If you have been to our annual Ag Conference over the past several years, or have heard Dr. Dave Kohl speak, you may have heard talk about assembling your professional team. By “professional team”, we are referring to a team of people that are experts in certain fields that can help you with your farm operation or commercial business. How do they help? There are many things that this team can help you with. One of the big things, among others, is developing strategies for transition to the next generation. Something like that is a big step! Several of us at the bank, myself included, are a part of such a team and have attended meetings accordingly. We have seen firsthand that relying on this type of team can be extremely powerful for your business, no matter what your goals might be.
What might this look like?
First, you need to identify your team. This may include your accountant, attorney, bank officer, and any other professional along these lines that you rely on to help with your business. In the case of a farmer, this may also involve your grain/livestock marketing consultant if you work with someone like that. Whether your business is farming, providing a service, or building/manufacturing products, you already likely have a team of people that help you efficiently grow crops, provide your service, or manufacture whatever it is you manufacture and sell. You, the business owner, are an expert in your field, whether that be growing crops, growing livestock, providing a service, or providing a product. While you may have a solid understanding of other aspects that affect your business, it makes sense to utilize the expertise of other professionals as mentioned. Find those professionals that you trust and have your best interests at heart.
You have identified your professional team. How do you put them to work?
The next step is to assemble your professional team. This may take the form of talking to each member and saying you’d like to schedule a meeting. You also will want to inform them of whomever else may be involved in the meeting and the reason for the meeting. Also remember that depending on what your goal(s) might be, you may likely need more than one meeting. You may also choose to either moderate the meeting yourself, have one of your trusted team members moderate, or ask another trusted person to moderate the meeting. The main point of a moderator is to keep the meeting on task, record notes, and/or ensure follow-up post meeting.
Time for the meeting.
Once you have set a meeting, decided who the moderator might be, and are now ready to prepare, there are a few things to consider ensuring the meeting is effective and stays on task. In no particular order, having the following items ready prior to a meeting(s) is crucial.
As you can see, several people are needed because there are different points of view. There is the financial point of view (where your bank officer comes in), as well as the points of view of tax impacts, legal impacts, and the list goes on. Sometimes what could be considered a pro in one area could create a con in another, and vice versa. That is why it is crucial to have all members at the table—so those pros and cons can be navigated to arrive at the optimal path for whatever it is you are trying to accomplish for your business.
Assembling a professional team has created the most benefit in situations of bringing the next generation into a business and/or the previous generation exiting the business. Basically, in whatever way, you are ensuring such a change is handled in a way that benefits all owners, both new and former. It is seldom a “just do this or that” scenario and letting things coast from there. Rather, it is a journey in which you may have to address changes or negotiate turns, hills, and valleys along the way. There can be many pitfalls. However, many, if not all, pitfalls can be avoided or at least mitigated when you employ a strategy such as this in a methodical, disciplined, and deliberate way.