Here's something that I've noticed sets apart the most successful farmers: good organization and planning. These farmers run their business in a proactive, strategic way. They don't get caught up in day-to-day details. They have a broader sense of where their farm is headed – and they set that direction for the rest of their team.
Chances are you didn't get into farming because you like office work or strategic planning. Most farmers are passionate about production ag. It's why you started farming in the first place. You love producing quality crops and livestock.
We don't like to spend time on the parts of the business that we don't enjoy doing. I really don't like doing paperwork. If you walked in my office right now, you'd see a pile of paperwork. If it's urgent, it will get done, but if it's not urgent, it's probably just going to sit there in the stack.
If you don't like planning, then it's not likely to be a major part of your operation. But in business, success starts there. Failing to plan is like planning to fail.
Farmers who are not intentional tend to struggle in today's competitive farming environment. A plan helps you direct your activities to achieve your larger goals. You can manage your time better with a proactive plan. Otherwise, working on whatever is most urgent at the moment is likely the result.
How do you begin to build planning into your operation? Start by working on the broader picture of your farm – like vision, mission and values. Then break it down further into specific parts of your business that you want to work on.
You might find some areas where you know you could do a better job or take better advantage of opportunities. Make improvement in those areas a part of your plan. If it's an area you aren't as passionate about, working with an expert advisor could free you up while improving that facet of the operation.
Create a strategic plan for your farm. Know your strengths and know where you could be doing a better job. Help your operation achieve the success that you want by starting – and working through – a proactive plan.
Darren Frye grew up on an innovative, integrated Illinois farm. He began trading commodities in 1982 and started his first business in 1987, specializing in fertilizer distribution and crop consulting. In 1994, he started a consulting business, Water Street Solutions to help Midwest farmers achieve success through financial analysis, insurance, commodity marketing, and legacy planning. The mission of Finance First is to get you to look at spreadsheets and see opportunity, to see your business for what it can be, and to help you build your agricultural legacy. Contact Darren at email@example.com.
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