Today’s farm businesses face many challenges – and opportunities – that your dad or grandpa’s farm simply didn’t encounter. Since then, and especially in recent years, I’ve seen many farmers step up to take on those challenges – with diligence and dedication.
This farming environment certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. But the farmers who are committed to running their businesses better are taking these challenges head-on. They’re proactive instead of reactive – asking: What’s the biggest challenge or obstacle right now that’s keeping me from moving my farm forward?
They’re taking action to become more effective and successful. They’re bringing in the tools, resources and expertise to help take their farm to the next level.
The farm CEO
These farmers are truly business-minded. They look at their operation as a business and make decisions in an analytical way, as the CEO of their farm. They know that what made their dad or grandpa successful at farming won’t necessarily be what helps them make their farm successful.
The farm environment is changing, and these farmers are working to stay on top of everything they need to. At the same time, they’re keeping the meaning and tradition that makes farming and the farming lifestyle so fantastic.
They also preserve the joy that’s part of farming – getting to work outside, being your own boss and the variety that comes with getting to do something different nearly every day.
Like most business leaders, farm leaders can have moments of fear or anxiety – for example, fear of failure or anxiety around not being able to capture an opportunity well enough or at the right time.
But the best have put processes in place for decision-making and have resources to draw upon – such as trusted advisors – who can help with advice, expertise and guidance to move the farm forward. These farmers make sure the right plans and structures are in place – the who, where, when, what and why – to help the farm drive toward the future they envision.
I believe one of the biggest challenges in planning for the farm’s future is often around creating and using financial plans for the farm. These plans are forward-looking projections – not just tax records or the farm’s books. Historical records can only tell you about the decisions you’re made in the past – but don’t really help you plan for the future.
Sorting it out
Forward-looking financial information can be adjusted in real-time to help in understanding how a potential decision would impact the farm’s financial situation. It can help illustrate the best decision for the farm when you’re sorting out different alternatives.
But first, of course, you need this type of information about your operation. It’s also key to have a trusted advisor on your side to help interpret what those numbers are telling you.
What are the biggest challenges or obstacles my farm is facing right now with regard to our goals?
Do I have forward-looking numbers and projections to help me run my operation?
Do I have advisors who understand the goals I have for my farm – and who have the expertise and ability to help me see what I can do to reach my goals?
You may want to consult with an ag finance advisor to talk about what your farm is facing in this ag environment – and start getting a plan in place to courageously meet those challenges.
Read the current issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue includes perspectives on what to do when a landlord asks for higher rent, how to find the right new employee, a farm business checklist for the spring season, and more. Get your free online issue here.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.