Farm's answers are in the questions you're asking

Asking the right questions about your farm business can bring better results

This winter, as you take some time to evaluate your farm business, you may find yourself coming up with more questions than answers. Or it might seem like those questions just seem to generate additional questions in your mind.

Related: Success in Business: Become a Life-long Learner

Many farms find they have a lot of questions as the farm's leaders start to pinpoint where the biggest challenges lie for the operation, and that's all right. It's important to first locate where the challenges are so the opportunities within the challenges can emerge.

The best solutions and innovative thinking for the operation usually happen when the farm's leaders take a close look at the business, find what could be improved, and then ask themselves: How can we take our farm to the next level? That's how a farm business can really move forward.

Taking action
Farms asking these questions are making time to focus on the business side of their operations – creating business plans and then putting processes in place to make those plans happen.

They're meeting together with the main stakeholders in the operation and asking: What areas on our operation could be improved? What new processes or ideas we could put in place to get better results on our farm?

One family decided to meet together for a couple days this winter to have these discussions. Over the past couple years, their livestock operation has rapidly expanded, and they're hoping to expand again in the near future.

They had been thinking about doing a business planning process, and decided that this was the right time. The older generation is hoping to retire within the next 10 years or so. They want to have a long-term business plan in place first, before they start creating a legacy plan for how the older generation will transition the operation.

Creating a plan
They included a couple key employees in the meeting, and they brought in an outside coach to facilitate the meeting and guide them as they created their future plans. During the two-day meeting, they made a lot of progress together. They all got clear on where the farm is heading by creating a vision and mission together.

Then they put together a long-term plan for the operation. Both the older and younger generation felt that have a business plan would allow them to start working on a transition strategy for how the older generation would be exiting the business in the upcoming years.

Related: Does the future of farming require different thinking?

They also had uncovered some challenges and opportunities for their operation, and created some ways and ideas to address those in their business plan.

What challenges and opportunities is your operation facing in the next few years, and the next 10? Take some time to ask yourself and others in your operation that question, and create a plan for how you'll address what you find. You can also read articles from our new winter issue of the Smart Series quarterly publication for more ideas on efficiency, innovation, and business planning.

The opinions of Darren Frye are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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