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Tap into these 3 groups for problem-solving ideasTap into these 3 groups for problem-solving ideas

Finance First: Employees, networks and advisers can provide perspective.

Darren Frye

June 5, 2023

3 Min Read
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When you’re leading a farm operation, at times it can seem like there’s no shortage of problems to solve. Those challenges can range from small and simple – to the most major, complex issues that a farm can face.

As a leader, it can often feel like solving the farm’s challenges are all your own responsibility. And it’s true that the ultimate responsibility for solving certain problems in the operation do lie with the leader – because the buck stops with them.

But taking too much responsibility and feeling like you need to solve all the challenges in the operation single-handedly can often lead to other issues like worry, anxiety, or even burnout. Those aren’t good for the leader – or for the farm operation as a whole. So what can a leader do?

Be resourceful

Part of leading a farm business is trying to be as resourceful as you can – and that’s true when it comes to solving problems in the operation. There are several different groups of people leaders can draw from when it comes to providing insight into challenges that the farm is facing.

It’s important to first consider which group or groups are the right ones to call upon when it comes to a particular challenge. The best group will depend greatly on the level of the challenge, who knows about the problem in a deep, knowledgeable way, and any confidentiality or privacy concerns that need to be considered.

Three groups

Here are three groups that farm leaders can consider as resources when facing a tough challenge in the operation.

  1. Your employees: For certain problems, your farm’s employees might actually be ‘closest’ to the problem. What I mean by that is they may be the ones with unique insight into an issue – and might also have helpful ideas about how to solve the problem. Some leaders might not think of asking their employees for ideas about challenges on the farm, but that can create an untapped resource. When you’re dealing with a problem where your employees might have a unique perspective, asking for their thoughts on possible causes and solutions might generate new insights in general – or potentially even create the solution.

  2. Your networks: Other problems might lend themselves better to be discussed with people in your network. That could be within local groups, peer groups, groups through social media, or simply with other businesspeople or farmers that you know via other avenues. It can often be helpful to hear from other farmers who may have faced similar problems in the past to what you’re facing now. This can help provide a broader perspective. The downside can be that some issues with a higher confidentiality level wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss with people in your network or might not be right for you if you tend to be very private about your operation. Also, people in your network could have a high level of understanding of your particular operation – or very low.

  3. Your advisers: Certain challenges or issues in your operation are going to lend themselves best to discuss with your farm’s advisers. This might be your lender, market adviser, financial adviser, attorney or others, depending on the nature of the problem. Your advisers have insight into your operation and also have special expertise in the area you’ve hired them for – which can make them especially helpful for certain farm challenges. When the level of challenge and complexity is high, the need for privacy and confidentiality is high, and the person needs to know your operation well, working with an adviser is a great choice.

Marketing in 2023

Farmers have found that getting some third-party perspective from our market advisers has helped ease their minds. The advisers 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 adviser 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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