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Big farm decisions coming up? Start here

dtokar/iStock/GettyImagesPlus Man standing on office chair in a field looking for direction
The most important thing of all is just to start.

As a farm leader, you know there are certain business and financial decisions that ultimately are up to you – because you’re the leader of the operation. Others may provide a good deal of input about the decision, but the final decision is yours.

That responsibility can lead to a number of feelings like uncertainty, anxiety or even fear. When the stakes of the decision are high and the decision itself involves many factors that are unknown or uncertain, that can make it tough territory to navigate.

Getting unstuck

Thinking you’re alone in decision-making often leads to something known as “analysis paralysis.” Farm leaders can get caught up in the sheer volume of information that’s out there when its time to make big decisions, such as marketing decisions, for example. They often find themselves drowning in information, yet still not sure what they should actually do.

When people don’t know what to do, what do they typically do? The answer is: nothing. They most commonly take no action. That’s the “paralysis” part of the problem.

The real question is: How can farm leaders make the business decisions they need to make for their operations, without getting stuck in the “paralysis” loop? Usually, the most important thing is simply to make sure you get the actual decision-making part of the process started.

Starting points

Here are a few ideas to help farm leaders move from information and opinions toward a starting place for big decision-making.

  • An outlined process. When you need to make a big decision for the farm business, it can be helpful to have a decision-making process to use for decisions of a certain size (could be in terms of dollar amount, or some other combination of criteria). That way, whenever you approach needing to make a large decision, rather than feeling about unsure where to start, you simply start with the first step you’ve outlined in your process. Make the first step of your process simple – that gives you momentum toward completing the full process, and most importantly, making a decision.
  • A calendar of timelines. Having set dates for decisions can also be a key component to making sure decisions are made in the right timeframes. You might set up a calendar with specific deadlines for big decisions, and create pre-deadlines for any information-gathering, conversations or other preparation you’ll need to do before making the actual decision. Make sure to give yourself enough time – in other words, start the process earlier than you think you should to give yourself enough time so you’re not rushed at the end.
  • An advisor relationship. For some farmers, it can be helpful to have a trusted, third-party advisor to begin bouncing ideas off of. Having a conversation with someone with specific expertise and insight can be a helpful way to get started when its time to make big decisions. If you’d like fresh insights and perspective on your marketing plans, you can learn more about our solutions and get a free trial.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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