The thought of being in control of your own destiny might seem a bit foreign for those who are so much at the whim of Mother Nature.
But in truth, controlling your destiny is about controlling what you can to chart your own path. It’s a big, weighty subject – but I’m going to give you some food for thought so you might find a few more ways to control what you can – even when Mother Nature doesn’t seem like she cares.
There are three keys to controlling your destiny in my opinion:
- Surround yourself with the right people
- Gather the right information
- Utilize the right tools
Let’s dive into what I mean and how this applies to you and your business.
Surround Yourself with the Right People
Any successful and rewarding business needs to be supported by the right team of people. These are people who share your values, who you respect and trust, and who respect and trust you in return. This doesn’t always come easy. We all know that respect and trust are both earned after all.
The best teams are diverse in both their thoughts and their skills. Problems arise when you hire people who all have the same skills. Debates ensue when everyone has their opinion and way to do things. This often erodes trust and can even result in a loss of respect among team members.
Let’s consider these scenarios which apply equally to both a small team and a large one.
- Your strength is your knowledge and experience with agronomy. Your partner brings strength in accounting and bookkeeping. When it comes time to add to your team, you shouldn’t go looking first for an agronomist or an accountant. Rather, look first for someone who can provide a skill you don’t have – like market advice! That’s the biggest gap you must fill. You can always supplement your agronomy or accounting skills with “ad-hoc advisors” when needed.
- What if your strength is marketing, your partner’s strength is agronomy, and you have some good labourers who have great mechanic skills? Your biggest gap is on the accounting and operations side of your business. When you add to your team, look first for someone who brings accounting or operations leadership, and even some tech savvy for when you need it.
By knowing what strengths you have right now on your team, you’re better able to fill the gaps that will help you create a healthier and stronger business.
Gather the Right Information
What is the “right” information? The internet delivers information overload and sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s fake news.
Determining what the right information is for you often comes down to its source. Just like you’d rather trust medical advice from the Mayo Clinic’s website than from a random Facebook ad, you need to establish a network of trusted sources. Technology is an amazing tool to help us build and connect with those networks when you need to. Here’s a few examples.
- On Twitter, there are a few good hashtags that I see people use to help find answers to agronomic or equipment questions quickly: #WestCdnAg and #AgTwitter. A quick Tweet with a picture can yield answers within minutes – if not seconds. This can be vital when you need to make timely decisions. Best of all, it’s usually peer-to-peer so you’re getting insight from others who’ve likely been in your shoes.
- When it comes to grain marketing, it’s more about the people you bring into your network. On any given day at any given point in the market, one advisor will say sell and another will say hold. The experience, network, and teams of different advisors are diverse, so do you research before you bring them into your network. If you only subscribe to newsletters or information from sources you trust, you’ll save time and make more confident decisions based on what they tell you. No advisor will be perfect all the time, but as the old saying goes, Garbage In – Garbage Out.
Make networks, use networks, and look for information. But always look at where the information is coming from and don’t be afraid to ask “why”.
Using the Right Tools
How technology has changed agriculture! We all know that it’s imperative to use the right tools to help you be successful and see the best possible results. But with the proliferation of technology in our industry, it’s sometimes hard to focus on what’s best for your operations and not get swept up in all the bells and whistles which look intriguing but don’t always turn out to have an impact.
Align the tools you choose with the people you have. If you’ve built your team to be diverse you should be choosing the tools that compliment what they do or maybe fill a gap for skills that you don’t have. The tools you choose should compliment your operations and make things easier on a whole – not just in part. There are a lot of tools we buy and either don’t use to its full capacity or don’t use at all. This is often the case with software which can have a steep learning curve, especially if you don’t have that tech savvy person on your team.
- There aren’t many farms today who don’t use autosteer. The autosteer function brought us efficiency and the ability to cover more acres with less overlap. That meant fewer wasted resources and the equipment operator you had on your team could have a different set of skills.
- Another modern tool that many are embracing are drones. Now this is one you can certainly get caught up in all the bells and whistles! As yourself if you want the drone for cool aerial photos and videos or if you want it to scout fields. Maybe both – in which case be sure you’re clear on which on is the priority.
- One tool I wish was on every farm is a membership in CXN360. This tool brings buyers right to each grower member’s smartphone. It’s not an app, but rather growers get notifications via text, email, or online when a buyer issues an offer. The grower immediately knows the terms, the price, the delivery window, and most importantly who is making the offer. It’s about efficiency and access to information and a broad marketplace right on your farm. This technology is a fit for any operation, big or small, conventional or organic, regardless of the crops they grow.
Whatever tools you use, be sure they bring you value by either saving you time, making you money, or helping you make better decisions.
Mother Nature will always be part of your business. Some years, she’s the Chairman of the Board. But even a Chairman doesn’t have autonomy. Control what you can, and you’ll see success follow.