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How can leaders best respond to curveballs?How can leaders best respond to curveballs?

Finance First: Be prepared to respond when a curveball targets your farm.

Darren Frye

November 6, 2023

3 Min Read
Arrows in a row with a curve in the middle representing change of plans
Getty Images/cagkansayin

One of the toughest aspects on the farm – and indeed, in any business – are the curveballs that happen from time to time as you’re going about running your business.

No one particularly likes dealing with curveballs, especially when they’re the type that put a major wedge in your farm plans. But farm leaders all know that twists can and do happen sometimes, so the main question is: What do you do when one comes into play?

There are three steps you can take when confronting a major curveball for your operation and as you determine how you will deal with it moving forward.

3 steps

  1. First, take a step back. Taking a step back mentally and emotionally from the curveball is the best thing you can do right after discovering or hearing about it. Why? Because if the leader has an emotional response initially when finding out about the curveball, that’s not the ideal mindset to be in when problem-solving. Also, people in general might not always make the best decisions when they’re dealing with intense emotions. If at all possible, give yourself some time between when you first find out about the curveball and making any decisions about action. There will be some situations when you must make a decision immediately after discovering a curveball, but those will likely be the exception rather than the norm.

  2. Next, make a plan. After you’ve taken a step back from the curveball, you can start to consider how you’ll approach getting a plan together for how to solve or deal with it. Think about how to use the resources at your disposal including any objective analysis that can be done, review of business or financial data, your overarching business goals and plans, and discussion with any relevant advisors – any factors that could help solve the problem can be used. At this point, it may be a bit easier to think about the best way to tackle the curveball, because you’ve given yourself some emotional distance from it and can potentially craft better and more creative solutions. You also can seek ideas and feedback from your advisors.

  3. Finally, work the plan. Once you’ve gotten a solid plan in place, you have the chance to work through it and see what’s helping and what’s not. It’s likely you may have to do some additional tweaking to your plan and solutions, especially if the particular curveball is something your farm hasn’t encountered in the past. Don’t be discouraged if your plan and solutions don’t work immediately or require some refinement. You can approach it as an experiment – finding out what will work best for your operation and what doesn’t. Stay in touch with your advisors and with those in your operation who are helping execute the plan so you can communicate frequently and get real-time feedback around how things are going.

How are you navigating this market?

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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