I have screwed up

I have screwed up

After 24 years of coaching companies and running my own businesses, I have had my fair share of screw-ups. From the closure of a company with a $250k loss, to having four team members quit on me in one day, to investing six months of time and money into a business that didn’t sell a single product, I have experienced a great deal of failure in my career.
 

But through these setbacks, I have learned the most valuable lesson of all: “The fish stinks from the head down.”
 

In other words, the common denominator in all of my failures was me.
 

It’s often difficult to admit this, but it’s also liberating when you do.
 

Nothing will change in your business or personal life until you change. 
 

It always starts with you. It starts with a decision that you are going to do things differently or better, and it starts when you take responsibility and get out of the ‘blaming the world or weather’ mode.
 

For those who may have missed it, I recently created a free video series that delves into how to make these changes. In it, I discuss the importance of taking control of yourself, and how to do so. By watching it, you will open yourself up to a new way of thinking and living – watch it here.
 

Nothing will change in your life until you actually make a decision to do something differently. We call this “taking control of yourself.” This is the area that all of my clients tell me has had the most significant impact on them. When they take control and decide to work on themselves: 

 

  • To stop using excuses and blaming everyone else. 
  • To wake up to the fact that ‘how’ they think will, in fact, control their reality. 
  • To stop reacting to things they can’t control and truly focus on the things that they can.
  • To work on their limiting beliefs and fears that are holding them back from living their best life, and finally take ownership of every area of their life. 
  • To stop pretending to be a know-it-all and get help. 

If you have dug yourself into a hole, then you can dig yourself back out.  

If you are unhappy about something in your life, then you can make a change to improve.  

If you are not living your best life, then you can decide that this year you are going to.  

It starts with a decision, so ask yourself – are you ready to make it? 

 

Have a great week.  

Robbo 

P.S. Video 1 in this brand new 3-part, free video training series is live now. Click here to watch it. Video 2 will be released on the 8th of February, so keep an eye on your inbox for it soon…  

Do you want improved results in 2023? Do this first…

Do you want improved results in 2023? Do this first…

My biggest shift in helping me with time management wasn’t a tool. It was a change in mindset. 

I used to be an amazing procrastinator. I would always leave things to the last minute, and I constantly lived in stress and overwhelm (waking up at night remembering things I forgot to do). 

I wasn’t congruent when I became a coach because I was coaching people to become organised, but I wasn’t living this myself. 

My coach said to me, ‘If you can’t be congruent, then don’t teach it.’ So, I invested in a time management course run by a business expert called Brian Tracy. 

Module one was very challenging. 

Brian shared that we ‘get what we focus on’, and my actions and behaviours were influenced by what I believed. 

The fastest way to change anything was to work on my internal beliefs. 

Here is a summary of what I believed before completing the course and implementing it: 

  • I am disorganised
  • I leave things to the last minute
  • I hate planning and don’t have time for this
  • I am busy
  • I don’t have time for anything
  • I am okay leaving things until tomorrow
  • I am not good enough

All of these (limiting) beliefs needed to be challenged, and Brian said that becoming organised and productive won’t occur until I changed my thinking. In other words, I could learn all the time management tools under the sun, but if I still carried around the belief ‘I don’t have time for anything,’ then I would never create the time to implement the new tool/s. 

So, I worked on re-creating new beliefs, such as: 

  • I am becoming more organised
  • I make time to plan because planning will create more time for me
  • I have space to work on my goals, and I don’t need to rush
  • I feel on top of my to-do list
  • I do today what I could put off till tomorrow
  • I am enough and worthy

It took a while, but I found repeating these new beliefs and changing my story had a tremendous impact. Over a short period of time, I went from a highly disorganised coach to feeling really organised and productive. 

It took some time for me to create the negative beliefs, so of course, it takes time to recreate the new beliefs and new mindset (I would write these new beliefs down and read them out regularly).

Once you re-programmed your mind, then the magic begins to happen. 

Over the years, we (Farm Owners Academy) have been lucky enough to learn so many little tools, tips, tricks and hacks to help people become more effective with their time. All of this (beginning with your mindset) is shared in our Time Management & Productivity course. So, if you are ready to make some changes, this is your last chance before the price goes back to $197 from Tuesday next week (it’s currently on special at 93% off for $9 and comes with a strategic road map call). It goes for 14 days (you get lifetime access), and you can watch or listen to it while working (it’s broken into simple bite-size chunks to not overwhelm you). 

Have a great day,

Robbo

P.S. When you look at it, everything comes back to your mindset and how you think. It’s often the last thing we consider and look at. 

Making Farm Succession Work

Making Farm Succession Work

For many farming families, the word ‘succession’ can bring up high emotions, difficult memories or a feeling of overwhelm. Here at Farm Owners Academy, alongside Tony from Catapult Wealth, we recognise that succession planning is often an emotionally-charged, complicated and challenging process. I spoke about this topic with Tony on Episode 45 of The Profitable Farmer Podcast, and it’s such an important topic, we feel it worth revisiting on our Freedom Farmer Blog.

What makes succession planning so difficult? Old and new generations can be afraid of ‘upsetting the apple cart’, children and parents may both wait indefinitely for the other to broach the discussion, and few are equipped to deal with the difficult emotional web that can arise. As such, succession planning is often put on the back burner or ignored, which in the long term only creates problems that become increasingly difficult to resolve.  

Having an unbiased, unemotional person helping to navigate succession can be extremely helpful. Tony offers his frank and practical insights into succession planning, based around his own experiences both personally and professionally, and to assure us that with the right skills and a positive mindset, succession planning can and should deliver a positive outcome for old and new, on and off-farm generations.

 

What is it, and why is it important?

Tony first identifies a common misconception amongst farmers that succession planning is a static document or event, completed once and then not brought up again. In fact, succession planning should be an intrinsic part of good business governance, which would ensure that succession is on the agenda of frequent advisory and family board meetings as a constant, ongoing and changing conversation. 

Any business requires succession planning as part of their forward planning for the future, and a family farm is no different. Risk mitigation is an essential part of any good business plan, so a lack of effective, open succession planning should be viewed as a significant risk to the running and future of your farming business.

 

Why getting away from “promises” is better for everyone in the long run

Many individuals working within a family business structure live “on a promise” that they will inherit the farm in fifteen, twenty or thirty years time. However, this can also create a real sense of imprisonment as the years tick by and the individual feels it’s now too late to leave. This can create significant conflict within families and demonstrates the need for clear written and communicated frameworks to be implemented so that everyone working on the farm has as many certainties in their day to day life as possible. 

This includes activities like agreed upon hours, pay, holidays, specific job descriptions, dates of starting work, etc. Having clear certainties like these improves the operational running of the farm, as well as the emotional and mental health of its workers, all of which affects relationships within a family. The value of such a framework not just for succession planning but for operational planning as well, cannot be underestimated.

 

The two types of plans when succession planning

Tony also considers two forms of planning; a ‘dead plan’ and a ‘living plan’; to be essential in succession planning. 

What is a ‘dead plan’?

A dead plan involves more than simply making a will and saying “this will all be yours when I’m gone” (an often-used line that does NOT count as a succession planning conversation!). Wills must be reviewed, discussed and edited annually in order to ensure they reflect current conditions of the farming business. 

We all know that profits in farming can change quickly from year to year based on weather, land prices, and various other factors that we have no individual control over. Therefore, making a will and not thinking about it again for twenty years is extremely ineffective and will probably cause great financial and emotional distress to your family later on. 

Sitting your family down and talking about the contents of your will is also important, as its contents should reflect the succession planning you have already put in place for your business and should therefore not include any nasty surprises. Talking about your will with your family also allows you to explain and discuss your decisions, both important aspects of successful succession planning.

 

What is a ‘living plan’?

Conversely, the ‘living plan’ focuses on planning for success in your life, assuming you will live to one hundred. It comprises four components:

  1. Retirement Plan
  2. Management Plan
  3. Cheque Book Management
  4. Land transfer plan

 

Let’s look at each of these components in more detail. 

  • The Retirement Plan

Considering how parents will retire from the business is extremely important. This should include consideration for, at a minimum:

  • What their income will be
  • Where they will live
  • How they will pay for healthcare
  • What role, if any, they will continue to play in the business

 

These important aspects of life are often overlooked or not considered in detail, which can lead to real issues within families later, as the assumptions of parents may vastly differ from that of their children. 

  • The Management Plan

 

A Management Plan involves defining:

  • Who will manage the business through years of transition across generations?
  • What are everyone’s individual job descriptions during transition?
  • How will any off-farm children benefit? 

These considerations need to be clearly outlined and framed so that all members of the family have full disclosure. 

The role of off-farm children in succession can be difficult to navigate and discuss, as off-farm children still feel an emotional connection to the farm and their childhood on it. Often, conversations around succession with off-farm children are much more about the perceived opportunity the property can afford them, rather than money. This can be complex and different for everyone, however having open and honest conversations about it is essential in ensuring a positive outcome for all family members.

 

  • Cheque Book Management

The third component of the living plan is what Tony refers to as ‘cheque book management’. Farms will typically hold the ownership of land in one trust and the operating entity in another. It is important to plan, define and communicate who will be responsible for not only managing the payment of accounts upon succession, but who will be in charge of making the decisions regarding how profits are spent and what the priorities are for the advancement of the farm. This role is one of great responsibility and can therefore cause problems within families if people disagree. 

Knowing who is going to be in control of the finances in advance and involving them early in the transition process so that they know how to read a balance sheet, how to understand profit and loss, and what to consider when making decisions is vital. This means that this person should have a seat at the family board table at the very least, if not the advisory board table early on, to avoid financial and emotional stress later. 

Additionally, discussing cash flow across generations is important so that decisions are discussed and aired in the open and the new generation is introduced to financial conversations. This should continue until the older generation are ultimately no longer involved in the financial management of the business. Again, this kind of planning and transitional change falls under the banner of good business governance; without a framework to work under, making decisions around profits is very difficult. 

Negotiating the sometimes competing priorities of old and new generations around finance can be a challenge in itself, as older generations may be more risk averse and unwilling to make big changes, whereas younger generations may be more willing to take on debt or try something different. With respectful communication and a mindfulness of the feelings of the older generation, who have often spent their entire lives working on the farm for the benefit of their family, goals of both generations can be a success, rather than either/or. 

Being patient with parents and considerate of their mental health during a time of such change is incredibly important. At the end of the day, regardless of how profitable the farm may be, you still want your family to be functional and enjoy spending time together. Kind, respectful, patient communication is imperative here.

 

  • Land Transfer Plan

The fourth component of the living plan is that of actual land transfer. Many farmers place great emphasis on this, however Tony believes that it really is the last piece of the puzzle and shouldn’t cause undue distress. This is primarily because most farms are never sold, they are passed down generations, so the figure that the farm may be worth on paper is largely irrelevant to actual succession. 

Ensuring the land transfer is set up and organised is important, but can be done last and usually requires less time and focus than many assume.

 

It all makes sense, but where do you even start?

We recognise that all of this information is helpful and interesting to consider, however it is a different matter entirely to actually enact it within your family and your business. 

If you have already tried to introduce succession planning and have met a dead end, Tony’s advice is ‘don’t give up’. Keep trying to bring up the conversation, find the right advisors and don’t just let it go; ignoring a problem won’t fix or improve it. 

Similarly, if you are yet to begin this process then starting with really honest, direct and respectful conversations are the best and only way, realistically, to reach a positive outcome for everyone. Many of us, on and off farms, take our family for granted, and it is important to continue putting effort into building and strengthening these relationships so that greater trust, communication and therefore better outcomes can be reached for everybody. 

Strong, genuine relationships really are the backbone of any successful business; everything is built on this. 

If you’d like to discuss this topic more, or get some help with initiating first steps or keeping up momentum on your own succession planning, please reach out to me at support@farmownersacademy.com or give me a call on 0447 184 167. 

If you are interested in improving your business management skills, increasing the profit of your farm and deepening the relationships in your family, our Take Control Program is a great first step in achieving this. 

Succession planning can be a challenge, however it is important to start the conversation, no matter how difficult. Being courageous and proactive will, in time, achieve the best outcomes for you, your family and your farm.

By Jeremy “Hutch” Hutchings, Managing Director of Farm Owners Academy. You can listen to Hutch discuss making a succession plan with Tony from Catapult Wealth on Episode 45 of The Profitable Farmer podcast.

Most farmers feel guilty, but this is where you want to spend some time

Most farmers feel guilty, but this is where you want to spend some time

The ‘Important Not Urgent’ quadrant is a concept introduced by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In this book, Covey suggests that people should prioritise their tasks based on their level of importance and urgency and divide them into four quadrants:

The ‘Important Not Urgent’ quadrant is particularly important because it represents tasks that are critical to achieving long-term goals, but do not have an immediate deadline.  

Examples of tasks in this quadrant include things like strategic planning, professional development, building relationships, analysing your numbers, creating systems, hiring people and training them. 

These tasks may not be immediately pressing, but they are crucial for achieving success in the long run.

One of the key benefits of working in this quadrant is that it helps you focus on your goals and priorities. By dedicating time to important but not urgent tasks, you can ensure that you are making progress towards your long-term objectives. This can also help you to be more proactive in addressing potential issues before they become critical. 

Additionally, working in the important not urgent quadrant can help you to develop new skills and knowledge, which can be beneficial for your professional growth and career advancement.  

For example, coming to our TOP Producers event is in this zone. If you want to grow individually and as a business & gain new skills, it is important for you to make the time to attend events such as this, but it’s so easy to say ‘no’ to attending because you will feel like there are a million other things that need to be done with your time instead. 

Plus – you may also feel guilty because you are not ‘in demand’ and many people get addicted to working in the ‘Urgent and Important’ quadrant. 

But, by focusing on your time on your personal and professional development, you can improve your capabilities and become even more valuable. 

To work effectively in the ‘Important Not Urgent’ quadrant, it is essential to set clear goals, make a schedule and stick to it, and make use of effective time management techniques. It’s also critical to be aware of the things that distract you and find ways to eliminate or minimise them. 

Finally, it is important to be mindful of the balance, and not to neglect other quadrants in order to achieve success both in the short term and long term. 

Robbo 

P.S. there are just a few spots remaining for our February 2023 TOP Producers 2-Day event in Adelaide, and our early bird ticket prices will end after the 17th January, so please register to attend in person (or you can watch it online) and save $1295!! Find out more here – https://www.farmownersacademy.com/event/

Some simple tips for setting up an incredible 2023

Some simple tips for setting up an incredible 2023

Here are some simple tips to help you set up a great 2023. 

  1. Put your holidays into your calendar early. If you don’t plan time off, you will fill it with stuff. I like to ensure I get a mini break every quarter (4 days off) and an extended break once a year (2 to 4 weeks off). Everyone needs to recharge now and again.

     

  2. Lock in the 3/2/1 rule. Each quarter, read 3 books, speak with 2 people from your industry that can help you and consider doing one short in-person course (a 3-hour or multi-day event or an online course of some sort). This will help you to continuously grow.

     

  3. Remember to plan. We are huge advocates of quarterly planning, so each quarter, get together to work out what priorities you will focus on. But, of course, this won’t happen if you don’t put the planning dates in your calendar (you only need to lock in one day each quarter and maybe two days for your yearly planning).

     

  4. Say ‘no’ more than you say ‘yes.’  Don’t let your mouth overload your back. Simplify your life where possible.

     

  5. Remember, a one-hour weekly plan will double your effectiveness each week – plan next week this week.

     

  6. Don’t let your undone tasks build up. Instead, get them out of your head onto paper / spreadsheet / somewhere. Poor sleep is associated with having too many things going on in your head, so it’s best to keep your head clear and write things down.

     

  7. Your greatest growth will come from finding someone ‘doing it smarter’ than you and then learning from them. So, get around ‘smart people’ as much as you can. Don’t try and figure it all out by yourself.

     

  8. Make your health a high priority because if you don’t have it, you only have one option.

     

  9. Don’t take life so seriously. Plan to have fun. Hang out with family and friends and go on an adventure. If not now, then when?

Have the best year!

 

Robbo  

P.S. if you haven’t already completed it, we have extended our discounted offer for our Time Management & Productivity course until the last day of January. We guarantee it will shift your thinking for the better – register here.

The Skills You Need to be a Top 5% Farmer

The Skills You Need to be a Top 5% Farmer

As the year comes to a close, it is fitting that we look back and reflect on an aspect of our business here at Farm Owners Academy that we are incredibly proud of and love doing – and that we know so many of you are avid listeners of!  

Our podcast The Profitable Farmer has made a significant difference to the success of our business, and the businesses of so many of our farming clients. In 2022, The Profitable Farmer was in the top 5% of most listened-to podcasts across 47 different countries! Unsurprisingly, its popularity grew by 81% just this year alone and increased in followers by 80%. We’re so proud our podcast has reached so many people, particularly this year, when there have been so many challenges thrown at the farming community. 

These incredible figures really show us just how valuable these conversations are, as well as the importance farmers are increasingly placing on improving their business skills and learning how to best manage their farms. We know all too well how precious time is when you’re a farmer, so seeing the growth in The Profitable Farmer podcast is really affirming for us as business owners and coaches ourselves.

It’s also incredibly pleasing to see that of all the 109 episodes of the Profitable Farmer, which first started back in 2017, it is our very first episode, The Skills You Need to be a Top 5% Farmer, that continues to rate as our most popular. This episode also provides some interesting context for understanding my own background and motivation for starting The Profitable Farmer podcast, and Farm Owners Academy. 

To end another great year, we hope you find this summary of Episode 1: The Skills You Need to be a Top 5% Farmer helpful, motivating and thought provoking as you consider the goals and direction of your farming business in 2023.

The goal is to work smarter, not harder

The central goal of the Profitable Farmer podcast, and Farm Owners Academy, is to provide practical and theoretical knowledge of the skills required to make your farming business as profitable as possible by working smarter, not harder. 

I grew up on a cattle and sheep farm on the outskirts of Uralla in New England, where I watched my Mum and Dad work incredibly hard for twenty-five years. Before that, my father had learnt the ropes from his father, however upon his early death my Dad was really thrown in the deep end as he had to quickly learn how to be the sole operator of their business. My parents borrowed money to put all three of us boys through boarding school and I watched my Mum work a second job so that they could make ends meet. This is not an uncommon situation for many farming families.

I vividly remember money being a constant source of tension and worry for my parents throughout those twenty-five years. The day they made the decision to sell our property was one of incredible, immense relief as the stress and hard work of running a farm had really taken its toll. It was this experience, shared by so many, that motivated Greg Johnsson and I to start Farm Owners Academy. 

Business skills are just as important as technical skills when you’re a farmer

My Dad was an incredible technical farmer, just like his father before him, however he never learnt how to run a profitable business, and this is the missing piece of the puzzle for so many farmers; we need to take the great technical skills of farmers and merge them with great business skills so that you have the ability to operate in that top 5%. 

Understanding the details of your farm by taking ownership of the planning, understanding your finances (including balance sheets), key ratios and using them to make decisions, and building a team around you that includes finding, inducting and leading members, are essential business skills you can and should learn. Marketing and sales skills, and implementing operational structures that keep the day to day running smoothly are skills required in order to maximise the profits of your farm.

At Farm Owners Academy we define a business as a commercial, profitable enterprise that works without you. Our goal here is to teach you the business skills needed to allow you to step back from the day to day running of your farm, whilst increasing your profit so that you have more time to spend with your family, increase your work-life balance, and have the ability to easily leave the farm whenever needed. 

With this increase in profit and time, you could then consider using your solid business skills to invest in and run another business that’s either separate to or complements your farm, or expand your own farm. With the right knowledge and willingness to learn new skills, all of these things are possible for you, your family and your farm. 

First 3 steps to improve the commercial side of your farm

  1. Get really clear on your goals and where you want it to go, so that you can build very strong foundations that will eventually support a business that runs without you.

    You must have clarity over both money and time; meaning you know exactly how much money is going in and out and exactly how you are spending your time. Many farmers spend huge amounts of time on activities that keep them very busy, but could realistically be performed by someone else. Instead, you should be focusing on the top 20% of activities that produce almost all of your profitability and be spending your time, as CEO, on those. 

 

  1. Once this strong foundation is established with a team you trust, you need to consider the key systems that are in place in order for your farm to run smoothly without you so that you can focus more specifically on being the CEO of your business and further increase profits. 

 

If these steps are thoroughly undertaken, then over time you should be able to use your increased profits to build wealth outside your farm through investment, or expand by buying more land and taking your operation to the next level. Again, the aim is to work smarter, not harder!

So, there you have our central goal here at Farm Owners Academy; to teach you the business skills required to enable you to make greater profits from your farm and therefore have greater happiness, fulfilment, work-life balance and time for your family and yourself. 

This IS possible for you, and it is worth putting in the time and effort required to make it happen. 

Thank you for the support you have shown of The Profitable Farmer Podcast this year. We are so looking forward to continuing the learning process with you in 2023!

By Andrew Roberts, Co-Founder of Farm Owners Academy. You can listen to Andrew on Episode 1 of The Profitable Farmer podcast.

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