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Farm success: Is it all in the details?

GaudiLab/ThinkstockPhotos Aerial view of green farmland
Resilience, efficiency, openness to learning lead to success.

Today, I want to talk for a minute about the amazing resilience and perseverance of farmers. All farmers face challenges in the everyday work and life of farming. Yet, they choose – again and again – to simply carry on. Their passion for farming and for the land, to carry on a family legacy and a business they love and to hopefully one day pass along that love for the land to the next generation of farmers keeps them going.

This is a very “different” business than you will find in corporate America and even than many other family-owned businesses. They say farming tends to “run in your blood.” It definitely makes for a special vocation – and way of life that comes along with it.

Determined and diligent

Over the past five years or so, most farmers have come up against added challenges due to the continued down ag economy. Yet, the majority have been successful. Instead of living in frustration and bitterness about low prices and weak margins, farm leaders have been determined and diligent, working to become more efficient in critical areas of their businesses.

They have planned carefully, sifting through the numbers to find additional ways to make things work, even when it seemed like everything possible had already been done. As a result, many farmers broke even or made money last year.

Instead of becoming bitter, these farmers are working hard to keep getting better. That’s the type of mentality that, ultimately, makes you a better manager of your business in the long run. And that’s what makes your business thrive long-term.

Bankers know this, too, as pointed out in this recent article. When bankers see a farmer adapting their operation for success and becoming a better business manager, they know that operation has a strong chance of being very competitive in the future. Strong business skills are honed in the hard times, and they’re taking notice.

The other side

Everything, however small, that you can do to help your business reduce spending and become more efficient adds up to success. But there’s the other side of the equation, too – revenue. And this might be the side that still needs a closer look.

Farmers who focus on getting better as business managers will want to spend some time – right now, while conditions are still challenging – educating themselves on the marketing and merchandising tools that are available. Now is the time to learn how to take advantage of opportunity – and that starts with reviewing and reflecting on how you have created and executed marketing plans in the past.

You might work with a market advisor to help you analyze any patterns or trends in how you’ve usually gone about handling marketing. Do you use a variety of tools, or tend to stick to certain ways of doing things?

What areas and concepts could you learn more about? Where could you still make improvements in your business in terms of how you create and execute marketing plans? Who can you turn to for education and help with putting together a plan?

 The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

TAGS: Management
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