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Make time for business planning

Betty Berning

In the midst of milking cows and making hay, management activities, like working on a transition plan for the farm or writing up an animal welfare policy, are frequently set aside. That is why it is so important to schedule time (ideally weekly) to work on these strategic activities. Just like an exercise program, it takes discipline to commit to a regular time to work on farm business management.

Management of your business is important. By carving out time to regularly work on your business strategy and goals, you set the course for your farm and can proactively respond to changes. This can help your farm to survive in the future.

Every farm needs a business plan

Are you new to farming? Or expanding or making major changes to your farm?

A business plan is a statement of business goals and a roadmap to how those goals will be achieved. Think of it as a blueprint for your farm. It sets the direction of where your business is headed in the future.

By creating a plan, you can effectively communicate what your farm is about to others. Do you farm with family members? A business plan can help all of you discuss and align on goals for your farm. Do you work with a lender? Your farm’s plan can be shared with your lender to help them understand your farm’s vision and goals.

It takes time to write your first plan. After you have a plan in place, though, it becomes a living document. If you want to make changes to it, it is easy to update. Because it is an important piece of your farm’s business, you or your leadership team should write this document. You know your business best and can best describe its goals.

There are several sections to a business plan:

Tools to help you plan

There is a great tool available from the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota called AgPlan. This tool will help you create your own business plan for your farm. There are tutorials and resources available that provide in-depth detail on each of these sections. It can help you determine what you want to include in your plan. It also allows you to share your plan with others, so that you can edit it between family members and business partners.

By completing a business plan, you begin to shape your farm’s strategy. This exercise will help you identify where to spend your management activity time. Take time every week to work on becoming a better manager. With discipline, you will find the time to do this and your farm will benefit.

September 23, 2017

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