What do you care about?
In a conversation with a fellow business advisor recently, the topic was about how much demand for our services there would be this fall considering the drought, rising interest rates, a rising Canadian dollar, and volatile crop prices. He said to me, “The work we do is important; people need our help,” and then went on to say how he expects there to be significant demand from the marketplace for our financial advisory work.
I questioned whether the farming industry is “generally” ready to place enough importance on financial matters of cash flow, profitability, and leverage to create the demand he described. My experience is that there are pockets of business people who see the value and hire the help, but generally the financial woes faced at the farmgate have yet to cause enough pain to spur on action.
Change will only occur when the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same.
It seems like there is always something more important.
His response, “People will tell you what is important, and very clearly too! It’s their behavior. Their actions show you very clearly what they care about most.”
Based on how farm equipment sales continue to be incredibly strong, despite challenges to cash flow and profitability, it’s not rocket-surgery to figure out what is a top priority among farmers…
Faced with a choice of one response over the other, how would you choose:
What do you care about?
a) Ensuring a profitable enterprise for long term growth and sustainability
b) Having a modern/late model fleet of machinery
a) Investing in the crop that provides your income
b) Investing in an “asset” that is a merely a cost and reduces your profitability 5 different ways
a) Getting bigger
b) Getting better
Years ago (WAY back) when I drove a fuel truck for a living, one of my customers always needed significantly less heater fuel (fuel oil) than any other customer on the regular monthly top-ups during one particularly cold winter. It’s not that his house was that new or air-tight; it was not that he didn’t have the money to pay for the fuel (they were a wealthy family.) It was that, by his own admission, he “kept it as cool as possible in the house, about 64 (degrees Fahrenheit).” This was a family of 6, with kids ranging in age from 10-18, whose comfort was less important than money. By his behavior, it was clear what he cared about most.
To Plan for Prosperity
If you feel like you might be facing a choice this year as you evaluate your financial performance, you won’t be alone. Hard choices need to be made by business-people everywhere, every year, all the time. When considering what choice to make, first ask yourself “What do you care about”. When what you care about is clear, the strategy and the action become obvious.
If you are having difficulty defining what you care about, look at past behavior: it will paint the picture for you.