Sep 2, 2014
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Leave a Legacy

RSS By: Kevin Spafford, Legacy Project

Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project.  He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.

Change or Improve? It's Only Semantics.

May 20, 2014

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People are always resistant to change. However, we love improvement. In making something better there's a corresponding reward for taking a measured risk. Your farm is a business. It must grow or it will slowly decline. Improvements to the business may be likened to muscle development. A person can work a muscle, making it stronger, conditioning it to accomplish more work, or he can allow it to atrophy -- gradually tolerating a less relevant and useful existence.

When faced with a potential opportunity, such as a family member returning to work in the family operation, people often give pushback and react negatively. It's during these times we appreciate the status quo and see change as a threat to our very existence. But the real threat is the comfort zone we use to shield ourselves from change. Though never easy, change is a natural, normal manner of growth and development.

In a recent scenario, the active son in a family was approached by his younger sibling and brother-in-law who expressed an interest in joining the family operation. He was resisting the change and felt threatened by their inquiry.

I encouraged him to look at it differently and consider the possibilities. In this case, the farming father and son may be faced with a great opportunity. They have two willing and successful family members who want to help grow the operation. Though there are a lot of decisions that must be made before forming a partnership, the process to get there involves exciting activities that may prove to be stepping stones on a path toward greater success.

I recommended they start with a meeting. Make it formal; schedule a time, meet in a neutral location and follow a written agenda. During the meeting, they should discuss their respective interests and solicit the input of others. Talk about what is possible, what might get in the way and how the group may proceed to explore the opportunities. A meeting is not a decision. It's a discussion, a learning opportunity for all and a single step toward growing it forward.

For this family, an engaging beginning may be the Business Plan Discussion Guide among the resources found on eLegacyConnect.  

 

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