Glass half empty or half full? It matters to farm business – by Terry Betker

Is the glass you’re looking at half full or half empty? I think farmers are inherently optimistic, even though when you talk to them, you’ll hear things aren’t going well.

Weather, prices, employees and maybe family can be challenging and can dominate a farmer’s mindset. But it seems to me that anticipating next year will be as good or better than the current year is a necessary foundation from which to work. Can you imagine what the landscape would look like if the predominate thinking was that next year would be worse?

There is an increasing amount of focus on balancing the work- life equation. Here’s another balance to consider: the glass half full-half empty balance. What are your realities? What’s happening on your farm and in the greater agriculture environment that warrants your attention?

It’s easy to get caught up with the busy-ness of farming. I suggest that you purposefully pause what you’re doing on the farm and look at the glass that’s sitting on your desk.

If your glass is half full, there’s a good chance your realities are associated with more positive or potentially positives outcomes. This situation is obviously easier to deal with than the alternative.

If your glass is half empty, what are some of the challenges you’re facing or anticipate facing in the future? Identifying the challenges and actively working at resolution can be pivotal to the longer-term sustainability of the farm.

The worry here is that the challenges will usually not resolve themselves. Focusing on the business in front of you and not taking time to actively think about looming challenges can have significant and negative impacts on your farm.

If your outlook is typically more glass half full, you should purposely challenge your own perspectives to determine what minefields might be on your horizon that aren’t getting your attention.

There may be challenges that can affect your business but are outside your control. It can be beneficial to identify those challenges but then set them aside and focus on the things you can control. These are the really important things, not the day-to-day challenges. They are often referred to as critical issues.

Critical issues are defined as things that are extremely important to the farm business and ultimately the farm family. They connect present and future performance and related accomplishments. These key factors are highly correlated to achievement of a vision.

Typically, issues critically important to the success of a business are those for which actions can be taken. For example, weather may be a critical issue for many farms but specific action may not be possible.

A critical issue, in most situations, does not have an obvious solution. If it does, likely the issue identified deals with a symptom and not the root of the issue. Not addressing an issue at its root will result in actions planned and taken but not necessarily aligned with what needs to get done. They are things that you, your family or your management team must get right to successfully achieve short and long-term objectives.

There are benefits in identifying issues of critical importance to farm success.

Coming to consensus on the issues will help prioritize what needs to be done. The day-to-day urgencies of managing a farm tend to take priority but without identifying what’s important in the longer term, what gets done may not necessarily be what needs to be done.

Determining a farm’s critical issues can help mitigate potential conflict stemming from disagreements on what family members think is important, especially from a farm business management perspective.

Identifying challenges that are of critical importance on your farm can be difficult. Try to look in each of the main management areas: operations, marketing, human resources and finance. Narrow a list to three to five issues. If the list is too long, there may not be enough time to spend on each issue.

I’ve seen farm businesses note critical issues and six months later, I see no progress made on resolution. They may have worked very hard and been very busy, but to what end?

On the other hand, I’ve observed farms where the issues were identified, specific action was taken and evidence of progress made.

We’re approaching the end of the 2022 production year. Decisions for 2023 are already being made. I can’t stress enough the importance of spending time thinking about those three or four things on your farm that, properly identified and addressed, could really make a difference in achieving longer-term outcomes.

If you would like to speak to one of our consultants about this topic contact us.

Let us help you take your operation to a higher level.

Register now for The Next Chapter of Your Farming Journey – November 12th and 13th 2024 in Regina, Saskatchewan
Register now for The Next Chapter of Your Farming Journey – Nov. 12th & 13th 2024 in Regina, SK