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December 6, 2023
As we all know, marriage is not something to be entered into lightly. There are many parallels between going into business with someone and getting married. Just about half of all marriages and businesses fail over time. However, like a marriage, a farm business partnership can be successful if you find the right person and then work at it in the right way.
Sometimes, finding your potential farm business partner may involve bringing a family member into the farm or finding a farm colleague to partner with. Regardless, the elements of having the right business partner involve some of the following:
Similar values and goals. Most farm business partners need the same values and goals as pertains to work-life balance, risk tolerance, etc. For example, one partner may be solely focused on growing the farm while another partner may be comfortable with the way things are. In other words, while one partner likes to play to win, another may like to play not to lose.
Mutual trust and respect. Trust and respect are the foundation of any healthy relationship. Trust is believing in the reliability and truthfulness of another individual. It signifies having confidence that someone will act as expected or promised. On the other hand, respect is about holding someone in high esteem, valuing their opinions, and acknowledging their abilities or qualities.
Compatibility. As we know, some people just don’t seem to be compatible. However, people who are compatible in their communication, leadership and working styles can function better together to have a more successful farm business.
Complimentary skills and talents. Having a farm business partner can make the farm more successful because it gives the farm two or more brains instead of one. The best farm business partner is one who will bring a special skill set to the farm that you or others don’t have.
Conflict resolution. Partners will disagree with one another at some point and a decision will have to be made. It is important to find a partner who is willing to let go of his or her ego, solve a problem and maintain the relationship.
Money. Like in marriages, one of the most contentious areas in a business partnership can be money. A good farm business partner should be financially stable. In addition, there should be candid conversations about personal and business finances, how much time is expected, and how money will be distributed instead of reinvested.
Willingness to sign legal documents. A good partner should always be willing to sign legal documents to detail in writing the responsibilities of each partner and how the relationship may end on good terms. Think of it like a prenuptial agreement for the farm.
The decision to find a partner should not be taken lightly. Hopefully, this article helps you find the right farm business partner and take the plunge.
Schneider is a partner in the agricultural law firm of Twohig, Rietbrock, Schneider and Halbach. Call him at 920-849-4999.
Author’s note: For the past 50 years, Twohig, Rietbrock, Schneider and Halbach S.C. has focused on providing legal services to farms and agribusiness. The law firm’s commitment to the agricultural community will now be further solidified by its affiliation in 2024 with the attorneys of Menn Law Firm, who have become highly esteemed colleagues of our law firm over the past 20 years. The affiliation of these two firms, operating under the Menn Law Firm name, will preserve a legacy of caring for Wisconsin’s agribusiness and farmers who have come to rely upon our legal services. This affiliation will maximize each firm’s resources and legal talent and ensure that the two law firms can provide the broadest scope of legal services possible to best serve the farm community in the future.
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