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You know better than anyone that having a farm business is challenging. With so many factors outside of your control, a demanding workload and limited mobility, it is becoming more difficult to convince the next generation to remain on the farm. To address these issues and to help ensure a solid future, succession planning must be a part of your overall business plan.
Reviewing Your Operation
To build a solid succession plan - and integrate it into your business plan – you need to sit down and review your operation with your family. Because this may be an emotional discussion for some family members, you may want to have an objective third party facilitate this process.
Some questions you will need to look at during this time include:
With this information you can develop a clear vision of where your family sees your operation today, where your family wants the operation to be in the future and most importantly, how you can transfer ownership and management to the next generation.
Evaluating Your Current Situation
Take a candid look at who within your family are potential candidates to take over your business - and whether they have the skills to do so successfully. What kind of personal and educational development is necessary to help them get ready for the next step?
Review key opportunities and potential threats to your business. With this evaluation, you will have the foundation you need to put your plans into action.
Assessing Key Issues
Every succession plan should address key issues such as financial performance and the timeframe for transitioning ownership. Try to establish financial indicators to help gauge your business’s progress over time - and be sure to monitor those indicators to help you stay on track. Think about the critical path for achieving your goals and then follow a realistic action plan to achieve them.
Developing Your Strategic Road Map
Develop and agree to any key action items required to address the issues you identified earlier. Prioritize in detail any steps your professional advisor has recommended as part of your transition process. Most importantly, make this road map the basis for your family’s personal and business strategic plan.
The Result: A Process That Provides the Foundation to Succeed
Your plan needs to be consistent yet flexible enough to respond to where your family wants the business to go and how you want to manage its transition to the next generation. The transfer of ownership and management is not a one-off event; it is an ongoing process that must adapt to changing business and family situations.
No one can predict the future of the agricultural industry – from weather conditions and disease to new technologies and business structures. But by preparing for the future through a comprehensive succession plan, you will have peace of mind knowing that you have provided for future generations and built the foundation to help them succeed.
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