By Alastair Rayner
In the last few weeks I’ve met a few people who have talked to me about their “5 year plan”. These are people who have set some goals in their lives for where they would like to be. For one person it was a location they wanted to live in, and a business they wanted to operate. For another it was a qualification and profession they were aspiring to.
These people have been great to meet and share a few ideas with. I reckon I’m very fortunate in having the opportunity to work closely with plenty of farmers to help achieve their goals or even contribute to their “5 year plans!”
What I’ve learnt is setting goals is important for every business. It doesn’t matter if you operate a part time farm enterprise; or your entire income is derived from the farm, setting goals is essential.
I was recently asked why are goals essential?
It is really quite straight forward. A goal gives you a direction to aim for. It lets you develop practical strategies, the on farm actions that you can follow and hopefully avoid making mistakes that cost you money.
A goal gives you a purpose for on farm recording; for focussing on improved management skills or even for developing new skill sets. Without that purpose you can spend a lot of time recording data, going to courses and workshops or moving cattle around for little practical return.
I know that this doesn’t sound like rocket science! However the number of people I have had a chance to meet and work with, who are carrying out activities for no real purpose is surprising.
One of the benefits of working with people is bringing a fresh perspective to an operation. There are times when I see people doing something, and I have to ask, “why are you doing this?” There are plenty of times where the answer is “I don’t know” or “because its always what we do..”
Now that’s not to say that what they are doing is wrong or unnecessary! Sometimes I ask and find the answer is that the action is important for a specific reason or program.
But, the chance to stop and think about things for a little while is vital. I’d encourage producers to take time, at least once every 12 months, to sit down and review a few things about their business.
First of all ask yourself:
- What is the goal of the business. What do you want to achieve?
- How close does the business come to achieving that goal?
- What actions and program work best to help you achieve your goals?
- What are you doing each day and do these things actually help you or are they a distraction?
- Could you do things differently?
I reckon these 5 questions are quite challenging to answer. If you are honest with yourself, you need to spend some time on each point. Having said that, the answers you come up with can really help you focus your business to be capable of achieving your goals more efficiently.
There are plenty of people who can help you bring a fresh perspective to identifying your goals and answering these questions. However, if you do get another opinion, make sure its from someone who will look at your goals as well as your on farm strategies. There’s not much point looking just at goals if they can’t help you towards the most efficient activities.
Finally, don’t let someone convince you to change what you do each day simply to follow a trend or fad! Make sure that they give you ideas that actually help you achieve your goals!!