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Defining Goals

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Victoria Cotten of Perry-Winkle Farms in their new CoolBot storage. Photo Credit: Debbie Roos

Victoria Cotten of Perry-Winkle Farms in their new CoolBot storage. Photo Credit: Debbie Roos

Having personal and business long range goals is important to keep you inspired when the going gets tough and to help you make decisions. It’s important for goals to be clearly defined, otherwise they are hard to track and follow through on. Goals provide motivation and inspiration that can help your farm stand the test of time. 

Creating SMART goals will help you develop goals that you can track and follow through on. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound. To write SMART goals, you should include who is responsible for achieving the goal, when you want to achieve the goal, and how you will achieve the goal. It’s important to remember what’s realistic based on your individual situation. You can make short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals for yourself and your farm business. Once you start writing your goals, you may find that you have a lot of goals. Once you have all of your goals written down, you can prioritize the list to decide which ones to tackle first.

Business Goals

Planning farm business goals is important to help you make decisions to support the financial sustainability of your farm business. A primary business goal for most farmers is to generate enough income to cover most, or all, of business and personal living expenses. If that is your main goal, consider how to turn that into a SMART goal. For example, if you want your farm business to generate a certain amount of profit, then you may have a goal of selling a certain amount of dollars of product in a year. This goal will help guide your decisions of what to plan and where to sell your product to meet that goal. 

Other examples of SMART farm business goals may include:

  • Pay off one operating loan by the end of the year.
  • Find one new restaurant to sell to along an existing delivery route over the winter.
  • To reuse equipment and avoid taking out new loans for equipment.

Personal Goals

Besides being financially sustainable, your business needs to be sustainable based on your personal needs and wants. This is why it’s important to have personal goals along with your business goals and to consider how they align and what you need to reconcile. For example, a personal goal may be to take one ten-day vacation each year away from the farm. If you want to take this vacation during the growing season, you will have to consider additional labor needs and how that impacts your business goals.

Examples of SMART personal goals include:

  • In ten years, I will only have the debt needed to expand the farm business.
  • To have enough farm income where nobody has to work off the farm in seven years.
  • Take a ten day vacation away from the farm each year.

Breaking Goals into Actionable Steps

Once you define your SMART goal for yourself and your business, you can break it down into smaller objectives and tasks. Objectives are shorter-term achievements that help you move towards your goals. Tasks are specific actions to take. Consider the following example:

  • SMART Goal: To have enough farm income where nobody has to work off the farm in seven years.
    •  Objective: Develop value-added products to increase revenue.
      •  Task: Gather market data for which types of products our customers want.
      • Task: Contact and tour the local commercial kitchen.

Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress towards your goals can foster a sense of achievement and help to identify areas that require more focus. It may be helpful to identify times to sit down and reflect on your progress towards your goals. You can do this as frequently as you would like, but at least twice a year would be beneficial. You can also use tools such as spreadsheets and different apps to track your progress. Even a worksheet, like this one, can help you break down your big goals into more manageable objectives and tasks. Sharing your goals with others, such as family or friends, can help hold you accountable. You can try different approaches to find a system that works for you. Remember to be kind to yourself if you don’t achieve your goal as soon as you would like to. It’s more important to continue working towards your goals. Intentionally tracking your progress towards your goals can help you achieve them in a timely manner and prevent you from drifting away from them.