Thursday, July 19, 2018

Staying Put (Well, Not Exactly)

"Cat on Deck!"

When Staycation was first coined in the United States during the financial crisis, many didn’t realize this choice of holiday would gain popularity. People simply stayed home rather than travelled because of necessity.  The reality, even today, is vacations can be quite costly depending on our choice of travel, accommodations, and entertainment venues.  When we have so many items on our wish list, occasionally we may have to forego an elaborate holiday.  The cost of a family wedding, a kitchen renovation, or a new vehicle suddenly hampers any getaway plans for one season. The money-on-hand may be a little sparse to entertain an expensive getaway but it may be sufficient for a staycation.

The words “stay” and “vacation” were creatively blended into “staycation”.   By simply staying home and planning unique activities, we can ideally create everlasting memories.  The trick to having a memorable staycation is to create new experiences or take part in fun activities we often can’t fit into our busy schedules. After all, the real importance of a vacation is to relax, create memories, and spend time with family and friends.

The important consideration for a successful staycation is to plan daily activities.  Our imaginations help to design the perfect holiday at home.  With a little assistance from the Internet, endless ideas pop up. Simply click here to discover 30 Ideas for Summer Fun, Staycation Style.  This fantastic article tells us How to Kick Back, Relax and Vacation at Home.

The downside to a “staycation” is feeling the need to catch-up on projects and work activities.  We can easily fall into the trap of working our way through our vacation because we have the extra time. Caution should be exercised so we don’t exchange a sense of accomplishment for physical exhaustion.  All work and no play is not fun. While a staycation can be easier on our budget, we need to be fair to ourselves and our family. 

Staycation spells F-R-E-E-D-O-M.  There are no deadlines or delays because everything happens on our timetables. We control everything from when we choose to do something to what we choose to do.  This kind of holiday provides freedom from jet lag, packing, long drives, or waits at airports.  

Kick back and relax as you plan your next unforgettable staycation which is…

          F - Fun-filled
          R - Relaxing
          E - Experimental
          E - Enjoyable
          D - Daring
          O - Outstanding 
          M - Memorable

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Preserve the Knowledge of Others

The CAFA (Canadian Association of Farm Advisors) Parkland Chapter ended their membership year in late June on a high note. The meeting’s theme was “Why Advisors are Valuable to Farm Families. Our presenters, ranchers and farmers, shared their first-hand experiences working with advisors on their businesses. 

Robert and Karen Ivey, partners in Evergreen Cattle Company, and Terry Aberhart, CEO of Aberhart Farms and Sure Growth Technologies and Managing Partner with Aberhart Ag Solutions, graciously shared their knowledge, experience, and wisdom.  Their insights are worth capturing and preserving in writing so that others may learn from their journeys. Here are a few take-aways from their presentations.

1. Have a keen interest and passion – important ingredients to drive success.  This sound advice may have been reiterated previously by different people as they pursed their careers.  Today, our presenters confirmed this again.  If your heart is not in the work you do – whatever it may be – then no matter how hard you try, you will not drive yourself to do better than average.  Your passion causes you to lie awake at night, dream about your work, and devise strategies. Living and breathing what you know and love becomes part of your DNA.  The fuel -- your interest, passion, and dedication to your work -- are the driving forces of your mission and vision statements. This takes us to the next point.  

Robert and Karen Ivey
Evergreen Cattle Company
2. Create and review your mission and vision statements for your business.   A person does not realize the value of words. A well-designed and crafted mission and vision statement motivates people to succeed especially through setbacks.  Failures, obstacles, and challenges will happen.  Our determination to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel helps us to persevere through the tough times.  Robert and Karen designed their mission statement four decades ago when they first began farming.  This important step should not be overlooked.  The vision statement tells you where you want to be (and what you represent) and the mission statement tells you how you’ll get there.  

Terry Aberhart
Aberhart Farms / Sure Growth Technologies
Aberhart Ag Solutions

3. Embrace change.  Change occurs with or without your permission.  New ways of doing things -- technology, processes in a business operation,legislation (legal and tax rules) – affect a business.  You cannot control everything so you need to focus on the things you can control.  “Have the right mindset and work with future-minded people,” was Terry’s advice.

4. Anticipate the storms, the financial setbacks. You may need to rely on a different strategy.  In the farming industry, severe weather conditions and disease infestations can hamper the bottom line.  Regroup. Strategize. Persevere. Rely on your mission and vision statements.

5. Know your financial situation. If you are not a number person then linking up with an advisor who can help establish your yearly budgets and analyze the financial data is vital. The Management Trinity has been previously discussed. Generally, people are good at two of the three essentials necessary to carry on a business. These three are finances, marketing, and the hands-on work. Business plans with realistic financial projections are road maps.  Robert and Karen had created their business plan with financial projections and asked their banker, “Do you want to come into business with us?”  They proved to their business advisors their capability for achieving their business goals with a concrete plan.    

6. Engage with other advisors.  Advisors help you think and plan realistically.  Terry said it best, “You may be blinded by what sounds like a good idea until someone shoots holes in your boat for good reason.” Advisors fill in the gaps with their knowledge and expertise then advise accordingly.

7.  Find a way which works for you.  “Canned programs” with a step-by-step process do not work for every business family.  Two examples are whether to implement an estate freeze or purchase land inside a corporation.   The strategy has to be right for you.

8.  Keep your business and family affairs separate.  Treat your business as “business first” which results in doing what is in the best interest for the business. The Three-Circle Model illustrates that the family business has three unique groups within its structure: the owners (or shareholders), the family, and the business.  

To operate a farm or ranch successfully, like any business, you must have a great understanding of all the elements.  Our presenters shared the core foundation for any successful business remains unchanged in order to strive, thrive, and survive. 

Reflecting on the years when our ancestors first came to Canada, you can see how agriculture has evolved over the years. Breaking new land was first done with horses and plows. Roots were handpicked.  Labour was intense and backbreaking. Today caterpillars and heavy discs relieve the strenuous labour.  Yet others stressors, which are uncontrollable, remain constant. Weather is one factor.

The benefit of learning from others is hearing about their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Naturally, a person thinks others have it so good until we hear how bad they had it. But their ability to turn their situation into good is reassuring and encouraging.  Advisors and mentors help us find the way.