Take stock and thrive - how to work ON your business
When you are busy with the day-to-day of running of your business, it's hard to know what needs to be done behind the scenes to ensure future success. You don't have to set aside an entire day to get all your planning, accounting and networking done - do it in small intervals throughout the year. Choose a time when you know you're not going to be knee-deep in calving or picking and make it a priority. Working ON your business is just as important as working IN it.
Whether you want to expand, develop or maintain your current activity, consider the following advice:
Connect to other farmers. Working in a silo can be lonely and overwhelming so link up with others who share the same challenges. In the dairy industry, you can sign up to a free service called Dairy Connect, which puts you in touch with a support farmer happy to help. Look to your industry groups for networking opportunities and events.
Bring in the experts. Having a fresh pair of eyes is crucial when you're busy with day-to-day tasks. Think of trusted, knowledgeable professionals who can help or give advice on monitoring your business plan, your finances, employment, environmental management, funding and networking. Getting a rural business mentor is a great place to start.
Know your numbers. Big, small, milk or fruit - when you rely on living produce it makes accounting more complex. Record your stock numbers and any land use changes, understand depreciation of machinery and equipment, stay up to date with Government subsidies, and use cloud apps for accounting, resources and bank accounts.
Talk it up. Sharing key information about your business with everyone in your farm team will ensure no surprises, prevent conflict, lower potential issues, reduce wastage and give everyone a sense of ownership so they work harder, and smarter, together. Diarise regular meetings or phone calls to talk about cash management, budgets and production reports.
Make the most of your accountant. To get your business and cash flow in the best position, talk to your accountant about tax planning, accounting software, and discuss your plans for 2020 to see how the numbers stack up and what you need to do to achieve your goals.
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Property sales on IRD radar
Buying or selling a home? You'll now need to provide your IRD number as part of the transaction process. The change will allow IRD to know who's flipping owner-occupier homes on a regular basis, and better enforce the existing law that ensures people pay tax on the profit. The move won't impact the rules around who's required to pay tax on investment property though.
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Let's talk about Health and Safety
A 'she'll be right' attitude towards health and safety won't cut it – it should be about discussion and involvement. You've got to make a conscious decision to be safe, and get everyone in your team thinking about health and safety every step of the way. Here are a few ways to do this effectively:
Get real. Sit down as a team (including family) and answer these three questions and then pin them where everyone can see them.
- "Why do we want a safe and healthy farm?"
- "What will we do to be a safe and healthy farm?"
- "How will we make sure everyone who comes to our farm is safe and healthy?"
Prioritise it. When you meet with your team, put health and safety at the top of the agenda. Even just spend five minutes discussing any incidents, injuries or near misses, and see if anyone has any suggestions about new or upcoming seasonal risks, or new ways of doing things.
Keep it simple. When you're planning the day's or season's work, take a moment to ask "What do we have to look out for?" It doesn't need to be a formal briefing, just a conscious moment to think about any risks or maintenance issues.
Paperwork isn't enough. Reducing health and safety mishaps isn't about documents and manuals - it's about thinking and talking about risks and doing what needs to be done to stay healthy and safe.
Be vigilant. Make sure everyone on the farm knows how the risks can change with the time of day, the season, or a person's emotional or physical state.
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Struggling to recruit ambitious workers? Find out how two new apprenticeships, developed by Primary ITO and Federated Farmers, could help you tackle your skill shortage.
A Q&A with Mike Stephens, General Manager, Primary ITO:
How does the Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy work? We match apprentices to relevant farms where they can 'earn while they learn', develop their skills on-job and grow their careers. Employers enjoy motivated staff, and learn and grow throughout the apprenticeship too.
How does an employer get involved? Farms wanting to take on an apprentice in the programme sign up to a farm charter to ensure they provide the best work environment, on-job training and career development for their apprentice. Since it launched two years ago, nearly 180 farms have signed the charter. This means the farming community is willing to invest to bring people on and put them on a premium pathway to farm management and even ownership.
How many apprentices are signed up? There are now nearly 100 apprentices in the programme throughout New Zealand. This number is building and we're working first on identifying people whose interests match the sector, like working outdoors and with animals, then helping match them with the best dairy farmers.
What are the main benefits to employers? Employers are matched with employees who have a long-term commitment to the industry. Employers recognise that by leading the training of an apprentice it adds value to their farm with motivated staff and will support them in a career with a recognised learning pathway to farm management.
How is the Horticulture Apprenticeship scheme going? It has generated a lot of interest and there are apprentices across many types of horticulture. About 50 people have started one of the horticulture production apprenticeships launched last year with our industry partners.
Why should an employer sign up? Employers get improved access to skilled workers committed to their industry. With a shortage of both skills and people, attracting the smart, innovative people the sector needs is of critical importance. Primary ITO is working alongside industry to recruit motivated and career-oriented people to the sector and this helps with retention, productivity, succession planning and more.
Why is it so important to have initiatives like these? All of the employers we work with give us the clear message that they need skilled workers and that they will invest in training them. Across all our industries, we know that the future will be driven by value and innovation – not volume – and these apprenticeships help grow the future industry leaders to make this happen.
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