Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Farm business management
GROUND COVER FARM BUSINESS MANAGEMENT 18 MANAGEMENT TOOLS 'HOW CAN I HELP members of our farming family to communicate more effectively?' This question is regularly encountered by consultants and professionals who work with farming businesses. While some of us are chattier than others, generally we all talk. However, communicating is more than talking; it is also about listening and hearing, and letting others have their say. Indeed, only about 12 per cent of our communication is verbal. About 88 per cent of our message is conveyed to the receiver in non-verbal communication such as tone and volume, body gestures, facial expression and body posture. Interestingly, most people respond to what they are seeing and hearing, not to the actual words used. Effective communication is a skill to be learnt and continually practised. The new publication, A Guide to Communication for Farm Families, details all the skills and provides case studies to illustrate how -- and how not to -- communicate. The publication was released in January 2011. Many factors influence how we communicate. These include family history, an individual's personal communication style and their self-esteem. As highlighted in A Guide to Succession: Sustaining Families and Farms (2007), there are also large differences between the generations, including how they prefer to communicate (Table 1). A Guide to Communication for Farm Families follows a similar structure to the highly successful A Guide to Succession. The first part of the guide provides the insights of professionals, such as a relationship counsellor, a family therapist, a lawyer and generational consultant, on communication in relation to their experience and area of expertise. The second part of the book is dedicated to relevant communication theories. An understanding of aspects of communication, such as the previous example of verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as how to deal with conflict, all help to improve our communication skills. The third section of the book is dedicated to The six factors identified as influencing disposable farm income per family are: n production system; n farm input costs; n farm size; n debt servicing; n machinery costs and depreciation; and n non-farm income. The new tool will enable growers to calculate these figures for their business and compare them to benchmarks. However, in order to be relevant, all these benchmarks need to be based on current and regionalised data. By using the latest database and web-interface technology, the farm business profitability tool will help provide real-time information. Data used within the database will be independently verified and sources will remain confidential. Such a system will enable growers to interrogate 'what if' scenarios in real-time. For example, a grower could ask: 'If I borrow $200,000 to invest in new plant and equipment, how will this change my ability to service debt?' The tool will consist of a desktop and a web- based component, which will enable growers to play with their numbers without having to be connected to the Farm Prophet database. Discussion around financial decisions may involve accountants or other business professionals. The new financial tool will enable growers to work with professionals across the country to evaluate, in real-time, the impact of potential decisions. While the tool is still in development it is hoped that it will provide a platform for a range of financial business tools. These could help growers manage their cash flow and peak debt requirements. By using the tool it is expected that growers will be better able to quantify the financial implications of proposed management decisions. Regular use would help enhance their knowledge and understanding of the links between profit and the farm variables contributing to profit. The tool will be relevant to growers in all regions and as a web-based application it will be easy to access. It is also considered a valuable tool for farming groups to use to monitor their financial position. The tool is planned to be ready for use by mid-2012. □ GRDC Research Code FPR00001 More information: Phil O'Callaghan, Farm Prophet, 03 5441 6176, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.grdc.com.au/FPR00001 MANY FACTORS INFLUENCE HOW WE COMMUNICATE, INCLUDING FAMILY HISTORY AND THE PERSONAL COMMUNICATION STYLE OF INDIVIDUALS. Let's talk If communication was that easy we would all do it well -- a new guide can help everyone improve By Judy Wilkinson and Lyn Sykes FINANCIAL BENCHMARKS PROVIDE A POWERFUL TOOL FOR STRATEGIC DECISION-MAKING.
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