LocalFoodSystems.org's Business Ecosystem Tools



LocalFoodSystems.org is about promoting strong local and regional economies by offering tools that help entrepreneurs build business ecosystems rooted in agriculture. Entrepreneurs can use the tools on this site to connect their business idea into a supply chain network of locally owned businesses, existing and planned, and together with other entrepreneurs and locally owned businesses find the capital needed to launch their businesses. Food is of particular interest both to entrepreneurs and consumers, hence the name LocalFoodSystems.org, but other basic needs like energy, equipment, services and materials that are part of agriculture are of equal importance.




Create an account on LFS.

This is important for three reasons:

  1. Access to tools you can use to develop your business idea and position it within a local supply chain, in other words find its place in a local business ecosystem.
  2. Information about your business idea can be stored and used for marketing the business.
  3. Records the communications you have on the way to launching your business in the local business ecosystem

  Step 1: Explore Your Business Idea


Refer to the available maps and supply chain analysis tools for more information to help develop and support your business case.


   Step 2: Place Your Idea on the Map


Fill out the business case template for your business idea, whether for a new business or expansion of an existing business. Existing businesses interested in new suppliers or B2B customers can describe their business here as well.

Enter the outputs your business idea or existing business provides and the inputs it needs to conduct operations. Matching these inputs and outputs among businesses provides a network map of a potential business ecosystem. Those potential suppliers and customers are potentially valuable contacts with whom you can collaborate to build the local business ecosystem.

You might also return to the maps and supply chain analysis tools to map out important assets and capabilities in the area around your business and supply chain.


   Step 3: Join Forces and Collaborate


The message here is that you are not alone!

Send introductory emails to the addresses that show-up in the pop-up windows on those dots connected to your dot on the business cluster map.

Talk with people you see in your emerging business ecosystem about possibilities for collaboration on launching multiple businesses that are networked on supply chains.

You can establish a new group, public or private, on this site to focus and maintain communications with your new-found collaborators and partners. Click “Create a Group” on the Groups page.

In its simplest sense, a group provides you with an online forum wherein members can communicate, everyone gets the message (works like an email listserve), and all the messages and attachments are stored.

Regardless of how you accomplish your communications, make sure you document what each person does and the time you’re all investing. Nothing builds trust faster than putting one’s reputation on the line with commitments made and fulfilled. And with trust comes investment, reciprocity, and advocacy to move businesses forward to successful launch.


   Step 4: Grow Business and Community Capital


This section provides you with the tools to help you and your collaborators find what you need for successful launches, and long-term sustainability. Together, this set of tools will help you and your community establish a Community Investment Portfolio.

A Community Investment Portfolio positions the business cases within your business ecosystem for investment of various forms of capital--human, built, natural, and financial--available to people, including yourselves, in the area served by your businesses. Those locally-sourced capitals keep the assets and wealth of your area at work for all who live there.