Think as the CEO of Your Farm

Finance First

Have you ever thought of yourself as sitting in the executive corner office? You should.

Published on: September 3, 2013

As you're working to grow and build your farm, you've probably started to think differently about the way you approach your business. You might think about certain things more, like your financial ratios and the succession plan for your farm – and the farm's future leaders.

You're thinking more and more as the CEO of your farm. And as that CEO, there's a lot to think about. In most growing operations, there are many moving parts and urgent matters requiring your attention at any given moment. You're busy all the time.

It's tempting to focus on whatever is going on right at the time – but a more balanced view can give you a wider lens. As a leader, you have to think about both the present and the future of your operation. Here are a few ideas to help you change your thinking.

Know the key financial metrics that show how your farm is doing – and track those results. As the CEO of your farm, you need to have your finger on the pulse of the financial heartbeat of the operation. You need to know what it will take to be profitable in a given year. You need frequently updated figures of your cost of production and projected revenues. Even in busy times, knowing key financials helps you keep the whole business on track to success.

Develop leaders, especially future ones. Most CEOs know who their successor leader will be. Do you know who will be the next leader of your operation? If you said yes, what are you doing to develop and grow his or her skills? If you don't yet know who it will be, you'll want to figure that out as part of a succession plan for your farm.

Having a succession plan in place allows an orderly transition to occur. It's a proactive step that lets you know that your business will live on. Figure out what your future leader is going to need to know to successfully guide the operation – and make sure they are brought in on opportunities to learn those areas.

Keep a balanced focus between the 'now' and the future. CEOs are always keeping an eye on what's coming next. You can't be focused only on the future of your farm, but you don't want to just focus on what's here and now, either. While you want your farm to succeed today, you're also planning for the future – in a strategic way – by developing your business and setting goals. It's a tough balancing act, especially with the urgencies of farming. Be intentional about setting aside time to think about and plan for the future of your operation.  Think like a CEO.