The 4 States of Competence Every Farmer Should Know

budgeting farm accounting financial analysis financial literacy personal development May 31, 2024

As you have probably heard, knowing your numbers is key to making great decisions, seizing opportunities, and feeling in control of your business. In my role as a coach, I often see a lot of fear and overwhelm in this area, triggering negative emotions just at the thought of dealing with finances. Today, I’d like to dig into this a little! 

The reason for this fear and overwhelm is the gap between where we are now and where we want to be. The action required can seem so great in our minds that it results in a lack of movement and the associated fears.  

When we understand where we are on the financial journey and what it takes to become competent, we can have empathy for ourselves, move forward in more manageable steps, and create different, more positive emotions.  

Let’s refer to the 4 states of competence to explain this.  

At the bottom of the ladder is ‘Unconscious Incompetence’, where you are unaware of the skills required and also lack proficiency. This is where you feel helpless, stressed, and frustrated about finances. You know things need to change, but you don’t yet know how or what to do. Curiosity and desire for more will move you from this level to the next.  

The second level is ‘Conscious Incompetence’. This is when you are aware of the skill you need but are not yet proficient at it. This level brings overwhelm, fear, and possibly a feeling of being stuck. You know what you need to do, but getting started seems overwhelming, and the littlest things seem insurmountable. You may set it aside to ‘deal with’ later but make no progress. 

Consistent action, despite the discomfort, is required at this step to move you forward. Imagine climbing a steep hill and nearing the top. It takes consistently putting one foot in front of the other (and maybe some friendly encouragement), despite how sore your legs are, to get you over the top to an easier path downhill. Learning farm finance is no different. It doesn’t matter the speed or the size of the step, the important thing is that we are taking them and reaching out for support where needed. This is the difference between the farmers who nail our programs and those who don’t. 


Once we reach the third level, ‘Conscious Competence’, we can use the skill, but only with effort. This is where you start to feel some momentum, build confidence, and feel like you are getting there. You begin to understand your numbers; feeling optimistic, and finances don’t seem so scary after all! You also start to put in place financial systems. Systems and consistently refining your skill at this level move you up. You have moved through the discomfort and are starting to feel slightly more comfortable with what you are doing. 

Finally, the holy grail is ‘Unconscious Competence’, where performing the skill becomes automatic and a natural part of your business (just like riding a bike). Your systems are humming, you love looking at your finances, and your business is loving you for it! Who wouldn’t love to be at this level?! 

So, as you consider your journey, think about the following questions:

  • Where do you currently place yourself on the financial learning journey (and can you have empathy and understanding for where you are at)? 
  • If you are stuck at ‘Consciously Incompetent’, what is it costing your business by not consistently working on becoming competent? 
  • What do you need to do as a business to advance to the next level? 
  • Who or what support do you need around you to create consistent action moving forward? 
  • Have an amazing month, and please reach out if you need support on your journey.

If you feel like you are currently at the ‘Unconscious Incompetence’ or ‘Conscious Incompetence’ stage, a great place to start to get a handle on your farm finances is our Cash Flow Optimiser short course and templates [LINK]. Complete this online, in your own time and access and discover the tools, templates and strategies you need to master your farm finances. 

And don’t miss out on the opportunity for personalised guidance — book your Complimentary Coaching Call now to get tailored advice and support from our experienced coaches. 

Have an amazing month, and please reach out if you need support on your journey. 

Hayley Grosser 

Accountability Coach 

The 4 States of Competence Every Farmer Should Know

May 31, 2024

Avoid These Common Mistakes…

May 16, 2024

While you're here, explore what's on at Farm Owners Academy


Ready to take your farm to the next level? We are here to help you overcome common challenges and achieve your business and personal goals.


A short course designed for busy farm owners and managers to help reduce the overwhelming workload and time management struggles you encounter daily, and increase your productivity and results.


Over the 2-Day Workshop you’ll learn the concrete tools and strategies to create a lasting transformation in your farming business, and your life, that you can’t get anywhere else.

Head Office

252 Playford Hwy
Kingscote SA 5223

Let’s Talk

0447 184 167
[email protected]