John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Business Goals

Business Goals are an extremely important component of success.  While no one can predict the future with any certainty, lack of goals will result in lack of focus.  The business plan should at minimum include:

  • Short Term - Goals for the next two years of farm operations
  • Long Term - Goals for the next three to ten years
  • Constraints on Business Goals - What might hinder the achievement of short and long term goals?
  • Family Goals - If the business is a family farm, do the family goals complement or conflict with the business goals?

Business goals should be in writing and they should be "SMART".  Research has conclusively shown that written goals are much more likely to be be attained!

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time limited

 Short Term Goals

Short term goals are generally very specific, even for a start-up business.  These goals can generally be specified by date of completion.  Items listed on short term goals might include:

  • Captial investments (buildings, equipment, fencing, breeding stock, etc.), including completion dates
  • Phase-in or phase-out of individual farm enterprises
  • Development and implementation of marketing strategies
  • Sales goals
  • Etc.

The more specific the short term goals, the better.

Long Term Goals

Long term goals capture the strategic direction the business is taking.  Long term goals should take account of:

  • The mission statement
  • The vision of the owners
  • Age of owners (we are getting older!)
  • Ultimate disposition of the business (pass on to children, sell, etc.)

As an example, we determined many years ago to engage in sustainable practices (mission and vision).  These long term goals have led us to diversify our farm operations, to change our husbandry and land management, and have also led to accepting roles of industry leadership in such organizations as the Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America.

Constraints on Business Goals

Goals will only be attained if time to taken to identify constraints.  Possible areas to consider include:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Financial state
  • Market trends
  • Competition
  • Competing interests (day job, family, etc.)

It is easy to forget many potetnial constraints.  Failing to look at those things that might interfere with one's plan can lead to frustration, or worse, failure.

Family Goals

If the goals of the business are not compatible with the goals of the family, then problems will surely follow!  A farm, or any business for that matter, is very much a family affair. 

Take time to think through how the business will support, or interfere, with the goals of the family. This should include input from children as well as spouses/partners.

Consider the dairy farmer we know.  He dreamed for years of passing the family owned farm on to one or more of his children.  They all moved on after college.  He was forced to sell the farm at age 60, since he was no longer able to operate it.  Upon consummation of the sale his wife left him, taking her half of the proceeds, and went traveling - something that she had wanted for many years but was unable to do since she was tied to the farm.  This farmer's failure to consider the goals of the family cost him far more than the business.

Alpaca Sales

"The foreman turned round to hear patiently and, lifting an elbow, began to scratch slowly in the armpit of his alpaca jacket..."

James Joyce
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