Make Time Management Work for You

Clock“I don’t have enough time.”

No matter whom I am with or whatever group I am participating in, these words are a constant in the comments that people are making.

No one has enough time and it seems like our lives just keep getting busier. So how can we manage?

There are lots of self-help books, articles, podcasts, and webinars on the subject. Some are good in my view and some aren’t. The most helpful tips come I find come from real people discussing their own situation.

In a recent conversation, I mentioned this common cry for time management help. An author friend, Claudette Hegel, was kind enough to share a chapter on time management from her book, Down-to-Earth Writer’s Manual. These tips are from her experiences. What I appreciate about the chapter is that she realizes the broader life people have than just their work. She has simple tricks to help you stay on task.

I encourage you to read this short chapter. Then develop tricks and eventually habits to help you get out from the time crunch so many of us feel.

Farms (And Small Businesses) Need Succession Planning

generations

Photo (CC) by Ray Dumas, on Flickr

Leaving one’s business or farm to the next generation is a desire of many business owners.

Yet, those same owners will often admit that they have done little in terms of actually planning to make this desire a reality.

The University of Wyoming Extension, like many other Extension programs, is there to help start the discussion and planning process for farmers, ranchers, and small business owners.

In their February 2016 newsletter, John Hewlett, Ranch/Farm Management Specialist, discusses how such transitioning begins with the children by sparking their interest and including them in the planning discussions. Often the only message heard is when times are tough. Little is said when it is a rewarding year.

Modeling values is another important task as is getting them actively involved with chores and special projects.

Finally, the youth must see that there is a lifestyle balance, not only in words but in action.

The early involvement of the children is the first of many steps necessary to pass along the legacy. The Wyoming Extension program has a downloadable program that covers many of the aspects that need to be addressed. You can find this program at: http://aglegacy.org/ . Also, check with the Extension Service in your state for materials they may have as well.

Fine-tune Your Agritourism Operation

steve-driving-the-tractor-980-websiteGetting the most out of any business requires constant adjustment and fine-tuning. Agritourism businesses need the same thing as noted in this blog post by Michigan State University Extension.

In the post, they pulled together three tools to help you take a good look at your agritourism business. These tools came from the University of Vermont Extension, University of California Extension and Louisiana State University Extension.

You may also want to look at a resource booklet from Oklahoma and another from Oregon.

Agritourism offers some great opportunities to develop additional income from available resources. Achieving that goal requires you manage it like any other business. These guides can help.

Still wondering if agritourism is an opportunity for you?  Here are four farms that made it work. They are just a small sample of what there is to offer.

Sale Point Alternatives

Creativity

Photo (CC 2.0) by PunkToad, on Flickr

If you are running a small business you know that one part of the equation is getting your product in front of the customer.

The link provides you with a creative solution being used by one local foods entrepreneur.  The business owner didn’t invent anything new but simply took existing technology and put it to use somewhat differently. In this case, the different way was the selling of local meats.

As noted in the article, such machines are, and have been, used in similar ways for a few years. I can remember getting food out of vending machines in college and airports. So why not use it for local foods.

Yet it took someone to think a little bit out of the box. The idea allows for 24/7 sales, adds a virtual sales person, and can help someone expand their market reach.

This is just one way that a creative thought can move your company forward. Remember, standing still is not an option.

Networking: Where You Can Find Answers to Your Questions

Networking

Photo (CC 2.0) by USDA, on Flickr

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend a meeting sponsored by the Prairie Family Business Association. It was a great reminder on how much information you can learn by networking with other business owners.

While in the hallways and during the breaks, you could not help but notice small groups or even just a couple of individuals having good conversations.  If you listened in, a lot of information about management practices was being exchanged.

Yes, some of the conversations dealt with current events and sports but that’s okay. Those conversations help build relationships and trust between individuals. It also gave insight into trends and future changes impacting your business, something crucial to you as a business owner.

Effective networking is a key in business success.  Effective networking helps you get answers. It helps brand your business and it is a great marketing channel.

There are lots of opportunities to network. You should join organizations such as your Chamber as well as social organizations. You can also find trade organizations and industry organizations. I would also urge you to consider organizations such as the family business meeting I attended.

Many of you probably operate a family business. They are unique ventures that blend both the business system and the family system. Merging those two systems requires some special management and operational considerations. The best place to learn those skills is in working with other family business owners.

Effective networking can make a big difference in your business. Make the effort and you will find lots of benefits.

For more tips on networking, check out our video and tip sheet.