April 24, 2018
As the farm’s CEO, part of your responsibility is to guide the farm in terms of goals, priorities and plans. But those completely depend on where you want the farm to ultimately be in the future. Sometimes that future is clear – family members are coming back to the farm, who hope to eventually own and operate it.
Sometimes, it’s not that clear. Maybe none of your family members are coming back to the farm, or at least not yet. Maybe you’re not sure whether they will. Maybe you don’t have a ‘next generation’ and aren’t sure what the future is going to look like for your operation.
Even when the future seems to be clear – you already have a son or daughter who has come back to the farm and wishes to stay – there’s still a lot that needs to be done. There’s work to do in terms of picturing the future and determining how best to achieve your goals.
Many farmers know they have a general sense of what they’ll need to do to prepare the operation as they bring in the next generation. But they also might wonder or worry if the farm is on track toward getting to where it needs to be – in terms of financial goals, growth goals and developing leadership skills in the next generation.
Having someone to come alongside of you – as an advisor – can help with seeing the difference between where your farm is right now and where you want it to be in the future. The perspective of a third party can be helpful in terms of knowing where you’re at and ideas on how to get to where you want to be.
This can be key in helping the farm reach goals – anything from financial targets to preparing the next generation to lead. An advisor for the farm can help with goal-setting, prioritizing and then getting a timeline in place for the achievement of each step. They can check in to help you stay on track toward meeting your objectives.
Start with financials
Knowing where the farm is really at financially is the right first step. Working through the numbers with an ag finance advisor to see key financial ratios and metrics can be eye-opening and help in guiding goals and efforts along the way. For example, if the farm has the goal of growth while staying financially stable, there are several ratios the leaders will want to be watching and tracking.
The numbers will help set a realistic basis and starting point for the rest of your planning. The farm’s finances are a good reality check – and sometimes, depending on your personality, might be better than you think they’re going to be.
Getting a good future plan in place starts with having a solid idea of where you’re at right now. Working with the right advisors as your guides can make a big difference as you take your farm from where it is now toward the future you want.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.
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