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.

Growing Pains

Change

Photo (CC) by Nana B. Agyel, on Flickr

One of the objectives at Power of Business is to learn from other business owners. Often others have already experienced the path we, as a business owner, are thinking about or already on.

This is a great story examining how growth turned out to be less than a great thing for Copper Pot Carmels.

According to the article, the issues started as the owners started to streamline the process in order to keep up with demand. What surprised them was the customer reaction.  And what was the streamlining? An automated wrapping machine which demanded a new type of wrapper.

Read how they had to step back and refocus and what their future plans are. Also pay attention to their passion for the business in terms of the hours they were working.  Lots of lessons to learn such as talking to your customer before making a big change.  You should also appreciate their attitude that “It’s not the end or an era; it’s the end of a chapter.”

Hopefully a reversed decision does not end your business but instead help you instead decide how to move forward. 

As you read the article, how might you have handled the situation? Lessons learned.

Prepare Your Small Business during September: National Preparedness Month

Guest Blogger: Becky Koch, North Dakota State University Extension Service

Business disaster

Photo (CC) WaterArchives.org, on Flickr

 

 

Small businesses often have limited resources. As such, they are vulnerable to events that interrupt their routines, big or little.

Disasters can represent such an interruption. Whether the building burns down or coffee is spilled on a computer with records, either is a disaster for a business. During September – National Preparedness Month – businesses are encouraged to look at how well they may be prepared for a disaster. After examining their situation, business owners should take the time to prepare the businesses for a disruption of any level.

Preparation starts with completing a disaster plan template, such as the one provided by the Extension Disaster Education Network at http://bit.ly/EDENReadyBiz or FEMA at www.ready.gov/business.

The steps are easy. Begin with a look at current disaster plans. The second step is to put into place procedures that would help get you back into operation as quickly as possible.

Simple steps include:

Plan to stay in business

  • Know potential disruptions
  • Assess how your company functions
  • Protect your employees
  • Provide for evacuation and sheltering in place
  • Prepare for medical emergencies (CPR, first aid, etc.)
  • Train on fire extinguishers

Talk to your people

  • Create an emergency planning team
  • Practice drills (fire, tornado, etc.)
  • Encourage employees to make home emergency supply kits and develop family emergency plans
  • Detail how you will be in contact with employees, suppliers, customers and others
  • Talk to your employees, and your own family, about the need to balance family and business needs during disasters

Protect your investment

  • Meet with your insurance provider to understand and review current and possible additional coverages, such as lost income or business disruption
  • Prepare for utility outages and disruptions
  • Secure physical assets
  • Protect your data and IT systems (off-site backup, etc.)
  • Perhaps even consider options for where you may relocate all or part of your business (i.e., what if you need cold storage or freezer space)

Many of these steps don’t take much time and cost nothing or little, but they might save lots of time and money in the event of a business disruption, whether minor, such as a contract deliverer not available, or major, such as a tornado.

You can’t protect yourself against all possible disruptions, but by taking a proactive approach, to the extent possible, you can have peace of mind and a quicker recovery if something does happen.