It’s no insurance against setbacks, but having a whole-farm plan in place can help your family stay on course when difficulties unfold.
“It’s often tough to communicate as a family because you tend to focus so much on the day-to-day business operations of producing a commodity,” says David Marrison, Ohio State University agriculture-natural resources Extension educator.
“It is valuable for the business to begin the planning process by reflecting on family and farm history,” he says.
“Valuable lessons can be learned by all the generations involved by examining past successes and disappointments.
“Setting goals establishes a plan of action for each area of business activity,” says Marrison.
“Set measurable goals that are short, mid, and long term.“Having a whole-farm business plan in place helps you stay true to your vision and the mission of the operation,” he says.“It helps you stay on course and not get lost in the weeds of not having a plan, especially when you’re facing big stressors like crop failures or tractor engines going down.” A whole-farm plan encompasses the breadth and width of your farm family’s business.“This is particularly important when bringing generations back to the farm.” This process helps your family determine the areas of responsibility to be allocated to each person.A lack of skill or experience in certain areas could suggest outsourcing some jobs.A business analysis takes stock of available land, labor, capital, management resources, profitability, business structure, operating procedures, and employee management.“After taking a snapshot of where the farm business is currently, the family business team should develop key goals for the future,” says Marrison.The underlying values and goals of the family unit should also be determined.While these values and goals often remain unspoken, they have a large impact on how family members treat each other and employees, and how they make business decisions.” “Each member of the farm business should conduct a self-assessment of his or her communication, financial, production, marketing, and management skills,” says Marrison.“It is important that each individual share his or her individual goals and skill-set assessments with the other members of the business during this process.Members can then work together to determine the responsibilities of each team member and to develop goals.” “A mission statement is a short statement describing the fundamental reason for the business to exist,” he says.