Podcast: Finance for the farm

Nobody ever became a farmer because they were super-excited to work on a farm’s finances. It’s not typically a job most farmers look forward to. In fact, balancing the books can sometimes be downright intimidating. But knowledge is power, so this week on Modern Farm Business, Dean explores and explains some basic financial building blocks—to take the fear out of farm finances and empower each farmer to get the most out of their numbers.

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Podcast: Tools for building understanding

Most mistakes in business come down to a breakdown in communication—specifically, breakdowns in understanding. Late 19th-/early 20th Century German author and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said “Everyone hears only what he understands.” With this in mind, Dean Heffta urges listeners this week to become aware of the assumptions we regularly infuse into our communication—and to work to eliminate those assumptions and objective definitions in favor of clarity.

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Out with the old, in with the new?

As we usher in 2019, many people find this a great time for resolving to make changes in their lives—typically to be healthier, kinder, more appreciative or generally happier. It’s exciting to take on new challenges and give yourself a fresh start. But as farm leaders, we cannot get caught up in the New Year’s resolution frenzy and jump into making changes on the farm.

In his latest blog post on FarmFutures.com, Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye reminds us that while change is not necessarily a bad thing, it is inadvisable to rush into change without putting in the hours beforehand to determine exactly what changes should be made—if any at all. Frye suggests ideas for evaluating your operation from another viewpoint before rushing headlong into changes that might not even be necessary.

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Reader question: Should we give year-end bonuses?

Well, here we are at December 31. As 2018 comes to a close, farm leaders are tying up loose ends and hopefully getting plans moving for the 2019 crop year. A Nebraska reader of Darren Frye’s Finance FIrst column in Farm Futures magazine recently wrote in to ask our CEO’s take on year-end bonuses for farm employees.

Frye applauded the reader for recognizing their employees and rewarding their contributions to the operation, but he did offer some guidelines to make sure we aren’t just handing out bonuses without making sure they’re not taken for granted or become expected regardless of performance. For instance, he suggested pointing out specific contributions so they have behaviors to focus on going forward. Read all about it at FarmFutures.com.

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Harness the power of your farm's numbers

Regular bookkeeping practices help farmers stay in command of their numbers, and more and more these days that kind of knowledge is crucial when making deals with lenders. In this piece by Ag Finance Advisor Tim Brhel, we learn how a monthly budget-to-actual review can make a big difference to keeping an operation on track with its financial goals throughout the year—and lead to even more powerful benefits down the road.

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Podcast: Farming - It's a relationship business

There once was a time when all it took to be a success in farming was working longer and harder than your neighbors, and producing a really great crop. Those days have long gone by the wayside, for today we find that though those aspects are still unarguably important, this business depends more on solid working relationships than ever before.

In this episode of Modern Farm Business podcast, Dean explores a handful of methods to help us improve our relationships so that they work for us toward success in business and life.

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When 'Plan A' goes out the window...

In farming, business outcomes are often greatly swayed by factors over which we have no control—in particular, weather and the markets. So to take a little of that pressure off, farmers need to be on top of their planning game—that is, planning the things we can control in order to maintain level-headedness when those uncontrollables don’t go our way.

In his latest FarmFutures blog, Darren Frye discusses flexible planning around a variety of options “just in case” your ideal scenarios don’t play out as you’d hoped. It’s a good thing to keep in mind as you begin planning your own 2019 crop year.

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Smart Series: The four 'hats' of every farm leader

In this piece from our latest seasonal newsletter, Dean Heffta discusses the four different mindsets a successful farm leader must be adept at switching between. You might imagine that leadership, management, training and coaching are all very similar, but Dean dissects how these roles interact with employees and breaks down when a leader should wear which “hat” for maximum effectiveness.

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Podcast: Ideas are easy. Change is hard.

It's easy to make plans to change a behavior or discipline...But sometimes we get in trouble when it comes to the follow-through. In the newest Modern Farm Business, Dean reveals five principles to help us achieve success in changing unhealthy behaviors.

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Decision-making on the farm

As a leader in your operation, there are many different and equally valid ways to go about making decisions to affect the direction of the business. Some ways work better for some leaders—and in different situations—than others. This week in his Finance First column at Farm Futures, Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye explores different ways to go about decision-making for the farm’s future and how to decide which methods work best for you.

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What is your ag lender really looking for?

As our attention turns from finishing up 2018 field work to the planning stage for the 2019 crop year, we find ourselves gearing up for meetings with equipment dealers, suppliers, accountants, advisors and, of course, bankers. It can be an anxious time because so much rides on access to credit lines—but if you know what the banker wants to see, it becomes much easier.

In his latest Finance First blog post, Water Street CEO Darren Frye fills in the gaps, explaining how to show up at that lender meeting with the confidence, financial knowledge and business savvy that shows your banker you’ve really got it together. Read it for yourself before you head into your first lender meeting of the season—only at FarmFutures.com.

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Podcast: The power of questions

Questions have the power to help us focus on a particular subject or identify opportunities. In this week’s episode, Dean offers a host of questions we can use as leaders to assess ourselves and our organizations—consequently identifying areas ripe for improvement.

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Why do you farm?

Farmers can get bogged down during harvest and planting season with the day-to-day and lose focus on the bigger picture. In this piece taken from our last issue of the Smart Series newsletter, Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye reminds us to take a moment and remember the why behind our career of farming. Keeping touch with that grounding philosophy will help us make decisions to guide the farm toward its future. Without it, we’re just plodding along marking off a to-do list and not employing innovation and strategies to execute our vision for a successful future.

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When opportunity knocks, are you able to answer?

As farm leaders, we know many factors that impact the business are out of our control; you literally cannot plan for everything. What you can do, however, is engage in a smart amount of planning and preparation—which helps the minds of leaders adapt to changing situations on the fly, whether the specific changes have been prepared for or not.

In this week’s Finance First entry at FarmFutures.com, Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye writes on what sort of planning can help a farm leader give their operation an advantage. What kind of situations should a farmer be preparing for? What other planning should be on the docket, and who might be able to help us achieve these preparation goals?

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Podcast - Farm communication matters with Elaine Froese

This week Dean welcomes guest Elaine Froese—the award-winning writer of Planting the Seed of Hope and Do the Tough Things Right—whose latest book, Building Your Farm Legacy, helps farm teams across North America achieve better communication and improved conflict resolution—and to find solutions for continuing the farm business into future generations. Elaine is a certified farm family coach, mediator and advisor with nearly four decades of experience helping families form and embrace healthier habits for their relationships and businesses.

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Invest in yourself to become more of an asset to the farm

Last week Darren Frye encouraged farm leaders to make a plan for the upcoming winter “off season.” This week in his Finance First blog he’s recommending a specific step to be added to that plan: to work on developing oneself.

Read about the benefits of a leader increasing their self-awareness and building their own leadership skills—and learn what you can do to get started this winter—in this week’s column at FarmFutures.com.

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