When it comes to goals for our farm business, we can think about that on a very high level or on a step by step, concrete level. And we need to be able to use each type of thought at different times in order to help our farm business succeed.
In this blog, though, I want to zoom out and look at the big picture of the farm business to ask: What are the most critical goals that we must be aiming for in order to help our business thrive and improve? With that in mind, here are three basic concepts I believe farm leaders must be aware of and address for their operations to thrive long-term.
#1: Know and communicate your farm’s vision
As a farm leader or as a leadership team, you must have a sense of purpose and direction for the overall farm business. Without an answer to the question “Where are we going?”, the people on your farm’s team will have a sense of being lost, or at least of not knowing what they should be working toward in a larger way.
If you or your leadership team hasn’t yet created a vision for your operation, you can start by getting together to discuss and answer questions like these: Where do we see our operation in five years? 10 years? 20 years? Why do we farm? What do we want our farm to be in the future? Then you can lay that out more formally and communicate it to others in your operation.
#2: Work to become the low-cost per bushel producer
To be competitive in a commodity business, we must work to become the low-cost per unit producer. In the case of grain farming, this means becoming the low-cost per bushel producer. It’s not enough, especially in this era of tight margins, to be a low-cost per acre producer. We must look at how much it actually costs us to produce each unit (bushel).
You may already be doing this in your operation, but how can you measure and ensure that costs are kept as low as possible on a per bushel basis? Continually working to become more efficient on that per bushel basis will help your farm business stay competitive long-term, if you keep working at it.
#3: Keep learning and address any weaknesses
No matter how great we are as leaders and how great our farm operation may be, we all have weaknesses – and so can our farm business. It’s so important to have self-awareness of areas we don’t know as much about or where we aren’t doing as well as we would like. No one can be good at everything – and as a farm leader where we’re expected to be able to know and do so much in so many areas, this rings true.
Knowing ourselves and being able to surround ourselves and our operation with the right resources at the right time is the mark of a mature leader. Wise leaders observe both themselves and their operations carefully, note where things aren’t going as well as they hope, and then seek resources for assistance.
One area where many farmers have reached out for support is around creating marketing and merchandising plans for their operation. Talk to an advisor for the farm today about any goals or concerns you have for your operation’s success this year.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.