Professional Development Program






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Unit 1: Planning and Business Development

As an advisor or consultant, you can encourage farmers and ranchers to make planning a priority. This may involve helping them put on the brakes a bit and asking some tough questions about the business. Most planning processes encompass three basic questions:
  • Where are you now? (current situation)
  • Where do you want to go? (vision and goals)
  • How will you get there? (strategy)
Even before you get to any formal planning process, these questions are a good starting point for conversations with farmers or ranchers about their business ideas. Also, they can be applied at any stage in the product life-cycle.

Product Life-cycle

  1. Development Stage

  2. Growth State

  3. Mature Stage

  4. Decline State

For a complete definition of the “Product Life-cycle” check out: Four Phases of a Product.

When working with farmers in south central New York, Cooperative Extension educators found that questions about values, goals, resource use, productivity and profitability helped them better understand the farm businesses they were working with. Likewise, farmers found that questioning helped them make better decisions; they felt more prepared to communicate their ideas and management plans with family, lenders and others involved in the farm business. This kind of communication takes a certain level of trust between the advisor and the farmer, which may take some time to develop. One way to achieve that level of trust is with a planning team or advisory group.
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