Want to Build Your Farm Business? Invest in Yourself.


What should you invest in to make your farm or agribusiness more successful?

When we pose that question, the conversation typically turns to the need for things like better iron (a new tractor or new combine), or upgrading computers and business management software. Human resources and marketing are often also part of the discussion. Only occasionally does the conversation touch on the need for farmers and business managers to invest in themselves.

They need to remember that it’s very difficult to be successful if they find themselves trapped on an island, managing operations with limited management skills and insights. Even senior executives for large corporations rely on business coaches and consultants to offer insights and outside perspectives when making key business decisions. Strong organizations also invest in their employees, setting short and long-term learning and development goals that are reviewed every six to 12 months.

In farming, the reality is that good times and higher prices can cover up management mistakes, which in some cases may not even be seen. But when margins are razor thin, management weaknesses tend to get exposed.

The Advanced Farm Management Program (AFMP) is set to kick off its fourth year in November.  Over 100 farmers and business managers have now graduated from the program.  For participants, AFMP is quite simply an investment in themselves and their businesses. It provides a unique combination of farm business management training and personalized, practical teachings they can apply immediately to their operation.

At the end of the 2014/15 program participants were asked to comment on the most beneficial aspect of the program.

Rodney, Ontario dairy farmers Marijn and Bridgette Fleuren explained that AFMP helped them learn to build a business plan and create a vision for their farm. “That’s very helpful, especially as young farmers who are in the middle of our succession plan. We just moved on to the home farm so it was really beneficial for us to create a vision of where we want to go with the farm.”

Watford, Ontario farmer Karen Sanders explained that AFMP really changed her perspective on business planning. “You get caught up in the day-to-day needs of running a farm. It was so beneficial to just take the time to stop and think about our mission and actually write it down. That was a huge step for us and it really is impacting how we run our farm day-to-day.”

Sanders would do one thing differently if she could do it again. “I would take my husband. Going through the course with your spouse or management partner is something I would really recommend.”

What should you invest in to make your farm or agribusiness more successful? For these highly motivated farmers looking to take their business to the next level, it’s become obvious that you have to invest in yourself.

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