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Small Business Management in Agri-Food Industries
FRE 302
Section: 001
Instructor: Kelleen Wiseman
Office: MCML 329
Office Hours: M/W 10:00 am to 11:00 am
Class Schedule: Monday & Wednesday, 8:30 ‐ 10:00 am
Classroom: MCML 160
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Description

FRE 302 Small Business Management in Agri‐Food Industries introduces students to the principles of business planning and management with an emphasis on the areas of finance, marketing, legal structure, risk and professional communications. These principles will be presented and applied within the context of small to medium businesses involved in the food, environmental resource and agribusiness sector and will emphasize both fundamental business planning concepts and the unique challenges facing firms in these sectors. Students will be required to analyze, apply, and evaluate course concepts and create their own business plan as part of the requirements of this course.

The course will be of value to those who have an interest in developing their own business idea now or in the future, working within a business as a non‐business specialist/manager, or applying an entrepreneurial approach within a larger business. At some point in the future, most students will be involved with a small to medium business, as an owner, manager, contractor, investor, employee, supplier or client, and thus will likely be involved in assessing and/or preparing one or more part of a business plan. This course provides the fundamental content and knowledge to support the assessments.

Textbook & Readings

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK: Barringer, Bruce. R., (2015). Preparing Effective Business Plans: An Entrepreneurial Approach. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Pearson Prentice Hall. Available online, rental or bookstore.

READINGS: Posted on Canvas or as weblink

Learning Outcomes

Business Planning Basics
  • Describe the objectives and elements of a Business Plan
  • Illustrate the 5 Step Business Planning Process including business idea generation, idea screening, feasibility analysis, business plan preparation and plan presentation.
  • Identify the Unique Features of Food, Environmental and Agribusiness products/services/firms and issues of importance when starting and operating this type of business.
  • Assess merits of a business idea/opportunity by utilizing a 5‐part First Screen guide
  • Conduct a Feasibility Analysis by reviewing i. product, ii. industry/target market, iii. organization, and iv. finances aspects of a venture.
  • Develop a Value Proposition model
Entrepreneurial Process & Start Up
  • Understand the challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship 
  • Describe and apply primary and secondary market research techniques required to conduct First Screen, Feasibility Analysis and full Business Planning Process
  • Develop a workable vision and mission statement for a business
Financial Management & Projections
  • Develop financial projections using the financial statements of net worth, balance sheet, net income and cash flow.
  • Explain and understand the relationships among the main financial statements
  • Develop and interpret financial ratios to assess the liquidity, solvency, profitability and efficiency of businesses in various stages of establishment.
  • Describe and assess business and financial risk and its importance in business planning
Industry Analysis
  • Describe and develop an industry analysis including industry definition, industry size/growth; industry characteristics; industry trends; and long‐term prospects.
  • Describe and apply industry analysis frameworks
Market Analysis
  • Develop a market analysis including describing a firm's target market, customers, and competitors; how it will compete in the marketplace; and potential sales and market share.
  • Describe and utilize segmentation, buyer behaviour and competitive analysis models
  • Describe options for the 4Ps of Price, Product, Promotion and Place
Product Development/Design & Operations
  • Describe the key issues of product development section including new product development and intellectual property
  • Describe main elements of operations of a business including model, legal, regulations, management, employees, location and facilities/equipment.
  • Describe legal structures available for business start‐ups & associated financing sources
  • Evaluate the choice between debt financing and equity financing
  • Identify the typical sources of financing used at the outset of a new venture
  • Discuss the 5Cs and the process for acquiring and structuring a bank loan
  • Compute the loan payment and schedule of common loan scenarios
Business Plan Presentation
  • Outline the correct content, format and style of a Professional Business Plan document with emphasis on the executive summary
  • Describe the content to include in an business plan elevator speech and presentation

Evaluation Plan

In‐Class Activities (Best 6 of 8) 6
Epoll (Best 25 of 30) 5
Assignments (3) 9
Group Business Plan Project 20
Midterm 25
Final Exam  35

In-Class Activities (6%) 

Objective: To encourage students to actively engage in class content, retrieve and connect materials to develop their own knowledge base and understanding of concepts and obtain quick response to their questions. These are great practice questions for the midterm and final exam.

Eight individual in‐class activities will take place throughout the term. These will not be announced ahead of time and must be completed individually in approximately 10 minutes and submitted in the class during which they were assigned. The marker for the course will grade these activities basis the rubric: 0 missing information/poor; 0.5 adequate but needs details/work; 1 satisfactory. Late submissions will not be accepted. There are no do‐overs or extra credit for missed activities. If you miss an activity for any reason, you will receive a grade of 0 in that activity. Your grade will be assessed using the best six grades of the eight activities, with each question allotted 1 pt toward the total of 6%.

  • Solutions to activities will be posted shortly after the in‐class activity has been provided in class.
  • In‐class activities will be generally conducted in the last ten minutes of the class. The activities are meant to be 10 minutes – and that is what I allot in class time.
  • I have specifically built in extra activities so that those students who need to miss class will not be penalized.

EPOLLS (5%): Starting Week 2

Objective: To encourage students to be active and engaged in learning during class, promote class questions/discussion and provide questions that emphasize content that is relevant for the exams.

  • Registration for Poll Everywhere: Poll everywhere is a simple application that allows you to text short answer or answer multiple choice questions using mobile devices like phones or laptops. Students will need to register (at no cost) and then participate in the poll by visiting a mobile‐friendly web page. Use the web invite and the power point available on Canvas to assist in registration.
  • Using Epolls: Bring one mobile device to class with you each class: Once registered, then no matter what device is used (laptop, smartphone, tablet) you will be able to login, participate in the poll and your answers will be logged. Be sure you log in at the beginning of each class.
  • Answer Questions provided in Class: Multiple choice questions will be provided in class for grades. The number per week varies basis the content we will cover. In most cases, more questions are provided later in the term. Only questions that are numbered questions are worth marks. You will receive one point for a correct answer and 0 for an incorrect answer. Your grade will be assessed using the top grades from 25 out of the 30 questions, with each question allotted 0.2 pts toward the total of 5%. All polls must be completed in‐class. Late submissions will not be accepted. There are no do‐overs or extra credit for missed activities. If you miss an Epoll for any reason, you will receive a 0 in that Epoll. Note: I have specifically built in extra Epolls so that those students who need to miss class will not be penalized.

Assignments (Two Equally Weighted) (9%) 

Objective: The objective of these assignments is to provide you with experience in developing and analyzing financial and marketing aspects of a business plan. These questions also provide you with a good idea of the format and content of exam questions.

All assignments should follow this protocol:

  • Title page providing the assignment number, student name and UBC number
  • Questions placed in the correct order
  • Assignments are to be submitted in a PDF format to UBC Canvas. You can convert to PDF using free PrimoPDF printer (available at or Tiny Scanner to scan the doc using your cell phone. It is your responsibility to produce readable files.
  • Excel usage is encouraged for the completion of the financial assignments, but you must upload a PDF doc of the excel for grading. Be sure that your entire active excel worksheets is placed into PDF and are readable.
  • Show your work on the assignment and not just a single answer.
  • Please provide neatly handwritten or Excel/Word typed solutions. Messy assignments will not be accepted.

You may work with other students, but you must turn in your own individual assignment. If you have an answer that is too close to another student’s answer, you will both be given a 0 in the question without recourse and this will be handled according to the policies of the university.

Due dates/times will be posted on the assignments. Solutions to assignments will be posted via the course web site shortly after the due date/time. Please note, to be fair to all students, late assignments are not accepted. There are no partial scores for late submissions; no makeup assignment, no do‐overs or extra credit offered for missed or low grade assignments.

Group Business Plan Project (20%) 

You will be required to come up with a business idea that is associated with the food, environmental resources or agri‐food business sector and then complete a basic business plan (due near the end of term) for that business idea. This project will be completed in groups of 4 students (MLWS in groups of 2 people). A handout outlining timing and requirements for the group project will be given out on the third week of class. Groups will not be assigned, and you are free to develop your own groups basis shared interest and expertise.

Exams (60%) 

The midterm (90 minutes in class) exam date is defined in the class schedule and the final exam (2.5 hours) date will be defined by the registrar. Exams content will include problem solving and short answer questions. Examinations will be closed books and closed notes. The final exam will be cumulative.

Please note that a basic non‐scientific calculator is required for each exam. Only this basic type of calculator will be allowed for use in the exam. If you are unsure if your calculator is OK for the exam be sure to check with me prior to the midterm date. Formula sheet and cell phones are not permitted during exams.

If you are unable to write a midterm examination, you must have a verifiable doctor note and must contact me before or immediately after the scheduled date and time and present documentation explaining your absence. If the excuse is considered legitimate, then the weight of the exam will be transferred to the final exam. There will be no makeup midterm examinations.

Course Policies

Lecture Notes

Notes will be available on the website prior the class. These notes provide only the basic information on the topics. Each student is expected to read the assigned textbook chapters and readings, print notes/bring along a device that has the lecture material, and add their own notes during class. Not everything is in the notes and many topic/concepts are discussed in class that are important to the topic and exams. Be sure you engage during class.

Active Learning Suggestions (Or How To Do Well in This Course!)

  1. Start each week by reading the assigned textbook materials/readings and write down a few notes of key items or questions from the readings. This will allow you to genuinely follow the lectures and develop your understanding of the course material as we cover content in class.
  2. Print or bring along a device that has the class notes and add your own notes to lecture slides during class. We will have many class discussions, questions, cases, videos and examples during the term, and it is your responsibility to note these and be familiar with them for added knowledge and exam content.
  3. Too many students just “watch” the lecture. Try to remain active and engaged during the lectures as this will increase your uptake of the material and decrease your study time.
  4. Make the effort to complete and engage in Epolls, In‐class Activities and Case content.
  5. Review and try to answer the sample questions from the textbook and questions provided at the end of the lecture slides. These are provided to point out key points, potential exam questions and concepts.

In-Class Cases & Current Articles

A set of cases and articles will be used as a platform for in‐class discussion throughout the term. Material will be included in exams and assignments – not the specifics but the concepts that have been discussed via these cases/articles.

  • Cases provide students with the opportunity to apply course content to real world scenarios. Content will be announced and posted prior to the date they will be covered in class. Be prepared to write down the answers and key points as we go along as there are no solutions available other than those we develop during class.
  • Articles connected to the main course topics will be provided at the beginning of class. I will post these articles on Canvas every 2 weeks or so.

Name Tags

Two sets of tent cards with your name will be printed. You will keep one and I will keep one as a backup in case you forget to bring yours ‐ display it during each class. Thanks!

Class Protocol

  • Be on time for class. It can be disruptive for the rest of us if you enter the classroom late.
  • Participation is important in this class. Be prepped and ready to ask questions and apply general concepts to the specific situations under discussion. It goes without saying that you must be present to participate, so attendance is expected.
  • Laptops are not necessary in the classroom. If you must have a laptop in class, then manage your access to respect others and the instructor by focusing on the lecture.
  • Cell phones should be accessed only for time tracking and Epoll. Texting in class is not professional!
  • Do not enter and exit the classroom during the class. The class is one hour and twenty minutes long and you are expected to be in the class the entire time.

Academic Misconduct

Academic honesty is essential to the continued functioning of The University of British Columbia as an institution of higher learning and research. All UBC students are expected to behave as honest and responsible members of an academic community. Breach of those expectations or failure to follow the appropriate policies, principles, rules, and guidelines of the University with respect to academic honesty may result in disciplinary action.

Academic misconduct that is subject to disciplinary measures includes, but is not limited, to the following:

  • Plagiarism, which is intellectual theft, occurs where an individual submits or presents the oral or written work of another person as his or her own. In many UBC courses, you will be required to submit material in electronic form. The electronic material will be submitted to a service which UBC subscribes, called TurnItIn. This service checks textual material for originality. It is increasingly used in North American universities. For more information, review TurnItIn website online.
  • Cheating, which may include, but is not limited to falsification of any material subject to academic evaluation, unauthorized collaborative work; or use of unauthorized means to complete an examination.
  • Submitting others work as your own, may include but not limited to i. using, or attempting to use, another student’s answers; ii. providing answers to other students; iii. failing to take reasonable measures to protect answers from use by other students; or iv. in the case of students who study together, submitting identical or virtually identical assignments for evaluation unless permitted by the course instructor.
  • Resubmission of Material, submitting the same, or substantially the same, essay, presentation, or assignment more than once (whether the earlier submission was at this or another institution) unless prior approval has been obtained from the instructor(s) to whom the assignment is to be submitted.
  • Use of academic ghostwriting services, including hiring of writing or research services and submitting papers or assignments as his or her own.

Student Responsibility: Students are responsible for informing themselves of the guidelines of acceptable and nonacceptable conduct for examinations and graded assignments as presented via FRE code of conduct guidelines; course syllabus and instructors; and UBC academic misconduct policies, Review the following web sites for details:

  • UBC Academic Misconduct and Discipline (,54,111,0)
  • UBC Learning Commons web‐based Academic Integrity (‐integrity/).

Penalties for Academic Dishonesty: The integrity of academic work depends on the honesty of all those who work in this environment and the observance of accepted conventions. Academic misconduct is treated as a serious offence at UBC and within the LFS/FRE program. Penalties for academic dishonesty are applied at the discretion of the course instructor. Incidences of academic misconduct may result in a reduction of grade or a mark of zero on the assignment or examination with more serious consequences such as a zero on the course or required withdrawal being applied if the matter is referred to the Dean’s office and/or President’s Advisory Committee on Student Discipline.

Course Schedule


Week 1/2

  • Objectives, Elements and Format of a business plan
  • 5 step business planning process
  • Unique features of food, environmental and agribusiness
  • First screen of business idea
  • Feasibility analysis
  • Products, Customers and Value Proposition Canvas
  • Chapter 1, 2, 3
  • Introduction to the Value Proposition Canvas
Entrepreneurial Process & Start Up

Week 2/3

  • Challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship
  • Primary and secondary market research techniques
  • More of Products, Customers and Value Proposition Canvas plus Unique Selling Proposition
  • Readings Online
Financial Returns: Management & Projections

Week 4/5

  • Financial statement: net worth, balance sheet, net income and cash flow.
  • Relationships among the main financial statements
  • Financial ratios: liquidity, solvency, profitability and efficiency of businesses in various stages of establishment.
  • What if Scenarios: Breakeven and Sensitivity Analysis
  • Risk Tolerance: Business risk and financial risk and its importance in business planning
  • Chapter 10
  • Readings Online
Macro Market: Industry & Competition

Week 6/7

  • Industry analysis: overview, frameworks and defining key characteristics and drivers
  • Competitive analysis: overview, frameworks and positioning of firm/products
  • Chapter 10
Micro Market: Customer & 4Ps


Week 9/10

  • Customer Analysis: Target Marketing, Model of segmentation and buyer behaviour
  • 4P Strategy: price, product, promotion and place
  • Chapter 6, 7
Product Protection & Operations

Week 10/11

  • Product protection
  • Considerations for operations: model, legal, regulations, management, employees, location and facilities/equipment.
  • Chapter 9
Financing a Business:

Week 11/12

  • Legal structures
  • Financing sources: debt financing and equity financing, new business sources
  • 5cs and the process for acquiring and structuring a bank loan
  • Payment and schedules for typical loans: short term and long term
  • Readings Online
Business Plan Presentation

Week 13

  • Business Canvas Model
  • Business Plan: Critiquing the content, format and style of a professional business plan document & executive summary
  • Business idea pitches
  • Chapter 11
  • Readings Online

*This schedule should be regarded as a general plan. There may be some variation from this schedule as we proceed.