When people ask me what I do, the shortest answer I can come up with is, “I help family-owned ag businesses professionalize their operations.” That doesn’t mean I think they are unprofessional before I arrive on the scene! Rather, I have seen that as businesses and families grow and evolve, they recognize that it will take different habits, structures, and skills to keep succeeding.
“Professionalize” is a catch-all phrase that captures putting more proactive attention toward your people and processes.
For example, our team of family business advisors at K Coe Isom is asked to help formalize roles and responsibilities among family and the entire organization. We help clarify expectations of the next generation of ownership and management and provide them the training to be successful at it—also known as succession planning! Long-term planning may include updates to estate plans and buy-sell agreements, or strategic planning for business priorities.
We help set up governance at the size and complexity that is right for each business, with the goal of making transparent and informed decisions. The “right size” governance varies from great management meetings, to specific ownership updates, to an Advisory Board, or to a full-blown Board of Directors.
We have helped hire and support the next level of talent the farm needs; for example, hiring for specific financial expertise in a CFO or controller. And sometimes, we simply help family members have the tough, uncomfortable conversations that are holding back their progress.
Peer group education
Besides working with individual farms, our team facilitates peer groups that provide executive education while learning from and with peers walking in your shoes. We work with farmers and ranchers all day, every day, and understand your business challenges. We’re not the agronomist or equipment expert or accountant that provides technical expertise. Our goal is helping clients combine the power of their team--working well together--with sound business strategy.
Working with my own family business shaped my perspective and passion for this work. I grew up on a cotton farm near Lubbock, Texas, and as an adult managed our cotton gin serving 100 farmer customers. I consider it an honor to help other family businesses evolve into the version that’s right for them.
In this blog, I’ll share what I’ve learned from working with ag families across the country. I hope to transplant the benefit of others’ experiences, so you aren’t reinventing the wheel. Thanks for reading!