Finding Your Next Gear

Shifting gears in life and business is an analogy used to describe taking bold new steps to grow as a person or grow your business. As it relates to farming a shift in growth might be an expansion in acres or quota, diversification into a new business venture, or splitting off from a family operation.

Sports car enthusiasts and farm boys (or girls) like myself will know exactly what I am talking about. To operate a manual transmission, you start in first gear and accelerate. Once your RPM’s build high enough you can shift into 2nd, 3rd, 4th gear and so on until you reach your desired speed. Every time you go up a gear your RPM’s drops, the engine does not work as hard, it runs more efficiently, and you keep accelerating. If you were to stay in 1st gear your speed would be limited at a certain level by your RPM’s. Increase your RPM’s beyond the recommended upper level and you risk permanently damaging your engine.

Better information and better decisions will result in fewer mistakes, more peace of mind and ultimately less stress.

Running a farm or business can have the same effect on a person. When we try to accomplish too much we are running flat out on all cylinders. To be able to do more we have to rethink how we do things, change our habits or delegate day to day activities. Much like a sports car this requires a shift. Failing to do so, we risk blowing the engine, causing long term damage to our mental and/or physical health.

By shifting gears, we can operate at lower the RPMs, slow things down, make more time, get better rest, and make better decisions. Many farmers grow up wearing different hats having to manage equipment repairs, operating equipment, managing the books and human resources.  Increasingly, farmers are realizing that as their businesses grow, they cannot do it all. By hiring outside specialists for different aspects of the business, producers can bring new, expert, insights into their operations.

Delegating tasks like agronomy or grain marketing can free up a producer’s time so he or she can focus on family or other aspects of the business. Hiring expertise adds a 2nd set of eyes on your fields or a 2nd opinion about the markets to help make better decisions. Better information and better decisions will result in fewer mistakes, more peace of mind and ultimately less stress.

What would you do with more time in your operation?


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