It’s a new year – and with a new year comes the desire to change – and do things differently, and better.

It’s important to start the year on the right foot – so you can set the year up for success.

We are all at different places in our business and personal journey.

  • Some are just starting out (we’ve engaged with a number of start-ups lately)
  • Some are looking to expand (either to new products, or increased production)
  • Some are looking to consolidate – to make their lives easier
  • And some are looking to the next generation – and planning for succession.

Whatever your stage or situation, here are 4x key areas that are fundamental to your business – to make sure that the year goes in the direction you want it to.

1. Clarity on your business and personal direction

This is easily the most critical for any business – and often the most confronting. Stephen Covey (author of the 7x Habits of Highly Effective People) sums it up:

“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

This means, get clear about where your business is heading, and exactly what you want out if it. If you don’t, all your blood, sweat and tears (and money) may be heading in completely the wrong direction!

Our experience is business owners hate the idea of working out their “Vision” – because if they don’t know the answer, they feel uncomfortable. What’s worse – feeling uncomfortable or having a ladder up against the wrong wall?

2. Know what makes your business unique

Most highly profitable businesses stand out in the marketplace. Something sets them, their people, the product or the way things are done apart from everyone else.

To stand out from the crowd, you must understand what makes your business unique.

Many (if not most) business owners don’t believe they are unique (i.e. “I produce the same cotton / grain / livestock etc as everyone around here”) – but there is always something that makes you, your people or your business special.

What most don’t realise is that it may not have to be about your product at all. It may be about you (the business owner), the (special) people in your business, your personal relationships, your “story” (clean, green, or family produced), or how you engage with your customers (superior customer service etc).

So, what makes you unique?

3. Have a conversation with your customer

Business owners are often on a constant search to figure out how to get a competitive advantage over others in the marketplace.  However – the answer is often under your nose. Why not ask your customer? What are they looking for? What do they want in the future – that you may be able to help them with?

And who is your customer? Is it the person that eats the steak you produce – or buys the shirt your cotton creates? More than likely, we’re talking about the next step in the value chain – whoever buys whatever you produce. It might be a meat processor, or the cotton gin, the grain buyer – or the wholesaler.

Remember, they may have contracts to fill, or niche supply agreements to meet. You might find yourself in the right place at the right time. Or more importantly, they’ll probably be impressed that you are asking questions about what they (and their customers) want – and this makes you memorable.

Few businesses even think about this – hence an immediate competitive advantage for you.

4. Remember to run your agribusiness as a business

Many agribusinesses are multi-million dollar enterprises, often run by a small core team, or family unit.

Sometimes, decision making processes are somewhat relaxed, and less disciplined. It is important to remember that you are running a business – and a low-key “corporate” approach, with size-appropriate processes, systems and procedures is vitally important.

While some would argue that the corporate approach described above complicates a family farming enterprise, in actual fact it can help take the pressure off, make the bank happier, keep your personnel (including family) more organised and give you more time out.

Consider whether such an organised approach could deal with these often heard comments: “No one talks in this business – XXX just goes off and does things that we don’t even know about”, or “Why did he need to buy that, he knows we can’t afford it”, or “We already have a stock of that in the shed – all he had to do was ask”.

The end result? Systems and procedures can make for improved communication and decision making. Because everyone has agreed to a course of action, they are on the same page and know what is expected of them.

 

Did 2016 feel “a little all over the place” – and you’re looking to approach 2017 in a different way?

If you want to take a more focussed and efficient approach, that takes up less time, energy and money – then consider whether the ABDI CEO Mentoring Program could help your business.

Monthly learning materials around business best practice, workshops where you get to ask questions and bounce ideas off business specialists, and to really make change in your business, 1:1 mentoring with your personal mentor.

 

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