Working on Your Business in 2014

What goals do you have for your farm in 2014?

The holidays are over, the new year has started – and so have the New Year's Resolutions. It always seems that many people who make traditional resolutions at the beginning of the year end up breaking them. I recently read about how that failure is more likely if the resolution-maker doesn't turn the resolution into a goal with manageable steps to follow.

We all start out with good intentions – those may even last a few weeks or months. But then there are some problems that we haven't planned for or inevitable setbacks that happen along the way. If we don't see ourselves making any progress, the resolution goes out the window.

Instead of making a resolution for your farm business this year, consider creating a goal – or goals – with set dates and timelines for achievement. You'll be more likely to achieve a goal when you break it down into smaller, more manageable steps and are able to track your progress in some way.

In a farm business, we're more inclined to spend time in the areas that we're passionate about. For many farmers, this is production. Much of our energy and even the goals we set are usually in that area because we enjoy it.

It's good to be passionate about production, because that's what you do. That's why you grow a great crop or have an excellent livestock herd. But what about the business side of your farm? Could it benefit from a little more of your time and attention this year?

Setting some goals around the business side could provide great benefits to your farm. Your goals could focus on some areas you've always wanted to work on but haven't felt you had the time to really dig into.

Maybe that's on the finances of your farm, getting some help with identifying where you can invest in improvements that will bring your farm the greatest payback. Maybe it's getting a legacy plan in place for what's going to happen when the farm goes through a transition. It could be focused on getting the right people on your team.

Pick one or two areas to set some goals for the business side of your farm in 2014. You might seek some insight on your goals from others who are experts in a particular area. You might want to consult with a financial advisor who can help you identify gaps and areas of opportunity in your farm business. Or if getting a legacy plan in place for your farm is your goal, you'll want a legacy advisor and an ag estate planning attorney to help you.

What goals are you going to set for your farm business in 2014? And more importantly, how are you going to go about achieving them this year?

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