10 Things to Know When Starting a Farm

If you are an experienced farmer you may or may not remember the first row you ever planted. By now you could probably do it in your sleep. But if you are new to farming and just starting out, here is some advice from Loren Kruse, Editor-in-Chief at Successful Farming magazine:

1. Follow up your dreams with a written plan
Words on paper provide clarity and direction. Saying the words aloud to another person helps you crystallize the specific goals and outcomes your plan is intended to achieve.

2. Look for other opportunities
Agriculture offers more diverse ways to make money than ever before. While your heart may be set on three or four enterprises of which you are very familiar, don’t rule out other opportunities. As a matter of practice, study the feasibility and profitability of a new enterprise every year. You’ll eliminate most of them, but you never know when one will be worth pursuing.

3. Build an attitude for success
Your attitude may very well determine your success as much as your farming skills. Getting a loan or acquiring land is not easy. It is even harder if you don’t believe you have a chance. Being thoroughly prepared helps give you confidence. Even if you are not outgoing, be positive.

4. Hone your people skills
People and communication skills are more important than ever. The payoff is most critical at home. Talk to your family and make it easy for them to talk to you. Good writing skills help you keep your landowners, lenders, and other business partners informed. Good communicators have an advantage in furthering their farming goals.

5. Make your farm as special as a business
No doubt you love farming. Learn to love your operation as a business in the same way. Embrace the many financial tools that help you make sound and confident decisions. Measure what matters, then apply the practices that help you lower costs and widen your margins. Learn to talk as comfortably about your numbers as you do your practices.

6. Know your strengths
Spend most of your time doing the things you do extra-ordinarily well. But also know the areas in which you need help.

7. Build your reputation for things that matter
Three stand out: integrity, being really good at what you do (farming), and building genuine long-term relationships.

8. Try new things
You are good at more things than you can imagine. Take a little risk. As some business managers put it, “Do a little, learn a lot.”

9. Balance family and farming
Being successful in farming will never mean as much unless you are successful at home and in your family life, too. Strive for balance and measure success in more than dollar signs. Deliberately learn about personality types and how best to interact with people, especially your own spouse and children.

10. Help others grow
As you grow to be successful in your farming business, help grow others around you, too. Build a strong network of farming peers and friends. As you succeed, keep an eye out for other up-and-coming young farmers to mentor.” Source: Across the Editor’s Desk: Mid-March 2009

Besides the obvious advice that every farmer should own a Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson, or Valtra tractor (shameless plug, I know)…what advice could you offer a young farmer just starting out?

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