Farm Progress

Difference makers

Bench strength is what matters when it comes to building your farm.

David Kohl, Contributing Writer, Corn+Soybean Digest

June 26, 2018

2 Min Read

I participated in a webcast the other day during which a participant posed a thought provoking question. “What are the difference makers of successful farm businesses versus those that fail to cut it, particularly in this part of the economic cycle that is proving to be quite challenging?”

In the era of $8 per bushel corn and beans in the upper teens, even the bottom third of farms in the farm record databases were making money. This resulted in inefficiencies and growth in both fixed and variable costs. Some business owners were on a quest to grow their businesses at all costs. Now, at the other end of the cycle, the difference makers are really standing out.

Regardless of the status of the economic cycle, the difference makers know the power of alignment. They are very keen at aligning land, labor, capital, and information resources with an efficient, productive, and effective work culture comprised of talented people.

The third leg of the alignment stool is that they will align resources and talents to the needs of an ever-changing marketplace. At a recent educational experience behind the scenes at Disney World, I discovered that 95 percent of success is about alignment of these three critical elements: resources, talent, and the marketplace.

The difference makers are engaged, seeking new ideas and innovations that can be customized to their businesses. They often work with teams of advisors that provide outside perspective, but are allowed to monitor operations to provide constructive advice. Usually, the difference makers are just a little bit better in many business components, but when summed up represent a considerable amount to the bottom line, work culture, or overall quality of work life balance.

The difference makers are good at building bench strength. They realize it may take a decade to develop this bench strength and it requires different experiences inside and outside the business. This is particularly true with the next generation. Growing people is just as important as growing crops and livestock. The time invested in these areas pays off into the future. While one could add many more suggestions to this list, this article is enough to whet your appetite!

About the Author(s)

David Kohl

Contributing Writer, Corn+Soybean Digest

Dr. Dave Kohl is an academic Hall of Famer in the College of Agriculture at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. Dr. Kohl has keen insight into the agriculture industry gained through extensive travel, research, and involvement in ag businesses. He has traveled over 10 million miles; conducted more than 7,000 presentations; and published more than 2,500 articles in his career. Dr. Kohl’s wisdom and engagement with all levels of the industry provide a unique perspective into future trends.

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