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Sometimes, you’re the only one who can make the final call.

Darren Frye, CEO

January 14, 2019

3 Min Read
Man standing on office chair in a field looking for direction

This year, as in any year in farming, there will be some major business decisions to make – choices that only the farm’s leader can ultimately make for their operation.

Many are the types of decisions farmers have always had to make: whether to buy or rent a piece of ground or not, when to sell grain, when not to sell grain, whether to buy a piece of new equipment now or repair the old one, whether to hire this person or whether to bring a family member back to the farm.

Feeling the pressure

In today’s continued downturn in ag, it often seems the pressure is rising. The stakes are getting higher, while the consequences of decision-making seem to be more important. Margin for error has become much smaller.

Farm leaders have been making big decisions for their operations for a long time. And often, they can feel alone when determining what to do. The choices have many impacts and implications, yet rest squarely on only their shoulders. It can feel like a large burden.

No one wants to make a poor decision for their farm operation. Of course we want our operation to push through and thrive long-term. But sometimes the combination of pressure and uncertainty and anxiety can lead us to do things like fail to pull the trigger or execute when we need to.

Smart decisions

Now is the time to prepare ourselves for the reality that, as farm leaders, we will probably face some major, tough decisions in our operations this year. And we may have to make those decisions without as much information, analysis or time as we would like.

The key is in knowing that we did our homework and “due diligence” ahead of time. We do our research and analysis, we think things through carefully and completely, as best as we can. We discuss the decision with others we trust and respect who are knowledgeable on the topic. And then we go ahead and make a decision we believe will be best for our operation.

No farm leader is always going to make the perfect decision for their operation. But it is possible to make smart decisions, based on the information you have at the time, for your particular operation’s needs and situation.

3 pieces in place

Prepare yourself to make smart decisions in the face of uncertainty. Get these three things ready ahead of time:

  • Reset and ready your mindset around why you may need to make certain big decisions for your operation. Knowing the “why” can help make a difference when it’s time to act.

  • Prepare your process. How, exactly, will you go about making a particular decision? Get any resources ready ahead of time. Plan out time to do necessary research.

  • Put a team of advisors around you. Anxiety and uncertainty are often compounded when we know we ultimately have to make the decision. Make sure you have a trusted advisor or small group to talk with about your options and what to consider in your decision.

One area where many farmers say it can be tough to make big decisions is around their grain marketing. Having a team of advisors can help. Talk with our market advisors this winter about the big decisions you’re facing.

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

About the Author(s)

Darren Frye

CEO, Water Street Solutions

Darren Frye grew up on an innovative, integrated Illinois farm. He began trading commodities in 1982 and started his first business in 1987, specializing in fertilizer distribution and crop consulting. In 1994 he started a consulting business, Water Street Solutions to help Midwest farmers become more successful through financial analysis, crop insurance, marketing consulting and legacy planning. The mission of Finance First is to get you to look at spreadsheets and see opportunity, to see your business for what it can be, and to help you build your agricultural legacy.

Visit Water Street Solutions

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