Thoughts from a year-end review go back to core principles and values that lead to success:
It is surprising the similarities between being a small business owner and being involved in production farming.
In our Success with CRM Consulting business we have various types of day-to-day conversations with small business entrepreneurs that remind me of an earlier period in my life. You might call it the foundation of core values and principles.
I still remember at the fresh young age of 9 years riding on a John Deere tractor and standing on the driver's platform right in front of my dad's legs as he plowed the soil, 3 furrows at a time. He told me that I could either become a person who worked for another man's business or become my own boss. (I'm sure he was hoping I'd follow in his footsteps and those of several previous generations of Woodens.) This was before I'd ever heard the word 'entrepreneur.'
Through the many 'hard work' years of living the life of a crop and livestock farmer's son I also learned and lived the 4-H motto to "make the best better." Looking back, that striving for excellence was a key theme ingrained in our family culture.
My parents kept the 3 of us kids busy and engaged in school, 4-H, FFA and of course the daily farm chores. They encouraged us to continue a "learning-mindset," invest in good quality seed stock as the foundation of growth, and work your plan to a successful completion.
My mother was the "keeper of the records"- both production and financial. After my parents passed away several years ago, I got access to records she kept from the early years of their marriage. She meticulously kept track of each penny and I'm sure the extra income from the sale of those chicken eggs helped the family funds in the late 1950's. You have to admire the thriftiness of the families that grew up during the real "Great Depression"!
The understanding gained from living in Michigan where there are real observable changes of the seasons also helped teach me to be adaptable and to plan for the coming changes. During the winter we'd review our past years' gains and losses, and devise a plan for the coming Spring planting season. Mom would prepare our tax forms and Dad would work with my uncle on crop plans. Spring was extra busy because of a limited amount of the "just right" planting conditions- so there were many 12- 16 hour days. I'm sure those pop-up Spring rains provided some relief from being in the fields working. Dad did enjoy a few days off going mushroom hunting in the Spring or deer hunting in the Fall. I could observe in him a refreshed spirit with that short time away doing something fun he really enjoyed.
Re-investment and proper maintenance was another insight I observed from Mom, Dad and my Uncle Warren. Each would set aside time to learn some new practice and to keep machinery and the buildings in tip-top shape. In the mid-1960's my dad took a college short course at MSU and his new understanding of swine genetics turned into a profitable and successful extension of our family business for many years to come. We had the opportunity to provide improved genetics to other commercial farming operations. That developed into a customer service mindset that most farm kids are not exposed to. The great quality improvements in our products and the rewards we gained helped to pay for my future years in college! Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Finally, as I review what my dad and mother taught me about success, I realize that a discipline to follow through was also a key principle. Each person is responsible for his or her own view of life and circumstances. Self-discipline is required. This was later brought to my attention by one of my mentors, Jim Rohn - you are in charge of designing your life!
P.S. Production agriculture of today is now big business and is on the leading edge of technology and innovation. GPS systems help to apply the right mixture of fertilizers and seed for optimal planting. Technology is used to coordinate needed irrigation to the current weather and soil conditions. Genetics is fine tuned for the maximum seedstock potential. (Instead of that 3 furrows plowing, now we use 40-foot-wide tillage equipment! Instead of a 2-row combine, we use an 8-row header.)
What core values and principles do you need to re-visit and re-apply?