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Draft a Team

Using an advisory team can help farm/ranch owners make better decisions.

by Kaci Foraker, editorial intern

BROOKINGS, S.D. (June 18, 2019) — The key to developing a business is finding people invested in watching the business succeed, said Alan Hojer, Keeping Farmers Farming manager at First Dakota National Bank. Hojer kicked off the Young Producers Symposium at the 2019 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) symposium in Brookings, S.D., June 18.

Hojer said an advisory team dedicated to a farmer or rancher and their business will help them make the best decisions possible to keep their businesses in operation.

Alan Hojer

Alan Hojer
Keeping Farmers Farming manager at First Dakota National Bank, advised against inviting your banker to be part of your advisory team. Instead, he suggested inviting them to observe team meetings. [Photo by Kaci Foraker]

“I don’t care if it’s a donut shop, agriculture or whatever it is, you are going to surround yourself with some key people,” Hojer said. “There are people out there that know how to start a donut shop and know everything you need to be successful in that area. I don’t care if it’s that or agriculture. That’s really what an advisory team is for — people you can tap into to make you better tomorrow than what you are today.”

As farming operations grow and new family members start working on the farm, the entire function gets more complex. There are many tools for farming practices and financial decisions, but it can be difficult for just one person to effectively make the best decisions for a business.

“It is important to have an advisory team, because many are trying to run third-generation operations with a first-generation vision and first-generation tools,” Hojer said. “We have not been implementing the tools that we need for communication or financial systems to run the complexity of our businesses.”

The Dos

Finding an advisory team is not always the easiest task, Hojer explained. There are many things to consider when forming such a group.

Find people with personalities that differ from the business owner’s, he advised. Outside opinions will let the business research new practices, while continually seeking new ways to advance profitability.

Invite people to the team who are willing to challenge each other for the benefit of the business, he added. Those who are dedicated to the business’s success will become active advisors.

When it comes to dealing with finances for the business, many owners want their bankers included on their advisory team. Hojer cautioned against this, because bankers often have other interests rather than solely focusing on the prosperity of the business. Rather than completely excluding bankers from an advisory team, he recommended asking them to serve as an observer of the team’s meetings.

Growth, which requires new ideas to be adopted or older ideas to be nixed, is vital to the survival of any business, Hojer said. Change will happen in an ongoing business, but it is important to remember the business’s morals and original purpose.

Invite individuals to the advisory team who have faced many hardships or dealt with failure. Experiencing failure usually gives a person an alternate view of a situation, he noted, which could greatly contribute to making the best business decisions.

Lastly, after creating the team, provide transparent information to all parties, Hojer advised. Accurate timely information will aid the advisory team in offering suggestions most likely to find success.

Farm operations involve many decisions that could be extremely impactful, but an advisory team helps the business owner make the best possible decisions with a large amount of information considered.

The 2019 BIF Annual Convention was hosted by South Dakota State University and the South Dakota Beef Breeds Council June 18-21 at the University Comfort Suites and Convention Center in Bookings. ANGUS MEDIA® provides comprehensive online coverage of the event at www.BIFconference.com. Visit the Newsroom for summaries, proceedings, PowerPoints, video and/or audio of the sessions and the Awards page for announcements and photos of award winners.

Editor’s Note: This summary was written under contract or by staff of ANGUS MEDIA®. Through an agreement with the Beef Improvement Federation, we encourage reprinting of the articles to those who will adhere to the reprint guidelines available on this site. Please review those guidelines or contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270. PowerPoints are posted with permission of the presenter and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the presenter. We welcome educational venues and cattlemen to link to this site as a service to their audience.

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