BUILDING UP TO BREAKTHROUGH
IN COMMERCIAL FARMING
By Robert Likhang – Chartered Accountant & Business Consultant
RL Consulting, www.yourfd.co.ls firstname.lastname@example.org +266 27001023
Commercial farming business like any business must be stable, automatically growing like a flywheel which only needs effort in the beginning but turns to gain momentum and runs almost on its own and increases pace as times run. The early pushes in the flywheel are a build up and when the momentum is gained breakthrough is achieved. Usually the life of a farmer is work! work! work! and the poor farmer just works to the day of his/her death and hardly ever a day in life where according to the psalmist, he/she earns whilst he/she sleeps. Any business needs to provide passive income, and that is the difference with employment/self-employment. If you have to toil to obtain a penny then there is no breakthrough, and there is no business, it may just be employment (self-employment in your case)
BUILDING UP THE FARM BUSINESS
According to a business researcher and author Jim Collins, business requires disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplined action to move from good to great. We will look at how to build up a farming business so that it can develop to a point where it generates income without your personal toils. Obviously the Build-up stage will require your massive efforts, but you will be building a machine (a business asset) that will generate money later without or with little effort, like a flywheel, it will be moving automatically, gaining its momentum and every time it completes a round, dividends flow into your purse.
Any business starts with people, you and the people you are a seed to your business asset. Jim refers to a term Disciplined People, and the emphasis is on the word ‘Discipline’. Discipline embodies direction, focus and hard work. Disciplined people would be those who know where they are going, and they go nowhere else and are committed to that trip (hard work). He puts this in an analogy of a bus, and says that all people must leave the bus, and right people must enter the bus and be in right seats. Your business asset (farm) must start with the right people, people with right attitude, right passion, right talent, that is, doing what they are best in the world (right seat). The right people will do anything even when the business model has to change they will easily support the change.Farmers often ignore the issue of people only to their distruction. The idea of cheap workers will only promote cheap efforts and cheap results. It is important some business activities that are not core to the business be outsourced, especially to a professional services firm, activities like accounting, taxation etc.
You may seek business advices in terms of compliance, performance improvement and innovation, the same professional service provider could provide you with the same.Your leadership and that of your management should be beyond reproach. Jim Collins identified what he called Level 5 Leadership, which is a unique mix of humility (Botho) and professional will (Bokhoni). Leadership is not about status, pride etc rather about the business interests being above own interests, your people being above you. You need to assess your leadership at all time, and the best way is to remember that at Build-up stage you are the worker and employee and need to toil, have empathy to fellow employees with the view to create talent.
In our journey of business we meet with challenges and most of which we can identify the root causes. Sometimes it is difficult to accept the root causes and deal with them directly. The challenges could be the unfair demands from family or politicians, need to remove some employees, need to change business model, need to change from one farming to another (products), need to automate etc. We cannot avoid facing the brutal facts about your business. One man suspected that he had prostate challenge but because he feared prostate cancer, he did not go for tests until the cancer had developed to a level it was imposible to reverse. The same applies in business. we need to face challenges and not just wish them away.Identify what your farming business is great at, that is what farming area it can be best in the world at. Igrew up in a family that that was farming in maize production, and to me that defined farming and that alone. Time came in for cash crops and we had to change our products, but instead we sold the farmland because it was no longer productive, and to us it was no longer productive because maize produce was low. I am looking for a day where our farmers will change to profitable produce instead the old traditional produce which we cannot be best in the world at.