Rounding up a management team
WELCOME, Minn. -- We all recognize that farming is changing, and we sure don't manage our farms just like Grandpa and Dad did when we were going up. I remember my dad not trusting anyone to know his business affairs and being very close to the ve...
WELCOME, Minn. -- We all recognize that farming is changing, and we sure don't manage our farms just like Grandpa and Dad did when we were going up.
I remember my dad not trusting anyone to know his business affairs and being very close to the vest when talking to anyone about his costs and especially his income. He was pretty sure that the best banker was the one who asked the fewest questions and asked for the least amount of paperwork. He also was ready to make his own decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions.
Dad based many of his decisions on the articles in the latest issues of "The Farmer" and "Successful Farming" magazines. Once in a great while he would even visit with the county agent.
Successful farm operation and management is a very big job, requiring almost daily decision making. Those decisions impact our future success and our ability to support our family's needs. In farm management, we see that many of our more successful operators already have identified individuals who they rely on to help make important decisions. Those farmers are one step away from putting the frame work and structure together to form a formal management team. The management team is a valuable tool that will help you make the most of their expertise.
Gathering a team
To formalize your management team, identify the types of individuals you would like on your management team. A few suggestions might include legal council, a tax adviser, lender, crop consultant, livestock consultant, marketing consultant and a financial consultant (often a farm business management instructor).
Next, select an individual from each area that you have confidence in and trust. Whenever possible, your management team should not include individuals who are selling you products other than their professional services.
The next step is to talk with each person and ask them if they are willing to serve on your management team. Then bring them together for a team meeting, such as a noon lunch meeting, where you buy the lunch. Plan the agenda for the meeting and prepare handouts. Share your history, your mission statement, goals for the balance of your farming career, your transition or exit plan along with financial information. You may even ask each member of the team to speak briefly about the part they play in your operation. Look for ways to involve your family in this meeting. The goal is to get this group working together for the best interests of your operation, because all team members share a common goal of making you successful.
If you are interested in putting together your management team and would like some further ideas and advice, contact your local farm business management instructor. Find an instructor in your area at www.mgt.org .
Editor's Note: Griffin is a farm business management instructor with Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Welcome, Minn.