The farming industry is littered with fake ‘wannabes.’
You’ve heard about them.
You even know them because you’ve met them.
You’ve read the headlines in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. You know those predictable headlines that go something like, “How I Make Millions Growing X” or “How I Quit My Prestigious Job to Start Farming” and much more.
And so you blindly get ‘inspired,’ confidently walk to your boss’s office, submit your resignation, collect all your dues combine with savings, and plough everything you have into your next ‘million dollar farming investment.’
After all who doesn’t want to quit a low paying job? Who loves to put up with a patronizing, biased and moody boss?
Who will resist the temptation to start their own venture and make millions in the shortest time possible while doing too little?
What’s better than starting a small farm?
Sure enough, you start the farm, make thousands or even millions!
You feel accomplished and confident. The fear of making huge investments escapes into the thin air. Justified, you approach your bank manager and ask for a bloated loan for the subsequent growing season.
But before anything else, you also get free media coverage to ‘inspire’ others with your farming prowess.
Oblivious to the fact that;
“A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on the days that he shouldn’t” – John Millington
So you make your second move and alas!
Just as expected, somehow in a split of a second you lose your entire crop to pests or hit by extreme weather conditions or something else.
What do you do?
While I agree the intentions are good and that indeed there’s money (lots of it) to be made from farming, it’s not always as easy as it sounds in those headlines.
Furthermore, what those headlines don’t tell you is how to consistently earn from your farming venture. It’s not that you’re cursed, it’s not that you’re stupid, it’s not that you’re good for nothing.
It’s not even your fault.
It’s just that people are economical with the truth.
In addition, few people would like to be bearers of bad news. So they focus on the sweet spot and avoid the harsh reality.
But I’ll be frank with you and hand you the bitter pill.
First, farming isn’t for everyone and you’re better off with your patronizing boss. Second, it’s not a get rich quick scheme. Third, you’ve got to have the skill necessary to succeed or be ready to learn, and finally, it’s true that you can quit your day job, invest in farming and thrive rather than survive.
You can even go out on holidays for several weeks and not have to worry.
But first, you have to learn one fundamental principle of getting repeat success in Agribusiness.
The principle that will help you to get results over and over again. One that will make your revenue more predictable. One that all successful farmers use.
The point is, it’s not important how much revenue you get from your Agribusiness but how persistent and sustainable that revenue is.
Now before you get any ideas let me ask you something.
Do you have a farming business or you’re the business?
The best way to answer this question is to imagine a situation where for some reasons you cannot tend to your farm.
What happens? Will the farm survive?
Or will everything fall apart – Maybe a reduction in yields, pest and disease epidemic, untimely delivery of produce to the market, weeds taking over, and customers fleeing to your competitor?
What will it be?
If your farming business survives without you, then you have a successful Agribusiness. If it collapses, then you’re the business and that’s a risky ground to tread on.
The only basic principle that will help you to turn things around is establishing a system!
Other non-Agricultural businesses are able to withstand the test of time because they have systems in place to guide their day to day operations. Unlike in farming where everything is through trial and error.
You can’t afford not to have a system. And for that matter a well-documented system.
Now, let’s revisit our initial scenario where you got inspired by so and so making millions from farming. But this time, you take your time to research what the market wants, you validate your idea and think through the whole process even before you begin.
You get a checklist of everything you need to do, you determine the price you have to pay and strive to pay it in full.
For example, you need a market for your produce. So you write a pitch or proposal to your target market and lock in some buyers and so on.
All along you document what you need to do and how you will do it and the resources you need. Fast forward, you get a bountiful harvest and sell it at the best market price because you’ve followed a proven system.
You make lots of money but that’s not the beauty of it. You’ve left behind footsteps that can be followed over again to get the same results in future.
That’s the importance of a system.
When you have a documented system of how to get things done around the farm, it becomes easy to leverage the efforts of other people. It also becomes easy to delegate duties that would otherwise demand your attention.
To put everything into perspective, you need a system for each of the following
⇒ How to get a suitable market for your farm produce.
⇒ How to select your main enterprises
⇒ How to prepare and manage your soil
⇒ Managing routine operations
⇒ Scouting and monitoring
⇒ Risk analysis and prevention
⇒ Packaging and presentation
⇒ Post-harvest handling and value addition
⇒ Budgeting and insurance
It means that you need a procedure for all of the above. Now whether you’re present or not anyone can follow those procedures to get the same results that you’d have got.
To summarize, I’m not against farmers bragging about their accomplishments. I’m not against any media covering the achievements and testimonies of Agribusiness entrepreneurs.
I’m not even disputing the fact that even newbies doing trial and error with farming can make some serious cash once in a while.
But all I’m saying is that it hurts me to see a farmer hit the headlines today only to find them languishing in poverty and desperation a few months later. And all because they didn’t have a system to replicate and scale their results.
Don’t be one of them.
Approach farming with a sober mindset, a system, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
And when you do, come back and thank me 🙂
Seriously, I'll be waiting...
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on December 27, 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.