Make time this fall for future thinking

Before harvest ramps up, consider what impacts your operation the most.

As a farm leader, there’s typically a number of different priorities needing your attention at any given moment. Deciding what to focus on can be a challenge. It can be tough to know what we need to prioritize – what’s going to make the greatest impact or move the needle for the farm business the most.

The farm leader might wear any number of different ‘hats’ throughout the day – employee manager, agronomist, financial decision-maker, relationship manager – the list could go on and on. Because of the many hats the farm leader can and does wear – and the limited number of hours in a day – it’s important to be clear about what really deserves your attention.


There are an endless number of ‘fires’ you could be busy putting out each day, right? But that’s not the place where the farm’s leader can make the greatest impact on the operation. It’s in activities like setting a vision and planning for the farm’s future.

Along with the issue of determining where and how to spend our time as the farm’s executive leader follow these questions: What are the things we need to be focusing on most for the farm’s future? How do we know whether we’re currently focusing on the right areas for our farm’s best future – or not? And how do we know what we need to be doing today to create the kind of future that we want most for our farm?

Thinking about the future – the unknown – sounds complex, but we can get better at asking the right questions. We can start asking: What can create the biggest positive impact on our farm – that we have control or influence over?

Get intentional

I believe these are important questions to make sure we ask ourselves as we lead our farms. Even people who are naturally inclined to think and ask questions about the future must be intentional about this, or ‘fire-fighting’ will take over and consume our time.

Plan to set aside some time now, as you and your team prepare for harvest, to ask yourself some questions about the future of your farm. Then you can get started making action plans for the items you identify. Here are a few questions to start with:

-What do I need to be most aware of that may happen in the future?

-What impact(s) might it have on our operation?

-What changes do I need to be making now to prepare for future opportunities or to ensure that something won’t create a negative impact on our operation?

-What do I need to learn or better prepare for to be able to do that?

-What advisors do I need to have on my team to help me best prepare?

Read the new issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue features the story of a farm family who is working on a legacy plan to keep the farm in the family while maintaining family harmony, items to consider as you select an estate planning attorney for your legacy plan, and how to work toward increasing your operation’s efficiency. Get your free online issue here.

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

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