Recent times have mandated the primary business strategy of survival – of remaining viable in the middle of challenging circumstances. Most business planning and revamping have centered around immediate needs and day to day operations. As you face the first quarter of a new calendar year, strategic planning for future looms ahead as well. Trying to predict what the future will bring is difficult to plan for. What you can assess and work toward are the acknowledgement of the challenges ahead and the resources you must have to meet them.

To begin, take stock of your human resources and workforce. How many employees, family members, partners and volunteers will your business require and how will you strategically utilize this help? If you anticipate reassigning your help, you will need to plan for job training and more management time. If current situations cause you to furlough help, circumstances may alter many aspects of operations from production to sales. Anticipating the need to cover more jobs with less help requires forward thinking strategic planning before another season starts.

Review operational changes and what they mean to your business planning. Are there steps you have had to alter, forego, eliminate or add to your venture? Do you anticipate these changes to remain in the future? If so, what resources will you require to keep your business viable and competitive in the days to come? Consider your many production, harvesting, sales and transportation needs in terms of labor, goods, services and management.

Claim what is unique about your business and develop strategies based on those strengths. Do you have a solid wholesale chain already built and operating successfully, or are your farm gate retail sales where you want to channel your energies? Blending needs with resources and planning can offer the best path to reasonable growth. Could your strengths lead to spin-off ventures or value-added ventures such as milk to cheese or produce to products? Now is the time to be strategizing for options where your resources match possible avenues of opportunity.

Consider potential cooperative ventures and operational sharing with other owners and managers. Are there possibilities for sharing equipment, transportation, labor and other resources with producers or partners? Especially during challenging times, pooling resources can be a viable strategy for several businesses. You may consider custom harvesting, packaging and other options too. Purchasing some services may make more sense compared to the cost of maintenance and operation.

Strategic planning is an evaluation process that leads to developing business goals and objectives. Even during challenging times, taking stock of your resources and strengths is important to future endeavors. You need to know how to operate your business backed by a foundation of what you can achieve with the resources you have available. We may not know what the future will bring but being prepared with good insight into our own capabilities at least gives us some sense of control.

The above information is provided for educational purposes and should not be substituted for professional legal or business counseling.