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Charting your farm's course through rough seas

Charting your farm's course through rough seas

As your farm business operation's 'captain,' learn to navigate successfully through tough times

If you've been involved in agriculture for any length of time, you've seen a good deal of change. From new technologies to new production methods to shifting economic cycles – there's always something going on in the world of ag.

Related: Lead Proactively with Flexible Farm Planning

Like the captain of a ship with responsibility to chart a course for the journey across the ocean, the farm leader has a similar job. As you lead your operation, you must set a course, and then make adjustments to that route as necessary.

As your farm business operation's 'captain,' learn to navigate successfully through tough times

Often, anticipating changes that need to be made can mean the difference between success or failure. Being prepared can mean more success; You'll typically be more agile and equipped to handle whatever comes your way.

Otherwise, the farm leader and the overall operation can find they're forced to react to what's happening, rather than proactively planning or thinking ahead to anticipate challenges and what's coming next. And reacting rather than being ahead of the change isn't as effective.

Look ahead
As your farm operation's 'captain,' a forward-looking mindset keeps you from being surprised by sudden storms. The future-oriented captain thinks ahead to anticipate potential obstacles and charts a few different potential alternative courses. Those alternatives are available in a moment's notice if needed.

Planning makes a huge difference in agriculture, where so much of what affects us is related to factors we can't control, like weather, markets, world economies. But what we can control is how we choose to respond – and prepare – for any storms on the horizon.

Related: Succession planning: Beware the 'unintended beneficiary'

It's a good approach when it comes to new technologies and methods, as well. Rather than saying, "This is the way we've always done it, and we're going to keep doing it that way," the future-oriented farm leader looks into the new idea, learns about it, and then determines whether adopting it would benefit their operation.

This mindset can lead to entirely different outcomes and ways of thinking. Think about your operation. How does your farm typically deal with change? Are you out ahead, on the edge, pushing the change forward? Do the people on your farm stay up on new developments in ag to see if there's something that could be incorporated that would benefit the operation? Do you stay on top of new technology or methods that would work well on your farm?

Consider your approach and the overall approach of the other people in your operation, as well as how you'd like your operation to move into the future with you at the helm.

Get more business ideas for your operation in this issue of our Smart Series publication, or learn more about future planning on the farm.

Continued reading: Managing in a downturn: Advice from a Silicon Valley giant

The opinions of Darren Frye are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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