Across the Editor's Desk: Mid-March 2009
Attendees at the Farmers for the Future Conference in St. Louis last February harvested a bumper crop of ideas to take home and put to work. Successful Farming magazine and Agriculture Online presented the conference. DEKALB was the sponsor. Here are just 10 of the broader themes I took away from the meeting. Look for a complete report in your May-June issue.
- Follow up your dreams with a written plan
Words on paper provide clarity and direction. Saying the words aloud to another person helps you crystallize the specific goals and outcomes your plan is intended to achieve.
- Look for other opportunities
Agriculture offers more diverse ways to make money than ever before. While your heart may be set on three or four enterprises of which you are very familiar, don't rule out other opportunities. As a matter of practice, study the feasibility and profitability of a new enterprise every year. You'll eliminate most of them, but you never know when one will be worth pursuing.
- Build an attitude for success
Your attitude may very well determine your success as much as your farming skills. Getting a loan or acquiring land is not easy. It is even harder if you don't believe you have a chance. Being thoroughly prepared helps give you confidence. Even if you are not outgoing, be positive.
- Hone your people skills
People and communication skills are more important than ever. The payoff is most critical at home. Talk to your family and make it easy for them to talk to you. Good writing skills help you keep your landowners, lenders, and other business partners informed. Good communicators have an advantage in furthering their farming goals.
- Make your farm as special as a business
No doubt you love farming. Learn to love your operation as a business in the same way. Embrace the many financial tools that help you make sound and confident decisions. Measure what matters, then apply the practices that help you lower costs and widen your margins. Learn to talk as comfortably about your numbers as you do your practices.
- Know your strengths
Spend most of your time doing the things you do extra-ordinarily well. But also know the areas in which you need help.
- Build your reputation for things that matter
Three stand out: integrity, being really good at what you do (farming), and building genuine long-term relationships.
- Try new things
You are good at more things than you can imagine. Take a little risk. As some business managers put it, "Do a little, learn a lot."
- Balance family and farming
Being successful in farming will never mean as much unless you are successful at home and in your family life, too. Strive for balance and measure success in more than dollar signs. Deliberately learn about personality types and how best to interact with people, especially your own spouse and children.