Working Sharper? Agricultural Wealth Strategies To G.R.O.W.
There is a story that tells of two lumber jacks in a race to cut down the most trees in a day. Both had the same style ax, the same amount of time and the same opportunity. However,they approached the work very differently. The first man never took a break. He chopped relentlessly all day. His opponent however took periodic breaks throughout the day. When the race was over, many were surprised by the winner. When asked how someone could possibly cut down more trees when they took so many breaks, the man simply responded that during his times of rest, he was sharpening his ax. The loser who never took time to sharpen his ax had to work harder and cut less because his ax stayed dull. Thus, it’s not always working harder that’s smarter. Likewise, are we wise enough to invest the time necessary to our business to ensure it’s strategically protected and positioned to be as prosperous as possible? The following are four keys principals to help ensure we’re working “sharper”:
Goals Identified: One of the most powerful strategies any farm, ranch, or business can do to survive and thrive long-term is establishing goals that are both challenging and realistic. Additionally, the more specific we are with our goals, the more likely we are to engage in proactive initiatives, rather than reactive ones. You may have your goals in your mind, but as a teacher once reminded me, “novices try to remember things – professionals write things down”.
Risks Analyzed: We all face various degrees of risk, and the better we learn to manage these risks, the more effective we are in protecting, transferring and growing our overall wealth. However, in order to manage our risks, we must know what they are. Consider what risks are specific to your farm, ranch and/or business. For example, do you have a transition plan in place? Do you have little to no liquidity in case of emergencies? Do you have a will, or estate plan in place to protect your family and your business from litigation, taxation, predators and creditors? Get to know your risks and then write them down, right alongside your goals.
Options Reviewed: Wisdom is often gained from personal experiences and/or by studying the experiences of others. Therefore, once you have your specific goals and risks identified, seek a team of specialists to begin reviewing your options to best accomplish and address each of them. Often times these specialists include your banker, attorney, CPA, investment and/ trust officer. Perhaps you don’t have all these connections – then that’s a good place to begin! Ask your friends and colleagues who they use, but don’t be surprised if they don’t know either. For this remains one of the greatest opportunities for many – gaining experienced consultation from a comprehensive team of trusted advisors. If you have some, you are fortunate. So, be
generous enough to share their names with others.
Work It: Last, but not least, for any plan to be effective, it must be engaged. Therefore, after you have reviewed the options available to you and have determined they are supportive to your goals and managing your risks, don’t hesitate to act on them and put them to work. This is a vital step where many fail in their overall planning – execution. However, as we well know, in order to reap a harvest, we must first sow the seed and that requires work. In closing, there may be moments you feel like you simply don’t have the time to commit to all these initiatives. However, don’t forget the lesson from our lumber jacks mentioned earlier. The time you invest to meet your objectives is time sharpening your ax. So that in the end, you win.
Written by: Dagan Sharpe
Dagan is Senior Vice President at Queensborough National Bank and Trust Company where he specializes in wealth management. Read Dagan’s Bio and listen to a recent interview with him here.