How planning ahead can lead your farm business to success
Being a successful farmer today means operating as a business. And one business practice that is easy to do but often ignored is goal setting. Clearly defined goals help you improve your outcomes and provide focus for you and your team.
With effective goal setting, you can do so much more than just get by on a month-to-month basis. It helps you weather financial storms caused by unpredictable seasons. It means that you can plan for prolonged pressures caused by droughts or market failures. And it allows you to see the bigger picture, as you work towards a long-term goal, which might be anything from establishing your operation as the producer of the UK’s finest beef, through to securing the financial future of your farm for generations to come.
Getting started with goal setting
When you’re setting goals for your enterprise, it’s worth putting aside a few hours with key stakeholders to review your current operation. Questions you might ask yourself include:
- What are we doing well?
- Where are we falling short?
- What are similar farm enterprises doing better than us?
- What do we want to achieve in the long term?
- What do stakeholders want personally?
- Are there any changes heading for the industry?
The goals that come out of the discussion won’t just be about increasing productivity or profits. Issues such as setting the farm up for succession, getting through future droughts or staff development could also arise. Everything should be on the table.
Short and long-term goals
When developing your goals, consider short-term goals, which you can achieve within weeks or months, as well as long-term goals, which may take years. Short-term goals that work towards the long-term goals become essential markers on the road to success and help to remind you you’re on the right track.
Potential short-term goals:
- Keep more accurate farm records
- Be prepared for your next audit
- Buy a bull or ram at the coming sales
- Improve pasture management
- Install a water monitoring system
Potential long-term goals:
- Have a succession plan in place
- Improve livestock performance/herd size
- Attain organic certification
- Increase calving or lambing rates
- Be better prepared to withstand drought
Reaching your goal
There’s a big difference between setting goals and making them happen. Some techniques to help you reach yours include:
1. Write the goals down
It sounds obvious but often gets forgotten. If goals are written down and displayed somewhere prominent, it will ensure that you keep them front of mind. We recommend adding these to the notes in the Farm Summary of the Mobile App for a regular reminder of what you’re working toward.
2. Make sure people ‘own’ the goals
If everyone involved in the farm operation has input into the goal-setting process, they are more likely to be invested in the process to get there. Personal goals that tie into the larger business goals will motivate them even more, no matter what their role.
3. Regularly review your progress towards goals
This is where it pays to have reliable records and measurable goals, whether it’s livestock weight gains or metres of fencing, which allow you to track your progress objectively.
4. Adjust or reassess your goals
If a goal becomes unattainable – because situations do change – don’t abandon it entirely or consider it a failure. Take the time to recalibrate and set new targets.
On the other hand, if you reach a goal well before you expected, it’s an indication that you could be bolder with your business plans. Sit down with your stakeholders, and consider what your greatest ambitions for your operation might be – then start another round of goal setting to get there.
In farming, it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks. With goal setting you can maintain perspective on what your farm operation really means to you. It can motivate you and your team when times are tough, and help you achieve long-term success.
This is a great time to think about what goals you’d like to achieve moving forward. If improving your record keeping and refining your tax time reporting is important to you, why not give AgriWebb a try now for free.