Why is owning and operating a farm business such hard work. There are a myriad of areas in which farmers need to be an expert: marketing, production, mechanical repairs, workplace health and safety, pasture management, accounting and animal husbandry to name a few. Often farmers are so busy working in the business that often they forget to work on the business.

One way to work on the business is to invest  time in strategic planning for the future. Setting goals and developing a strategy for achieving them is just as important as sowing the crop or putting the rams out.

Owners and managers need to have a long-term vision for their farm business. Quite often clients have dreams and ambitions, plans for their business or property that look achievable after sitting in the tractor for twelve hours daydreaming about the possibilities but are they really attainable?

It is important in any business to document a series of goals. These goals may be personal: “I want to be retired in five years and caravanning around Queensland”.  They may be strategic : ” I want to buy the neighbouring farm by 2019″. They may be production goals: “I want to increase my flock twofold and use genetic markers in my ram selection”.

Documenting goals makes them real. It provides a point to work towards and allows family members, consultants and banks to share in the direction of the business.  There is a risk that other people working in the business may have different aspirations which will lead to conflict. It is better to open the lines of communication so that everyone is working towards  the same goals. A business will be stronger and perform better if all team members know the direction in which they are heading.

Achieving set goals is only possible if you know the exact position of your business now. Do you know exactly how many hectares of wheat were planted in April?  Do you know how many Ewes you have in your flock and what their fertility rate is? Have you calculated a pasture budget for the winter and spring? And most importantly, do you know what the balance sheet, profit and loss statement and the key financial ratios of your business are?

A snapshot of the farm business productivity and return on investment is supported by an evaluation of a farmer’s health and family relationships. It is now time to develop a plan to achieve the goals that have been set. Often clients are worried that plans and budgets cannot be changed. This is not so. It is far easier to change or amend a plan or a budget than to work without one.  Put in place a series of achievable steps that work to achieve the farm business, productivity and personal goals.

Owning and operating a farm business is hard. Working in the farm business is hard.  Working on the farm business is often harder but can deliver significant growth in performance, profitability and satisfaction .

'With all due respect for your horoscope, Mr. Jones, the outlook for wheat this year is ... '