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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