1. Farm Profile


Tomas’ farm is located in the north-west part of Lithuania; he has been expanding this farm for 15 years. He is living with his family (wife and 3 kids) in the farm territory. At the moment, they have 10 bison.

Tomas’ father was a forester and lived near the forest. When he retired, he was very interested in traditional ancient animal species that lived in Lithuania. Later, he bought two bison and took care of them. Tomas inherited the two bison.


2. Multifunctional Farming


Tomas’ farming history is full of surprises and strange coincidences. 


2.1. Situation before Multifunctional Activity


Tomas was interested in business when he was a child so after graduating the school he decided to study business in university. During his studies, his father bought two bison. After graduating he was looking for a job and his father suggested using the area around the home town for his own business. Taking care of the bison was only a hobby at that time. After some years, Tomas started to think about his father’s offer. At that time, Tomas’ father got sick so Tomas had to come back and help him.


2.2. Developing the Business Idea


When Tomas came back home to take care of his father, he had to take care of the bison. After a few months, a new bison was born and Tomas felt that occupation related to the wild nature is something what he had always wanted to do. So Tomas started developing ideas how this activity can become a successful business.
He attended many lectures about business ideas, planning, etc. Firstly, he was thinking about a farm with horses, cows and other traditional animals. But then he understood that he has neither enough land nor appropriate buildings to shelter animals in winter. He shared his doubts with parents and they suggested keeping bison. In the beginning of Tomas’ business, bison were almost extinct in Lithuania and there was only one place where people could see them.


2.3. Multifunctional Agriculture


When Tomas started to think about the business of keeping bison, the first main point of focus was how to attract visitors. He prepared the area for tourists, built a car parking space, hiking trails. His partners opened a small and cozy place to eat. A playground was built for family tourism. Later on, Tomas’ wife started organizing education seminars for adults and educational lessons for kids.


2.4. Financing the New Business


In the beginning, Tomas was struggling. He had to build and create everything from scratch and there was nobody to ask about all details and peculiarities. The area where he lives is not very popular among tourists, so a lot of people were interested to visit the place and see the bison as a new attraction of the area. 
The main point of his strategy was to work hard with promotion of the business. His partners whom he invited to join helped a lot too. 


3. Skills for Multifunctional Agriculture


Tomas has strong business management skills which he learned at university, while in business he accrues much more practical knowledge.


3.1. Promoter and Staff Competences


As it was mentioned before, Tomas has strong business management skills. It was the main ground for running his multifunctional business. He got practical experience as to how to take care of bison from his father. Bison care does not require special skills because a person does not need to spend every day in the farm. For this reason, Tomas is still not looking for employees to work with the bison. He needs employees only in the snack bar and during educational seminars. Tomas’ partners have to take care of the staff at the snack bar, while his own family members (his wife) take care of the educational seminars. 


3.2. Access to and Management of Skills and Know-How


At the beginning Tomas used his theoretical knowledge and designed a business plan. He prepared a presentation to present his vision, budget plan, future activities for visitors. He used this information during the meetings with possible partners. Hence Tomas needed a clear vision, persuasion skills, self-esteem, high level of communication and courage.


4. Experiences & Recommendations


Tomas has a lot of experience working with partners and he would like to share his knowledge with others.


4.1. Implementing the Business Idea


The first step was to have a clear vision as to what Tomas wants to create. Secondly, he had to prepare data for the meetings with possible partners. Then there were many meetings with possible partners, discussions, making of plans and adapting them according to partners’ needs and possibilities. Tomas says that the most important thing when you work with partners is to write a detailed partnership agreement. After contracting partners, he had to make his farm comfortable and attractive to tourists, visitors, to get all legal documents for his business.

When a person starts his business, he thinks that the beginning is the hardest part, yet Tomas disagrees with such an opinion. When his business started it received much attention and support. But after two years people lost their interest and started looking for new places. Tomas had been preparing for this thus he suggested playgrounds for kids, educational activities.


4.2. Finding Supporters for the Business Concept


It was not hard for Tomas to convince his parents, because they were part of this idea. But that did not affect the communication with possible partners. Many of them seemed to be interested but later on, when they had to contribute, they just disappeared or had a lot of work besides Tomas’ farm.


4.3. Promoter‘s Advice


•    Tomas suggests preparing for multifunctional business. This area is difficult to handle not only as a business. Multifunctional farm has some exceptions in Lithuanian law system which treats and regulates various activities differently.
•    Tomas is very happy that he thought about partners in the very beginning of business. Sometimes to start everything from scratch is almost impossible, while it is obligatory to have strong connections with other partners.


4.4 Queries and Consideration


Tomas suggests having big dreams and following them. One just has to do it with open eyes and ears, searching for the best way, good improvements and contracting useful partnerships.


Extra information:


Video about bison