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Can farms create opportunity from obstacles?

Finance First: Direct your energy and concerns into creative problem-solving by focusing on factors you can control.

Darren Frye, CEO

June 3, 2024

3 Min Read
Farm gate with dramatic sky
Getty Images/EntropyWorkshop

In leading today’s farm operations, it can seem like there are any number of obstacles that arise along the way. As farm leaders work to achieve their goals for the future of their operations, challenges might seem to pop up around every corner.

The truth is that no leader can control all conditions as we work toward our goals and plans for the operation. For farmers, aspects like weather, markets and the global economy immediately come to mind as factors that are out of anyone’s immediate control.

Pivot your mindset

That could be very upsetting, or instead, leaders could decide to immediately pivot to this line of thought: Work to control what you can control. The key to running your business – and your life – is to focus on the aspects and elements that you have direct control over, and to make the best possible decisions accordingly.

Controlling what you can control and letting the rest mentally go as much as possible is the best strategy a leader can take. Doing this allows your creative problem-solving to come to the forefront instead of anxiety or uncertainty about things you ultimately don’t directly control.

Choosing to focus on what you can control is the first step toward creating opportunities from obstacles. When you encounter what seems to be an obstacle in your operation, what tends to be your first reaction? Many farmers might have an initial negative reaction to a perceived problem. But I would challenge you to take a step back from that train of thought.

What’s in your control?

When you encounter what looks to be a challenge or obstacle, work to first separate out what you can control from what you truly can’t. Doing this can help you get a clearer view of the situation itself and move more quickly into problem-solving mode.

It can also allow you to begin to see any potential opportunities within the challenge, because you’re already focused on the actions you can take to impact the situation. It’s so important to let go of the things you truly cannot change as quickly as possible. Otherwise, anxiety and uncertainty will drain you of your valuable time and energy – two things that no one can ever get back!

Finding the opportunity within the obstacle will become easier and more automatic the more you practice doing it. Sometimes the opportunity is large, and sometimes it will be smaller. When you and your farm’s team can springboard into this way of thinking, the results may be surprising.

Put it to practice

What’s an obstacle your farm is facing right now? Sort out what you and your team can directly impact and control – and what you cannot. Use any energy you were spending on anxiety and worry and direct it toward creative problem-solving.

Find the opportunities within the challenge – look at it as a puzzle. Involve your leadership team and/or employees. Look especially at areas of your operation where you find yourself having the greatest anxiety or most questions.

Farmers have found that getting some third-party perspective from our market advisors has helped ease their minds. The advisors help farmer clients with planning and execution around marketing decisions and help keep them up to speed on the current rapidly-changing grain market situation – and how it impacts their operation.

Get a free two-week trial of our marketing information service (MarketView Basic). Your free trial includes regular audio and video updates, technical analysis, recommendations and more. Learn more about our market advisor programs and offerings at www.waterstreetag.com.

About the Author(s)

Darren Frye

CEO, Water Street Solutions

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 become more successful through financial analysis, crop insurance, marketing consulting 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.

Visit Water Street Solutions

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