Farmers might be ultimate case study of the characteristics needed to be a business owner. It is not all fresh air and beautiful sunsets.
I absolutely enjoyed being raised on a wheat and sheep farm in Western Australia.
Farming is mostly a lonely existence. You work by yourself and receive crystal clear feedback on the decisions you make. Financial performance, the cycle of life and death and the long-term health of the land are clear to see and rely on your decisions.
Like other forms of business, achieving long term outcomes is more likely when realistic goals are set that allow unwavering progress towards an articulated future. Looking to achieve organic certification for products? Breeding super-fine merinos? Building reserves to buy more land? Repatriating degraded land? All are valid objectives that require different actions in the short term and long term.
But progress towards a goal is never linear. In addition to the business levers you manage, there are so many external influences. A drought, fall in commodity prices, equipment failure, or even ill health (you have to turn up to be a farmer) can derail the best plans.
How do you survive such unpredictability? By preparing.
A farming budget is a combination of long term (pay off debt), medium term (update equipment, replace fences) and short term (apply fertiliser, shear sheep) business objectives. And it needs to be conservatively managed. There is no guarantee of next year’s revenue, and when a better than average return is made it needs to be applied wisely.
When there is a deviation from the plan, a setback, resilience come to the fore. It is so much easier to gather yourself and refocus when the longer-term vision is clear. On a farm when a task needs to be done it has to be done.
Farmers also have to make pragmatic decisions on the use of their time. Servicing expensive technical equipment, undertaking specialist tasks (have you tried to shear a sheep?), long haul cartage, or preparing tax are best left to the experts.
It is not always about cost, but specialisation usually brings cost benefit.
Sometimes it is the benefit of achieving productivity, reducing complexity and being compliant that drives the relationship with reliable suppliers.
The Owner Operated Recruitment Agency
These owner operated businesses have the strategic intent of growth and continuous improvement. They understand sustainability issues and strive to reduce single points of failure. They have a good understanding of their core and critical functions and apply significant time and energy on these.
We founded Middle Office to work with these organisations. To work with business owners that are striving for strategic improvement and seeking reliable partners to handle complex and specialised tasks.
Let us learn from the farmers. Have a long-term vision, turn up every day and work hard, but also work smart. Partner with suppliers that provide a cost effective value-added service in areas where specialisation is rewarded.
Clear the mind and focus on those tasks where you can add value.
Photo by Rod Hore
Rod is a 40-year veteran of Australian and international IT and corporate advisory organisations. His executive-level credentials traverse many segments of the staffing and recruitment industry and include corporate advisory assignments, mergers and acquisitions mandates, and advisory to multinational and other public and private organisations. Located in Perth, Rod provides local industry acumen and global knowledge to recruitment agencies internationally.