In farming, we all know time is required for a seed to grow into a mature plant. We wouldn’t expect to see results immediately after planting the seed in the ground. We work diligently toward our longer-term goal: a mature plant and crop.
Throughout the growing season, we’re focused on making sure the crop is getting the best growth opportunities possible. It takes months of work before we finally get to the season we’re in now – harvesting the crop and discovering the results of everything we’ve done.
Investing up front
Often, it’s the same way within our farm business. We put in up-front work toward the longer-term goals we have for our operation. And while it takes months for our crops to go from seed to the results of a mature plant, within our business it often takes quite a bit longer – more in terms of years.
Working on specific areas within our business is worth the long-term results we can achieve, but can often take quite a bit of time and effort up front. That’s why it’s important to be very clear about our goals for the farm business, so we can invest our limited time and effort in a strategic way. Those longer-term goals help us figure out where we can invest right now to achieve the outcomes we want for the future.
I think of three major areas within a farm business where it’s critical for the leader to put in the effort with the long-term in mind. There can be short-term business wins within these areas, for sure, but overall, they’re more about winning in the long run.
- Communication. Putting in the work to build and improve our communication skills as a leader can benefit us in many areas. Strong communicators often find more success as they lead their employees. They use their skills to achieve desired outcomes with other business advisors and partners, such as lenders, landlords, dealers and vendors. Being a good communicator is certainly important in family relationships, as well, as many of us on the farm work closely with family members.
- Business Planning. When it comes to future results, the way to make sure the operation gets there is through creating solid, strategic business plans. This doesn’t mean plans can’t change along the way – in fact, they should be able to respond and adapt to changing conditions in and around the business. A plan provides direction and a compass toward your goals for the future and a map for how you’re all going to get there, together.
- Relationships. Many types of relationships are needed to succeed in the business of farming today. From family members to employees to advisors to lenders and landlords, different relationships may involve different types of goals, but there’s one thing in common – the need to build and maintain strong relationships for your business, with the future in mind. Plan to spend the right amount of time investing in key relationships for your operation – the farmers doing this well will find themselves reaping the rewards down the road.
This fall, consider where to begin focusing your long-term efforts during the winter season. Start getting the farm on track toward the future you desire. You can start by talking with a Water Street farm business advisor about your operation and your goals.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.