As you're leading and managing your farm business, there's a lot you need to pay attention to, all at once. World events that affect the markets, condition of your own crops as well as national conditions, upcoming weather forecasts, projections of your farm's financial situation, what's going on with your employees – the list can go on and on.
The way that the farm leader needs to act and be proactive is similar to this: Imagine a basketball player who is dribbling the ball down the court. A really good basketball player will have a very forward-looking mindset when it comes to what's going on in the game. And that mindset dictates the actions he or she chooses to take.
As the player moves down the court, head up, he's anticipating what could happen next. He's thinking about how the opponent to his left might try to steal the ball, and what he'll do if that happens. He's thinking about who he'll be passing the ball to, and who else he will pass to if that opportunity becomes unavailable. He forms these plans in his head every single time he dribbles the ball down the court toward his team's basket.
I think today's farm leader is in an environment that's similar to a fast-paced basketball game in several ways. The farm leader must be constantly aware of the situation that happening around him or her right now, anticipate what could happen next, and have plans and ideas in mind around what they would do if any one of those scenarios were to happen.
Then, when a sudden turn or change does happen, the leader is more prepared to act, even if it's not the exact scenario they had anticipated. They're more mentally prepared to act because they've thought through some of what could happen.
This is especially important on the farm, where things can change in an instant with the weather, markets, world economy or even a new government regulation. We can make plans for our operation for how we ideally want things to go, but we also have to be flexible and agile with those plans. We have to be ready to make needed changes. Without that flexibility, plans aren't worth much.
Build in flexibility
Think about a couple ways you can work to build more agility and flexibility into your farm's plans. What are one or two areas you can focus on taking a proactive mindset toward considering what might happen – and making a few different plans based on different things that may happen?
Here's another action you can take: learning how to create a financial dashboard for your farm. You can read it in the latest issue of our quarterly Smart Series publication, along with how to get conversations about your family farm's transition plan started, and a simple checklist method that can help you manage your employees' tasks.
The opinions of Darren Frye are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.