Define your farm’s mission to develop a business plan
In addition to identifying a ranch’s cattle, a brand is a symbol—a badge of pride, honor and loyalty. What does your operation’s brand or farm name represent?
As your family develops your operation’s succession plan, you must fully define your purpose, says Jim Whitt, a consultant and author of several books that help people and businesses reach their full potential.
"Purpose is the No. 1 thing you have to identify in life and business," he adds.
A unified and clear purpose helps everyone reach their full potential and know how their role on the farm is important.
"Without a purpose, our only motivation is reward and punishment," Whitt says. "We all want to be partners in a cause that is purposeful, heroic, adventurous and idealistic. Just like the cowboys of yesteryear, we want to ride for the brand."
As a team, discuss and detail your operation’s purpose. Use the PS2 model, Whitt says. An effective purpose should be:
- Positive: How does your farm operation impact the world?
- Powerful: Does your purpose create excitement and passion?
- Simple: Can you tell me what your purpose is in one sentence?
- Serving: How is your operation serving the needs of others?
In writing. Use your defined purpose as the centerpiece of a business plan. Whether it is a simple one-page document or a multi-volume series, a plan tells your farm’s story, says Karisha Devlin, a University of Missouri Extension agriculture business specialist.
"A business plan can serve as a road map for your business by defining your goals and objectives," she says. "You are saying who, what, when and where as far as what you produce, how you are going to market it and the financing behind your business."
As part of the succession planning process, a business plan is vital. "You are not setting up the next generation to be successful if you keep everything to yourself," Devlin says. "Putting everything down on paper helps everyone feel like a team and understand the direction the operation is going. It leads to more efficiency and profitability."
After you develop your plan, be sure to use it. "Don’t just stick it on a shelf and forget about it," she says. "Remember to revise it." When circumstances change, make sure your plan reflects the new situation.