpath can be uneasy and the same is true about business. The vast majority of entrepreneurs have a company liquidation in there bag, an experience they will never forget, an event which created some the best lessons they have ever learnt. No expects you to walk straight away, so why do you expect to be able to manage a business from day one without making mistakes. This should be expected, however it is in the learning about business, enterprise and yourself which you can create a truly amazing and vibrant business next time around.

Sell to another Entrepreneur

One of my favour saying is that “People buy from people who are like them”. This is the case from buying your newspaper to buying a company. Entrepreneurs look for opportunities and therefore within your network you will know people who want to buy and run your company better and pay you for the chance.


This option which many entrepreneurs follow is to become a shareholder which then provides revenue for the rest of their lives (e.g. Bill Gates). In some cases the shareholder provides revenue for many generations to come, such as the Guinness family. This exit requires you to create a good team around you who are motivated to continue to move the business forward.

So before you start out on your venture, think about your exit strategy and  what you will need the business to look like for you to achieve your goal.


Blog Enterprise Education Skills Development

The five types of student entrepreneur

After working with over 20,000 students in the last ten years, I have started to stereotype those coming through into five simple student entrepreneur categories. There is no real theory and a great amount of research here, but I just wanted to share my thoughts and observations on these student entrepreneurs.


This group of people want to mega rich, famous and of course a owner of a super big business. They just want it all! Yet hard work, planning and dedication to entrepreneurship is not at the core of their motivations. They sometimes do start businesses, normally with co-founders who do all the work, while they talk about their business, the people they know and the mega plans they have.

Pros : Great talker who other may believe
Cons : Lacks hard work and dedication


Staying the same is not an option, so these people think of distributive technology, business models and taking all the biggest businesses, traditional methods and societies. They know that they will succeed as its only there ability to change the world that will save it.

Pros : Out of the box thinking
Cons : Others don’t take them seriously, just too radical

Social Entrepreneur

This group not only want to start a business but one that helps others. They have great amounts of passion, dedication and drive to see this business idea into a fully developed business. These people understand the need to develop others, work in teams and share the value of their business with as many people as possible.

Pros : A Team player
Cons : Takes too long as brings too many people with them


The richest people are Geeks, so why not start the the next Microsoft, Apple or Facebook. These people can make technology work for them and create small dynamic businesses which engage users throughout the world in their dream creation.

Pros : Easy to start boot strapped business
Cons : Lacks people skills to engage others


This group just get on with it, never thinking for one moment they can’t. What they lack in skills, knowledge and network, they balance with the shear determination and brut force. They are the bull in the china shop style of entrepreneurship.

Pros : Self belief and determination to make it a success
Cons : Lacks style and skills which makes others believe

As with all people and businesses it about having the team, a set of skills and maybe every business should have a mix of these.


So which type of student entrepreneur are you?


6 Core Values of an Entrepreneur

Every entrepreneur should have a mantra, a code by which they conduct business and here we set out our “core values” of an Entrepreneur. Its so important to believe in what you are doing and set your path using values which others also work with.


The success of an entrepreneur is largely due to the partnerships they forge. The intellectual capital and passion entrepreneurs display on a daily basis are key drivers in achieving their partnerships with employees, customers and other businesses. They highly value and respect the people who make up their company and the commitment to excellence. Recruiting, training, and retaining quality people are fundamental objectives an Entrepreneurs’ success.

Personal Integrity

Entrepreneurs conduct all matters of business with integrity. Entrepreneurs proudly uphold the values of honesty, truthfulness and sincerity, while remaining fair and ethical in even the most difficult situations.  Entrepreneurs seek to constantly maintain a professional demeanour despite facing critical decisions while conducting business. The time and effort put into every project is true to their mission of delivering superior results in a professional manner.


Entrepreneurs know in every marketplace, innovative ideas, concepts, and processes are essential to the continued success of any company. Entrepreneurs endeavour to create value, deliver results, and continuously improve all elements of both their business and those of their customers. Entrepreneurs aim to be creative, effective, and efficient within their company to help create inspired, visionary solutions for our business partners.


Entrepreneurs firmly believes that a strong moral code is a key component towards earning trust in their business, both internally and externally. They strive for all aspects of their company such as people, ideals, functions, and outputs to uphold the highest possible moral competency and responsibility. Entrepreneurs are steadfast in practicing and observing the ethical and moral principles.


Trust is one of the foundation stones of being an Entrepreneurs. It begins with their co-founder, investors, employees and depends on the reliance, partnerships, and successes they share with customers. Trust between our company and customers manifests itself through common goals, respect, and fulfilment of our commitments. Due to the trust they build, both with employees and customers they can not rest easy knowing they have not meet  all of their needs.


Quality is an underlying trait of Entrepreneurs that touches all aspects of their business. The quality of they people and excellence of their operations lead to distinctive outputs for their customers. Quality is achieved through passion, leadership, education, empowerment, responsibility and accountability. These are virtues Entrepreneurs champion  and recognise in the activities of their company.


Business models and why they are important

Business Modelling
One of the critical parts of starting a business is the stage right after coming up with the idea, ideation. This next stage, which I call “Modelling” within the business startup process is the most critical. 
The first part of it is about self reflection and understanding who we are and what we want this from venture. As most startup have limited resources, the nascent entrepreneur needs to look into their strengths and understand how these can be used for advantage and also design a business which does not allow their weakness to dominate the outcome of the venture.

This is normally done by thinking about the available money, people and time, in relationship with the desired outcomes or strategy of the venture. This we thing about as a business model. 
The definition of a business model is: 

A business model is a recipe of how a venture creates, delivers, and captures value from a customer. 

The right business model reduces the risks associated to a manageable level which enables the nascent entrepreneurs to make the business fly.

The format for the business model must reflect its role in the strategic planning process. A business model is a tool that serves a specific purpose within this startup planning process.  

The traditional Business Model Canvas one created by Alexander Osterwalder and referred to as the Business Model Canvas is not enough to develop the nascent entrepreneurs business model and therefore I have developed the Startup Business Model Canvas.
The role of the canvas is one of facilitating input, understanding of cause/effect linkage, and commitment to the ultimate strategic choices and the best way to implement this is through a visual model. 


Selecting your Startup cloud services

When selecting a service to support your foundation of a startup, then it has to be cloud based.

Some call it Software as a Service (SAAS) which normally means the software runs on the internet and stores the files on the internet. This way you don’t lose them. Sometimes its called cloud because its running in the cloud, i.e. somewhere on the internet. 
The common element to all these is that then mostly start using a freemium business model, meaning it starts off free and then you start paying once you hit a certain usage or time limit. This is ideal for a startup as it you business grows then normally there is some cash in the business to pay this later on.
The best thing about cloud is its easy to install and you alway have the latest software, service and availability.
The next question is what services do you need?

Cloud Storage

Storage Its doesn’t matter what business you have, you will end up making some files. These could be letters, spreadsheets or marketing material, but need keeping so you can use them and share them as required.
The current pack leaders are:

* Google Drive: 15GB free.

* Box: 10GB free.

* OneDrive: 5GB free (1TB for students)

* iCloud: 5GB free.

* Dropbox: 2GB free, plus up to 16GB extra.

I have used all of these and don’t have a preference, but the important factors are

  • Being able to use on any device from anywhere
  • Automatically loads and syncs 


Its the communication mode of choice for business as it provides a scalable and traceable form which works asynchronous, so that you don’t have to response within seconds. Again start with one free service and then scale-up as required.

* Gmail, the default free email service from Google

* Outlook, from Microsoft


* Zoho



Once you have a team, then messaging is the most important service.  These vary and the one you select will be based on the type of business and the needs of the team. I have selected seven here to think about:
* Slack for a chat powered workplace

* Twist for threaded conversation-centric chat

* Microsoft Teams for discussions about documents and meetings

* Google Hangouts Chat for following up on conversations

* Flock for making decisions in chat

Project Planning

While messaging can do so much, at some point you will need to get everyone on a plan with goals and KPIs to ensure we are all moving in the same direction at the same speed. 

* Basecamp. …

* …

* Wrike. …

* Asana. …

* Podio. …

* Project Insight. …

Accounting Solutions

Best accounting software for startups

1. Sighted. Sighted provides a free online invoicing software, with added expense tracking designed for startups and freelancers. …

2. FreeAgent. FreeAgent is an accounting app that offers standout invoicing and expense tracking for small businesses. …

3. LessAccounting. …

4. KashFlow. …

5. QuickBooks Online. …

6. Sage One Accounting.


What is ideation, the business idea generation process?

 Ideation is the systematic process of generating design ideas, developing idea variations, and identifying good ideas that point to promising venture creation.

Every business idea has to start somewhere

The Ideation process lies at the centre of the business startup process where entrepreneurs invest time in design thinking and connecting data sources to opportunities for innovation.Startup Ideation is about generating, developing, and evaluating ideas for launching innovative and viable new ventures.

The intention of Startup Ideation is to provide entrepreneurs with the chance to identify possible opportunities for their entrepreneurial pursuit. There are two types of entrepreneurs – those that have a myriad of business ideas but can’t pick one to run with and those that are aspiring entrepreneurs that are bright and enthusiastic but can’t come up with an idea. Startup Ideation will help aspiring entrepreneurs with idea generation.The ideation process can be split into four phases:

Ideation is a process

Ideation is the systematic process of generating design ideas, developing idea variations, and identifying good ideas that point to promising venture creation. The Ideation process lies at the centre of the business startup process where entrepreneurs invest time in design thinking and connecting data sources to opportunities for innovation.Startup Ideation is about generating, developing, and evaluating ideas for launching innovative and viable new ventures.

The intention of Startup Ideation is to provide entrepreneurs with the chance to identify possible opportunities for their entrepreneurial pursuit. There are two types of entrepreneurs – those that have a myriad of business ideas but can’t pick one to run with and those that are aspiring entrepreneurs that are bright and enthusiastic but can’t come up with an idea. Startup Ideation will help aspiring entrepreneurs with idea generation.The ideation process can be split into four phases:

Four Step Process for Ideation

  1. Opportunity Recognition
    1. Clarify the problem: What do we know? What don’t we know? What information is needed to help solve the problem? 
    2. Define the problem: What are our needs? 
    3. Force field analysis: Use this tool to help make decisions. 
    4. Problem Statement: Can we develop one sentence which defines the problem? 
    5. Adjacent Solutions: Who else have solve this problem or a problem like this? What other systems that attempt to solve our problem or inspire us with their design or functionality?
  2. Idea Generation: 
  3. Idea Selection and Evaluation: Picking the best ideas starts much before the beginning of the ideation process. It is essential that you fix the criteria by which the ideas are to be assessed, who would be responsible for evaluating the ideas, and how the top ideas would be given to the concerned internal teams for further assessment or execution. A proper selection process begins with the use of tags or labels to arrange the ideas into meaningful clusters.
  4. Idea Communication: The success of implementation is dependent on an organization’s ability to choose the top ideas and take action based on them. It also depends on the organization having appropriate workflows in place so that the right groups take part at the appropriate time in the three steps of the ideation process.

8 factors which control productivity

The productivity of a business is controlled by a number of factors and as entrepreneurs we need to understand these factors to ensure we have sustainable businesses. So what do we mean by productivity?

Productivity is very simply defined as the ratio between output and input. Therefore increasing productivity means greater efficiency in producing output of goods and services from labour, capital, materials and any other necessary inputs.

It’s more important metric than just measuring this ratio, as it provides a benchmark by which you can measure nations, regions, industries and and most importantly for us entrepreneurs, businesses. Businesses which have higher productivity are more sustainable and therefore employees have safer jobs, paying more taxes and enable stable economic structures surrounding these businesses.

So when I review the literature on productivity I have found a number of factors which control productivity, we can put these down to eight controlling factors, In alphabetical order:

  1. Finance
  2. Industry & Market
  3. International Trade
  4. Management
  5. People
  6. Place
  7. Processes
  8. Technology


The financial capital structure of a business dictates the productivity of the business.  Managers are instructed to maximize shareholders benefits and if this requires short-term (annual) rewards then this may not beneficial for the longer term productivity aims. Hill, C. W., & Snell, S. A. (1989) found that businesses with one or more of the following; a diversification strategy, R&D expenditure, capital intensity and stock concentration were all important financial factors in a business productivity.  At a national level Guariglia, A., & Santos-Paulino, A. U. (2008) found that national GDP per capita and national investment generally exert a positive and significant effect on business productivity.

Industry & Market

The level of productivity is related to the industry as some industries are highly automated whilst others are still manual handmade.  It’s also dictated by the market, some customers require personalised service while others want fully online and automated. One example is holidays, some people want book online without ever talking to a person from that company whilst others require a home visit and discussion of every aspect of the holiday.

The OECD provides a detailed list of productivity data sets whilst the UK provides this, and many other countries do the same.

International Trade

Trade increases productivity. Badinger, H., & Breuss, F. (2008) found an increase in the export ratio of a manufacturing business by one percentage point increases productivity by 0.6 percent on average. To be able to export your products or services a business should be of a comparable price and quality and therefore productivity. Export focused businesses have therefore higher productivity Guariglia, A., & Santos-Paulino, A. U. (2008).


A number of these factors requires good management and leadership. However, a considerable amount of research has consistently found that use of effective human resource management practices enhances firm performance. Specifically, extensive recruitment, selection, and training procedures; formal information sharing, attitude assessment, job design, grievance procedures, and labour-management participation programs; and performance appraisal, promotion, and incentive compensation systems that recognize and reward employee merit have all been widely linked with valued firm-level outcomes. Huselid, M. A. (1995) and others have argued that the use of these practices will result in greater business performance, independent of the industry and business size.


Bakker (2014) demonstrated that to ensure a knowledge worker is optimally productive and happy, it is important that he or she can attain personal objectives and that facilities and services fit with personal needs. Bailey (1993) noted that the contribution of even a highly skilled and motivated workforce will be limited if jobs are structured, or programmed, in such a way that employees, who presumably know their work better than anyone else, do not have the opportunity to use their skillset. Most academic frameworks present variables including buildings and facilities, work processes, organisational characteristics, personal characteristics and the external context may have an impact on labour productivity (Clements-Croome, 2000; Van der Voordt, 2003; Batenburg and Van der Voordt, 2008; Mawson, 2002; Haynes, 2007).


Especially within the service industry, location is one of the most important factors. The best coffee in the world may be served in Seattle but living in Cirencester doesn’t allow me to get my daily fix from there. However, the competitive environment in these two places will be different and therefore I would guess the productivity of a coffee shop in Seattle will have to be higher than that in Cirencester. (Due to taxes, real estate costs, staffing, ..etc)

We should also take into consideration business clusters, which also draws in the people and process factors. Business which form clusters will end up employing the same staff over time and therefore develop similar processes. Clusters are concentrations of highly specialized skills and knowledge, institutions, rivals, related businesses, and sophisticated customers in a particular nation or region. Proximity in geographic, cultural, and institutional terms allows special access, special relationships, better information, powerful incentives, and other advantages in productivity and productivity growth that are difficult to tap from a distance. As a result, in a cluster, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Each location has a unique set of taxes, international trade arrangements and laws which dictate the level of productivity. Some industries are protected by law and therefore can operate with lower or higher productivity.


The first set of innovation around productivity was designing processes to improve productivity by simplifying the task, for example Ford’s production line and McDonald’s restaurant. Process engineering focuses on the design, operation, control, optimization and intensification of processes. In a knowledge economy this is typically information and data through electronic means. Data like money is not worth anything if it is not used or traded, also like money needs to be kept secure and have some form of traceability.


In traditional manufacturing (Think car manufacturing) the first stage of increasing productivity was designing the processes so that a person could do a smaller task faster, then using a machine to semi-automate the task and finally reducing the role of the person down to supervision and maintenance.  

The computer has increased the productivity of many increases, most notable the Banking which now allow us access to our money from our phones, no longer having to go to a branch. Service industry productivity is increasing faster than manufacturing over the last twenty years.

For the knowledge and service economy this requires typically a computer to have knowledge and provide service. So if we are booking a flight, then the computer needs to have been programmed with a process to book one or more flights and a complete list of flights and there availability. The problem arises when you say I want to fly anywhere on friday night. So in these industries AI will provide the increased productivity that robots have provided in the car manufacturing industry.