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6 questions to ask as you plan for 2018

Planning now can provide more time and opportunity to take action.

As harvest preparations are happening or you’re already rolling in the field, it might seem like a stretch to start thinking about planning for 2018. But I believe now is the time to start those plans.

When you think about planning for 2018, what goes through your mind? Is it: This year’s crop isn’t even in the bin yet – how can I possibly start thinking about plans for next year? Or maybe you already started your 2018 plan over the summer.

If you haven’t started just yet, you need to do so. The preparation can allow you to start making decisions now – that can help set you up for a better year.

Facing reality

You might have some concerns about the upcoming year – whether a financially successful year is possible for your operation. The key here is facing any concerns head on – not burying your head in the sand in fear of what you may find out.

A couple different things can happen when you know the reality of your situation. First, it could be better than you anticipated or imagined. If you’re the type of person who frequently plays out the ‘worst case scenario’ in your head, chances are this may be the case.

Or, the situation might not be pretty at all – in fact, it might be downright ugly. But being aware of reality now, rather than later, gives you more time and opportunity to take action – to make decisions to help change the outcome and move it toward what you want for your operation.

Get a jump start

If you have time in the combine this fall, you might use some of it to think about what you really want for the future of your operation – and what you must do now to make it happen. Start by answering these questions:

  • Think ‘big picture’ first. What do I want my operation to be like in five years? Ten years?
  • Drive with a purpose. Why do I want to work toward these particular goals? What’s the bigger reason behind what I’m doing?
  • Reality check. What’s our farm’s current financial situation? (If you don’t have a clear answer to this, consider working with an ag finance advisor.)
  • The coming year. What are my specific goals for 2018?
  • Plan for action. What are the actions I need to take now to achieve those goals? What are the areas I’m going to focus on? Where will I potentially want help and assistance as I figure out my action plan? What resources can I turn to?
  • Plan for accountability. Who is going to hold me accountable to take action and make the decisions I’ll need to make – to reach my goals?

Sometimes, just getting started can be half the battle. We might hesitate to look at 2018 because we fear what we may find, or simply are daunted by the choices and changes we may need to make. But really, 2018 is just another opportunity to improve our game as farm business leaders and keep making our operations better. It’s time to get started.

If you’d like some help with figuring out the numbers behind your farm’s current financial situation or someone to help hold you accountable as you create and carry out plans for 2018, you can get in touch with our advisors.

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

TAGS: Management
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