SWOT analysis of Runamuk

SWOT analysis of Runamuk

runamuk's swot analysisBusiness planning and annual reviews are an important aspect of any business–big or small–even agricultural businesses. Typically most farmers spend time during the quieter winter months planning and preparing for the next season, and I may be a little late getting to it this year due to the disarray my life currently faces, but I have been reviewing Runamuk’s farming operation and making plans just like any other good and dedicated farmer.

Recently I conducted a SWOT analysis of my farming business (read more about what a SWOT analysis is and how to do an analysis of your own farm by clicking here), small as it may be–and here is what I came up with:

Runamuk’s Strengths

    What does Runamuk do well?

  • Produce excellent raw honey.
  • Crafts quality organic & all-natural beeswax products.
  • Great marketing capabilities.
  • Education/outreach
  • Writing
    What is your main focus?

  • Bees
  • Conservation
  • Sustainability
  • Educating others
    What have been your most notable achievements?

  • Getting my home-processing license for bottling honey.
  • Building the apiary up to 12 hives.
  • Starting the Somerset Beekeepers’ group.
  • Establishing the Madison Farmers’ Market.
  • Placing in the top 25 of SYTYCW14.
    What made you start your operation?

  • Needed to pay for my beekeeping and gardening obsession.
  • Needed my own source of income.
    What are your major sources of profit?

  • Raw honey
  • Beeswax products
  • CSA/veggie sales
  • Seedlings/Pollinator plants
    Why do your cutomers buy from Runamuk?

  • We offer a local source of honey.
  • For our quality products
  • Because they know me–either as a friend or family member, or as a local farmer/beekeeper.
    What sets you apart from others?

  • High-quality products
  • Dedication to conservation
    What resources does Runamuk have access to?

  • Numerous apiary locations
  • Surplus hive equipment
  • Extractor & tools
  • Computer/internet
    What is your greatest asset?

  • Access to apiary locations
  • Marketing skills
  • Customer-base

Runamuk’s Weaknesses

    What does Runamuk not do well?

  • Keep hives alive long-term.
  • Grow the apiary
  • Increase profits
  • Increase market distribution
    What are your least profitable enterprises?

  • Writing
  • Outreach efforts
    What is your biggest expense?

  • Bees
  • Mite treatments
  • Soap-making ingredients


    What might other farmers see as Runamuk’s weaknesses?

  • Lack of start-up capital.
  • Lack of a farm
  • Farmer spread too thin.
    What should you avoid?

  • Debt!
  • Poor credit
  • Losing any more hives.
  • Taking on too much too soon.
    What resources does the farm need?

  • Funds for investment
  • A farm of my own/permanent location.

Opportunities for Runamuk

    What technologies are available that you can use to lower costs?

  • Foundationless combs
  • IPM
    Can Runamuk have more predictable cash flows?

  • YES
    What market trends have you observed?

  • Increased sales during the holiday season.
  • Opportunity for internet sales
  • Possibility for more sales via tourist hot-spots.
    What new relationships can the farm develop?

  • Affiliates through the Homestead Bloggers’ Network
  • Friendships with peers at market & Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
    What local events might benefit the farm?

  • County fairs
  • Madison-Anson Days
  • Cook-offs (using honey is recipes)
  • Craft fairs

Threats to Runamuk’s Operation

    Are there any significant changes to the industry?

  • Problems with mites.
    Do you have competitors reducing the farm’s market share?

  • More new beekeepers.
  • Lots of soap on the market.
  • Beekeepers with 100s of hives.
    What are the major obstacles to the Runamuk operation?

  • Lack of land
  • Little start-up capital.
  • Difficulty keeping colonies alive/thriving.
    Does the farm have bad debt or cash-flow problems?

  • Cash-flow problems
  • Credit is tied up with the Burns property.
    Could any of the farm’s weaknesses seriously threaten the operation?

  • Cash-flow

What does this mean for Runamuk?

business planning for beginning farmersOnce I had all of this information I needed to translate it into some kind of plan.

Initially I took four pieces of paper and wrote “Strengths” on one, “Weaknesses” on another, Opportunities on the next, and Threats on the last. Then I jotted down the questions for each category and brainstormed the responses you see above. When that was finished I sat at my desk at Johnny’s between calls for seed orders and took my red ink pen and a bright yellow highlighter and went through the lists. I highlighted those points that I feel were strongest, and added notes in red ink as needed. This just helped me to better hone in on my strongest strengths and opportunities, and to analyze those weaknesses and threats that pose the most danger to my farming operation.

With that done I took another piece of paper and spent some times matching my strengths to the opportunities that I saw. Then I did the same for Runamuk’s weaknesses and threats–with the intention of converting them to strengths and opportunities down the road. And if I can’t convert those weaknesses, I will work toward minimizing their impact on my business.

This is what my plan for Runamuk looks like for 2015:

Strengths & Opportunities


  • Internet sales
  • Get products into stores
  • Participate in craft fairs
  • Utilize the holiday shopping season.

  • Blogging
  • Polish & resubmit your novel.

Weaknesses & Threats

    Improve IPM methods

  • Keep mite-treatments on-hand.
  • Perform regular mite-testing.
  • Introduce hygienic Queens.
    Monitor spending

  • No loans
  • Only absolutely essential investments.
  • Set up a savings account.
    Market for free bees.

  • Swarm catching

Share your thoughts, comments or questions!

Runamuk Acres Conservation Farm