Starting small with on-ranch business planning

Photo by Rich Roberts (Flickr CC BY 2.0).

For many involved in the production side of the cattle business, sitting down to office work isn’t our idea of a good time. But, says Sandy Russell of Spring Creek Land and Cattle Consulting, developing a business plan is a critical part of the job.

“It’s key for any successful business — doesn’t matter if we’re talking beef or any other business — to have a business plan,” she said, in an interview. “And I think in the ranching sector and the beef business we’ve kind of dropped the ball there on a lot of operations…”

It can feel like a daunting task (no doubt why so many have dropped the ball), but Russell’s suggestion to start small reminded me of an exercise the crew at Ranching for Profit took participants through. If my memory serves, you begin by placing a sticky note on the wall with a goal you want to achieve ten years down the road, and if others on your team agree that this could be a good move for the business, you work backwards to determine the steps it will take to get there.

And, says Russell, having those other voices at the table is incredibly important. Everyone from business partners to wage earners have insight and experience that differs from our own.

Arguably the most important aspects of the process? In Russell’s words: “communicate, communicate, communicate.”

RealAgriculture’s Debra Murphy sat down with Sandy Russell at BeefTech to discuss the importance of a plan, how to start, who to involve and the difference a plan has in an operation’s profitability goals. Have a listen to the entire conversation, and let us know the first step your operation took in the journey towards creating a business plan.

For more on developing a farm business plan, check out:

RealAgriculture Launches New Series to Help You Mind Your Farm Business (MYFB)
MYFB — Ep. 23: Four Elements of a Well-Crafted Farm Business Plan
MYFB — Ep. 29: Putting together a solid farm business plan


Debra Murphy

Debra Murphy is a Field Editor based out of central Alberta, where she never misses a moment to capture with her camera the real beauty of agriculture. Follow her on Twitter @RealAg_Debra


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