Just like middle schoolers who complain of muscle aches and soreness, farm businesses can also face growing pains during significant growth periods.
“Growing pains are problems that occur as a result of inadequate organizational development in relation to business size and complexity,” says Allan Gray, director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University who spoke at The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers (TEPAP).
Source: Allan Gray, Purdue University
In working with farmers and ag businesses, Gray says the most common organizational growing complaints are:
- There aren’t enough hours in the day.
- Too much time “putting out fires.”
- Don’t know what others are doing.
- Don’t know where the firm is headed.
- Not enough good managers.
- “I have to do it if it is to be done right.”
- Meetings are a waste of time.
- Very little follow-up on plans so things don’t get done.
- Some feel insecure about their place.
- Sales are growing, but profits aren’t keeping pace.
“Every business has growing pains,” Gray notes. “You can recognize it and do things to improve it, but you can’t cure it.”
Gray encourages farm CEOs and managers to go through each example above and assess which ones might be occurring on your farm. Then you can work to put a professional management system in place to address these challenges. Solutions can include everything from strategic planning, organizational structure, management leadership development and corporate culture.
What growing pains have you experienced on your farm? How did you handle them? Let us know in the comments.