Lack of a shared vision may be one of the most significant threats to sustaining a family business through multiple generations. Roughly 83% of family farms do not make it to the third generation. Developing your own family’s vision will greatly increase the odds in your favor.

Griffith liz
Business Development / Encore Consultants

Transition Planning

Values & Vision ›› Strategy ›› Assets ›› Governance

Your family farm is not the same as it was when you started it. It has evolved over time due to financials, demand, land availability, technology and hard work. You have and will continue to feed the world in a highly competitive environment. When farming was financially sustainable, many farms wanted to continue farming the way they were. Why modify if your business was making money? Today, that image is different, and farmers are always looking for alternative ways of creating success for themselves and their families.

What does success look like to you? What is your plan, your vision? Typically, we get stuck because we are busy with the day-to-day tasks of running our farms. We lose focus on the big picture, the vision.

Without a solid vision as a guide, daily struggles, problems and conflicts arise, taking you off track from your farm and your farm transition. Without a vision, minor problems become major challenges that are often overwhelming. We tend to observe an absence of clearly articulated values and unclear visions.

The remaining 17% of family farms do make it into the third generation. Developing your family farm’s vision is time well spent. The most important reason many successful farms go through the visioning process is to explore and define the commitment to the business across generations. When there is a shared commitment to the longevity of the farm, great things happen. A good family farm vision has several attributes:

  • Tied to the core values of the family and the farm
  • Provides a guide for family decisions
  • Describes how family members contribute to the success of the business
  • Requires a process of learning and working together
  • Builds family commitment to each other and the business
  • Strengthens and renews family values, rituals and traditions

Getting started is often difficult, so below are four questions to ask each family member in the business:

  1. What family values do you hold that support our continued ownership in the business?
  2. What is the business potential to create value for the family members, owners and employees?
  3. What do family owners expect from the business?
  4. How does the family working in the business add value?

A well-organized vision planning process defines and solidifies the commitment of each family member to each other and the business around common goals. It is often tempting to assume your children have the same vision and goals for the business as you. It is also tempting for the next generation to assume their parents have it all figured out. This can lead to conflict, and conflict is often the main reason farm transition planning stalls or takes a different direction.

Your vision helps provide for your family while continuing a legacy to feed the world. Tying your core values to a solid vision increases your chances of success.