At the start of this month I was privileged to be given the opportunity to speak at the Orchard Profitability Forum held in the Goulburn Valley in Victoria. This was an initiative of Fruit Growers Victoria and Agriculture Victoria through the Community Group Drought Funding program. The impact of drought and dry season conditions on the horticulture industry can often be overlooked, with the media focusing on animals in distress and the lack of feed available. But while some farmers have the option to sell off livestock, orchardist don't have this ability.... and there is no switch at the base of the tree to just shut it down for a season or two while condition improve.
Horticulture is an industry that I have developed a passion for having spent a number of years working in hands on roles. Through this experience I gained extensive knowledge which included a greater understanding the best practices in financial management required to meet the specific needs of the industry.
Drought and dry season can impact on so many people and businesses, and it was great to be able to provide some insight to local growers on how to implement strategies to hopefully lesson the financial impact that a drought of dry season could have on them in the future.
Below are some of the key takeaways that we discussed with the group which I hope you may find useful also.
Business Planning is Important
Take the time to think about where you currently are, where you want to get to and the journey you will need to take to get there.
Know your Cashflow Cycles
Cash is the lifeblood of your business. Understand not just what a normal season means for you but the impacts that a dry season could have.
What gets Measured gets Managed
While the pressures of a dry season can have you searching for cost savings, this needs to be a continual process within your business.
Understand how each Season Performed
There is an opportunity to learn from your past performance but the key is to respond accordingly - that block will not miraculously improve!
Establish an Advisory Board
Working ON your business and not just IN your business is crucial to being able to implement strategies to get you through a dry season.
Every industry is unique and this is no different for horticulture. I actually think that from a financial perspective horticulture is out in left field in terms of the complexity around gaining the visibility required to be able to make the informed decisions needed in the business. With advances in technology we are seeing this improve but partnering with someone that understands the challenges you face can be invaluable.
If these are areas you are struggling with in your business we are here to help. As I told everyone in the forum - I can never say no to a coffee and a chat!