Start Planning to Plan

Article by Brant Jansen

Well, it's that time of year again – harvest is in full swing, and before you know it, we'll be decking the halls for Christmas and enjoying some holiday downtime.

Where does the time go? I’m not sure – which is why it's crucial to set aside some of it for planning.

As farming businesses are becoming bigger and more complex, I am seeing a lot more clients holding annual (and sometimes more frequent) strategic and planning meetings with their group of advisers, generally the accountant, farm consultant and bank manager.

If you aren’t already doing this, I  encourage you to have a think about starting this in 2024 after your budget is completed. It's a great opportunity for the whole family, as business owners, to sit down together and discuss important matters in an open setting.

Topics that I generally see discussed include the budget overview, preliminary tax planning discussions, grain marketing, review of structure, review of banking facilities, HR & OHS, future land purchases, equipment changeovers, review of succession plans, review of retirement plans, and review of estate plans. 

These are more formal topics, but you can also chat about operational matters as well – from agreement on working hours, to holiday plans, to how often everyone would like to see internal finance reports being sent around.

I can add many other things to the list, but what’s important is that you make a list of topics that all family members contribute to.

Best practice is to have a formal agenda and some meeting minutes taken with an action plan. But if you’re not quite at that stage yet, writing the list on the farm office whiteboard or on the back of a coke carton still works! At least it’s a start, and even better if you can jot down some meeting points to refer to the next time you have a meeting.

Most importantly, make sure all the family members involved in the business are there.

Planning and keeping the communication lines open is vital in any business. So, take a moment to think about how you’re going to invest your time planning in 2024. Then contact your accountant or your local Byfields Business Adviser to commence discussions around starting the plan.

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