These past two years have forced many producers to decide whether they are truly committed to being in the dairy industry long term. Our industry is no longer designed for those who are “faint of heart.” Assuming you have decided to stay in the dairy industry and are not reading this from the sidelines, you definitely will need a plan going forward. Every new client that we work with at Success Strategies, Inc. goes through a challenging set of questions to help them set objectives and determine where, specifically, they want to be in three years, five years and in the long term. I call this the Discovery Process™ because it assists producers to do some soul searching about where they want to take their business, and perhaps just as important, it forces them to outline what their strengths and weaknesses really are. What factors do you have going for you in your business? What items are presently working against you? What can you do about them? What options are available to you to overcome weaknesses or challenges? As we complete this initial process, I believe that it is essential that we focus on being optimistic. Please note that I did not say to be naïve. Just be optimistic. The primary benefit I find from maintaining a sense of optimism is that it leads me to be more proactive in my decisions instead of being reactive. A sense of optimism will help to keep you moving forward. In 2003 (following 20 months of low milk prices), I gave each of my clients a placard entitled “The Light of Optimism” for Christmas as a potential source of encouragement. I am amazed at how many clients still have that gift in their offices. Remember, the key is to keep making forward progress, even if it is in small increments. I get very concerned when people throw their hands up in frustration and give up. On the contrary, never let what you cannot do interfere with what you can. There is always something you can do. Instead of stating, “I can’t,” ask yourself if that is what you really want. If not, start thinking about what you can do. Maybe you could not cash flow these past two years, but you could do some other tasks. How about cutting some expenses to reduce your losses? How about building a margin in with Puts and Calls? Additionally, the last 24 months has been a crucial time to keep your Loan-to-Value percentages on your herd loan and feed line within compliance. While I realize this has been difficult, it was not an impossible task. My clients verified that during the last 24 months, but, once again, I feel it is part of having a plan on everything your do… As my good friend and motivational speaker Les Brown says, “Wherever you are in life, you made an appointment to be there.” To summarize, think about what you want for your business. Do you have a clearly defined plan for your operations? Be honest with yourself, and think about the following points:
- Have you determined what you want to achieve?
- Are you optimistic about your odds of getting there?
- Are you taking all the necessary steps to reach your objectives?
- Don’t worry about always having the right answer. Sometimes, it is more important to ask the right questions such as: “Given the current state of my business, what can I do to improve my results?”
- Don’t forget to run the “What If” scenarios. These can be critical to your success.
- Finally, if you need help, get it. Talk to your CPA, your banker and others who have had similar challenges. If I can help you, please let me know. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be watching for my new program in 2017 entitled Six Hours to Your Best Year Ever!
Start reviewing your available options today. There is no better time to start than the present moment. Think about it. “Someone has to take responsibility. I will.” Winston Churchill, Former Prime Minister of Great Britain