Are You Operating as a Business or a Lifestyle?

10:00AM Sep 18, 2019
Banker Meeting
Look hard at 2020 and beyond, especially if you plan to transition the farm to your next generation.
( Farm Journal )

In a recent meeting, one farmer looked across the table to another and asked a tough, pointed question: “Are we running a business or a lifestyle?” The room grew silent. It turns out the question was simple, but the answer wasn’t. In a year that, at least for some parts of the country, was labeled #noplant19, it comes as no surprise growers are frustrated. This has been one of those years that has caused many growers to ask the question above.

It’s the tough years that often force us to examine our pain points and get real. This question is important. When I work in coaching situations, I often ask it, knowing the answer is there, but it’s often so far down inside no one has bothered to ask it, let alone answer it. So, why not take stock this harvest season?

Understand Your Why Look hard at 2020 and beyond, especially if you plan to transition the farm to your next generation. While it can be uncomfortable, it is healthy, appropriate and just plain smart, to pause and ask big questions.

Why are we farming? Why do we want to continue our farm? Does our business model make sense for next year, the next five years and beyond? Why haven’t we made the necessary adjustments to improve?

I call this approach, "Finding Your Why.” Whether you’re the leader of the business or you’re taking the helm, you owe it to yourself, your family and employees to be clear on your purpose. Tough times make it especially important to have a guidepost. So, go ahead and get real this season. Put down your smart phone and turn off that yield monitor. Step outside and overturn a few rocks. You’ll find your why.


Answer these six questions to identify your operation’s pain points.

1. Why do I farm? Or, why did I come back to the farm?

2. Is farming the career of my choosing?

3. What is the most satisfying element of farming? Will I be able to maintain that going forward?

4. Why is farming important to me?

5. What is my greatest fear about the next year and the future of this business?

6. What important business decision or action am I putting off?

Sarah Beth Aubrey’s mission is to enhance success and profitability in agriculture by building capacity in people. She provides executive coaching as well as peer group and board facilitation.