Starting, owning and running a successful and profitable farm is one of the great joys in life, most especially with an uprising interest in diversification of income viz-a-viz the agricultural sector. Deciding to go into farming is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life.
Let’s face it, being a farmer is not an easy task these days. There are obstacles along the road, yet no guarantee of support or assistance, little or no support from financial institutions or the government, cost of inputs are rising every day, yet farmers are continually being hammered on price.
But one thing is sure, if you farm wisely, if you set up a right farm, one suited to your strengths, one that you’re passionate about, one that epitomizes your highest dreams and values, and one that certainly paves a way for you to make a nice profit. Then, there’s no telling how far farming can take you.
Wouldn’t you like to learn and imbibe the habits of highly successful farmers?
Dear friends and fellow farmers, I have gathered for you seven habits of highly successful farmers you have to put into constant practice to join the league of successful farmers. Let’s begin.
1. Be Prepared
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people make a decision to start out as farmers. But while most succeed, many do fail. Why? One of the commonest causes of farm business failure is lack of preparation.
“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.”
Robert H. Schuller
You’ll need to prepare for the responsibilities that come with farm ownership, farm location, land lease or acquisition, security, good agricultural practices, farm management, farming style/system, crop production or livestock, produce marketing, etc.
You have to draft a solid plan on which crops to plant, the specific seeds to plant, sourcing for farm workers and their compensation plan, farm management style, operation schedule, and go to market plan, to mention a few.
Hence, the starting point for a successful farmer would be research, survey and consultation. It isn’t a bad idea seeking the help of agricultural experts on drafting of a business plan for your farm or at least draw up a business model canvas for your farm.
Solid preparation is an essential recipe for success in farming.
2. Value Creation
Every successful farmer produces something of value. Agricultural sector is a world full of opportunities to make other people’s lives better.
One of the key attributes of a successful farmer is the ability to identify crops or produce whose demand outweighs the supply or what people don’t have enough of, and then find a way to produce them.
Exotic crops such as sweet corn, radish, cucumber, watermelon, are always wanting in the market most especially during dry season.
Successful farmer focuses on creating value with his farming pursuits, because without value creation, a business can’t exist, you can’t transact with others unless you’ve something valuable to offer.
Always ask yourself what value am I trying to create with my farming activities, the real more value you offer to the market, the better your chances of your farm success and the more prosperous you become.
3. Marketing Mindset
Before you start that first hive, jar your first kraut, or shear your first ewe, raise those broilers and certainly before you plant hundreds of acres of corn, — you’ll need to invest time (lots and lots of time) figuring out where you’re going to sell your products and how you’re going to get them to market.
The market comes first; your ideas and/or wishes have to come second (or even third). You simply can’t start a successful farming business if there are not enough people willing and able to buy your products or services in your service area.
Having enough people to buy what you produce week after week, month after month, and year after year is the premier element for making it in farming. To the ordinary farmer, having expertise on farming or crop production is the most important skill. But for the successful farmer, this is only the beginning.
Successful farmer starts his farming adventure from the market, he analyses the market and gets more details about crops or produce with high market admiration and good returns on investment.
In other words, successful farmers think about what they’re doing from the viewpoint of the people who need it. Having a marketing mindset means focusing not only on having good yield, but also on how what you plant fetches you great return on your investment.
Successful farmers plant crops that people want to buy and strive hard to own the sales process! If you critically observe agricultural sector, you’ll discover that successful ones are those who plant what people want or those who own the sales process.
When it comes to farming, a lifetime of daily challenges is guaranteed. As you might have already discerned, agriculture is replete with uncertainties, surprises, boredom, depression and intellectual challenges. Patience is always befitting.
If failure is a major concern to you, here’s a spoiler: In farming, you will fail — 100 percent chance.
For instance, you might have done what’s required of you as a seasoned farm, get your GAP right, have a bumper harvest and then the ruling market price at the time you’re harvesting suddenly become unfavorable!
In fact, failure on a farm is every bit as certain as death. It’s okay to fail fast. Moreover, in farming, failure seems unavoidable. While painful at first, failure can be an enormously useful tool.
Experience doesn’t come with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, and it doesn’t come from a book. There are no shortcuts; it must be slowly acquired over time.
Every successful farmer has gotten knocked down at least a dozen times in their life. And they turned those dozen losses into victories by getting back up and trying again.
Remember, the rewards of farming aren’t instantaneous. You must be determined, patient, persistent, and willing to make sacrifices to ensure those rewards eventually do come.
Owing and managing a farm takes a tremendous amount of energy. Farming is typically a seven-day-a-week job, year-round, most especially so for the new farmer.
As Dennis Kimbro, the best-selling author of Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice, mentioned, “Successful people make the 40-hour work week look like child’s play.” He later added, “If your work is your play and your play is your work, you will never work a day in your life.”
Your body and mind are the tools you use to get things done. It’s critical to have an honest understanding of your physical and emotional energy levels, living within your capabilities and not overextending yourself.
Burnout is high in farming. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t push yourself or challenge your preconceived notions about what you can accomplish.
Highly successful farmers are very energetic. Keeping your own energetic sustainability in mind — this means taking breaks, eating nourishing food, getting a reliable night’s sleep — will be crucial to prolonged success.
6. Profit Oriented
Regardless of where you live, what you grow, or which agricultural methods you use, if you don’t make a profit, you won’t stay in business for long.
Profit is a very simple concept; it’s bringing in more money than you spend now or at some point in the foreseeable future.
Farming is highly capital intensive, running at a loss for the first few years or so is actually a reasonable expectation, and you should take measures to prepare for that.
But before long, profitability (and profitability at a reasonable rate of return) must occur. Successful farmers combine both short lived arable crops with exotic cash crops to generate income as quick as possible.
They make every attempt to avoid the purgatory of always breaking even, or worse perpetually operating in debt.
Successful farmers are profit-oriented because profit provides a cushion to weather unexpected events. The more profitable your farm is, the better it will be able to handle uncertainty and change, and the more options it has to respond to the unforeseeable.
7. Risk Management
Risk surrounds us. People always hate taking risk with their hard-earned money, they hate to lose. They hate to feel stupid. They hate to make bad decisions or waste money. They hate to take risks.
Avoiding a risk may mean avoiding a potentially big opportunity. It’s always said, ‘take risk or lose chance’. Successful farmers are calculated risk takers.
Farming is a risky venture, successful farmers make assiduous efforts to reduce and manage risks. Risks can be reduced or mitigated by sharing them, diversify your farm investment base, and avoidance of waste in any form.
Successful farmers make sure that the risks resulting from their decisions are measured, understood and as far as possible eliminated.
Despite the fact that farming business is ever changing, with focus on continual improvement, ongoing learning and good business habits, you can join the league of successful farmers.