Farmers are fond of hats. If you ask, you'll find that each one is reserved for specific occasions. They're rarely interchangeable. But when it comes to managing a family business, two hats compete for face time.
"As the boss in a family business, you have two hats: the parent hat and the leader hat," says Jolene Brown, a West Branch, Iowa, farmer and farm adviser. "The challenge is you can only wear one hat at a time."
Your family is at the heart of farming, and it's a powerful business asset. But it can be an Achilles' heel if you don't build the business on a foundation of shared goals and objectives, or implement written agreements to facilitate successful entry, succession, and exit.
Successful ownership, leadership, management, and succession are critical to multi-generation farm businesses.
"Farming can only be a way of life for those who treat it as a business," says Jolene Brown, keynote speaker for Generating Success: The Future of Your Farm Business Now. The conference, sponsored by Successful Farming magazine and Stine Seed Company, is set for August 11-12 in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Brown is a certified speaking professional sought out for her tell-it-like-it-is advice on strengthening family and business relationships. She promises to create a stimulating climate of on-site learning and to provide real-life tools that you can take home to finish the job. Challenging topics include:
- The Top 10 Stupid Things Families Do to Break up Their Family Business
- What Good Businesses Get in Writing
- Finding Good Farm Business Advisers
- Strategies to Communicate and Reward Farm Partners
- The Business of Hiring and Firing Family Members
Brown will be joined on the program by Jane Jenkins Herlong, a former Miss South Carolina who grew up working in her dad's tomato fields in Edgefield County. Herlong is a certified speaking professional who will share her uptown humor and down-home farm experiences. Following dinner, Herlong, a professional singer and recording artist, will offer a medley of big band classics and gospel favorites.
Don Jonovic, founder of Family Business Management Services, Cleveland, Ohio, and popular Successful Farming magazine columnist ("Can Their Problem Be Solved?"), will team up with Brown. His topic is "Generating a Succession Team: Planning and Pulling Together to Succeed as a Family Farm."
"Operating a family farm business is like crewing a raft down a rapids-filled river," Jonovic says. "It's not a good place for self-serving heroes, and there's no room for spectators. It's exhilarating and inspiring, but it can also be a life-or-death situation. All are in it together. The same is true on a family farm. If a family is going to reach its goals successfully, all members will have to understand and share objectives. And above all, they have to learn to paddle together in teamwork and harmony."