Running an intergenerational farming business goes hand in hand with unpredictable production outputs, fluctuations in income and other financial and seasonal stresses. Being at the mercy of so many external factors can also lead to more personal stresses, such as feeling overwhelmed or a fear of failure.
‘Healthy, wealthy and wise’ isn’t just a saying – it’s now well known that your personal and financial wellbeing are closely intertwined.
The good news is, there are some everyday actions you can take to help build both personal resilience and a more resilient business.
In my experience, farming business owners who have developed personal resilience have the ability to move forward from adversity and take the necessary recovery steps with energy and a positive outlook. I have also witnessed how these abilities in a farm business owner are reflected in the way their business prospers in unfavourable conditions.
Here are three tips for building resilience.
#1 Share the burden
It can feel overwhelming to have to make constant decisions about scale of operations, production efficiencies, capital requirements, succession planning or the consequences of a poor season… and that’s OK.
One of the most important ways you can build resilience is by sharing the burden. When you have your nose to the grindstone, it’s easy to lose perspective or not know which way to turn. Sharing the burden will mean different things to different people. It can involve:
• The simple act of having a chat over a drink with your mates to talk through a decision;
• Staying socially connected;
• Implementing toolbox meetings to discuss major decisions and priorities with key employees or family members; or
• Taking full advantage of your professional networks, such as your stock agent, financial adviser and accountant; or establishing an advisory board to help you tap into a group with a wide range of experience to help you more effectively manage the challenges associated with your business.
#2 Keep the end game in sight
When you are constantly ‘putting out fires’ and dealing with market fluctuations, unexpected expenses or adverse weather conditions, it can be easy to become distracted and lose sight of the big picture. While the chips may be down now, it’s important to focus on the long term goals and objectives of the business.
Managing your business may involve compromises and setbacks in the short term so try to keep a balanced view and keep the long term in mind. This is where your trusted professionals can provide an arm’s length perspective to help you plan more objectively. Get some help at the beginning of the production cycle to review and renew your long term goals. This can help you identify improvements from the previous year, determine risk factors facing your business, check you have the right resources in place or set up your marketing strategies. Keeping the long game in mind will help you ride out the short term stumbling blocks that can otherwise seem so ominous.
#3 One step at a time
Farming businesses are physically and psychologically demanding and come with a significant workload which can leave you with feelings of not knowing where to start or wondering how to get through it all.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The same applies to managing your workload. While you may feel that is easier said than done, establishing a habit of regular toolbox meetings can be an effective way to identify priorities or financial and seasonal stress triggers, plan for improved efficiencies during peak production times or schedule maintenance activities. Toolbox meetings are also a great vehicle to be able to celebrate your success and achievements along the way, which is a vital part of maintaining resilience.
How we can help
One year at a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Adviser Update, I had the pleasure of hearing Dennis Hoiberg, a highly experienced emotional resilience consultant from Lessons Learnt Consulting, present on “Getting Your Act Together – three tips to get an effective ‘head plan’“. Dennis defines resilience as your ability to move forward, these tips are designed to help build strategies to strengthen your ability to do this.
Dennis’ presentation resonated strongly with me and as a farm and business consultant, I have seen firsthand the far reaching impact that a challenging business environment can have on the business owner’s mental health and wellbeing. It can happen to anyone. Just remember, don’t go it alone.
If you would like to discuss your business circumstances, I encourage you to contact me today on 08 8253 2906 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.
Phillip Dibben is a financial adviser with Active Financial Management. Active Financial Management and its advisers are Authorised Representatives of Fortnum Private Wealth Ltd ABN 54 139 889 535 AFSL 357306.
This information does not consider your personal circumstances (including taxation) and is of a general nature only. You should not act on the information provided without first obtaining advice specific to your circumstances.
Help is at hand
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