Planning Tips and Tricks

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”
Alan Lakein

Ladder wrong wall

Planning is a critical function of business management. Success and failure both start with planning and goal setting. Planning encompasses all the activities which determine the future direction or course of action of your operation. Planning includes what activities will be completed this afternoon to what will be grown on a certain piece of ground in four years. In agriculture the activities of today play a vital role in tomorrow’s success. Crop rotations, equipment purchases, buying livestock, and forecasting future crop/livestock prices are all examples of the importance of planning. We all understand the importance of planning, but what can we do to make planning more effective? The following are a few planning pointers-

1-Remember that any plan can be changed. Do not be stuck in analysis paralysis.

2-Identify a mission statement for you farm or organization.

a.What is the most important aspect of your farm or organization?
b.What do you want your customers to say about you?
c.Know where you want to be in one year, three years, five years, and fifteen years and why.

3-Prepare a farm map; create a historical and projected crop rotation plan.

4-Record the crop history of your farm, analyze key factors affecting crop yields.

5-Keep a record of product costs such as fertilizer and chemicals, even those you did not use this year. There might be a more price effective fertilizer available.

6-Tour other farms, see what they are doing and why. An example, I learned while I was employed with a large farm-

Grain transportation was always a major headache, the grain bin capacity was inadequate, and the farm relied on the railroad to ship the grain out in order to keep the harvest flowing. We always had to stop the harvest and wait for a day or two due since there was no room left in the grain bins, and the railroad cars were late to arrive.
I went back to the farm a few years later and noticed a whole lot of white ag bags full of grain. I was so impressed; these ag bags were actually grain bags, but the same concept. The grain was bagged at the edge of the field and hauled to the grain bins when there was room and trucks available. That one simple exercise lowered the freight expense and kept the grain harvest rolling.

7-Create a marketing plan.

8-Anticipate future problems and solve them now, that way the decision has already been made before the problem overshadows your judgment in the heat of the battle.

9-Remember that every forecast is going to be wrong and that is ok. Even a wrong forecast is better than no forecast at all.

10-Record the difference between the forecast and actual price or activity. Identify the major drivers, in time your forecasts will improve.

In conclusion, have fun with your planning. Think big, do not settle for anything less than what you really want. Be smart and create a plan to achieve those “big ideas”. Take baby steps if needed, and remember that Rome was not built in a day.

A good book I read years ago was “The Magic of Thinking Big”(the author is David Schwartz) it really put things in perspective. I highly recommend it.



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