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Source: Zoetis news release

Owners and managers often get so caught up working in the business that they don't take time to work on the business.

As you make plans to spend more time on your operation or business in 2014, complete this sentence: "In 2019, I will be successful when ________." And then ask yourself this: "In 2014, what am I going to do to make that happen?"

Addressing this important question can help bring stability to your agriculture business, cattle operation, equine facility or veterinary clinic. Rather than creating resolutions, think of it as strategic planning.

As the first step in a formal business plan, strategic planning helps businesses increase profitability and reduce risk caused by market factors.

In fact, organizations that use strategic planning are proven to be more successful and last longer. A recent study points out that 67% of businesses that failed did not have a written strategic plan.2

A good strategic plan will look out three to five years and describe clearly how the business will flourish. Planning takes resources and time, but there are many reasons it can help improve the business.

Sets direction and priorities: Planning defines top goals and priorities and establishes a process to reach them.
Helps gain alignment: Everyone in the organization needs to work toward common goals and understand the value of his or her role in accomplishing these.
Improves efficiency: Planning helps make good use of resources and time.
Identifies a competitive advantage: The company needs to be in a better position in the marketplace.
Spurs creativity: The planning process can bring new and innovative ideas to the table.

Once a plan is developed and written, the key to success is implementation and follow-through. Make certain that strategies are communicated across the organization so everyone has a responsibility for achieving these items.

A facilitator or consultant also can help ensure your team is following the right strategies and meeting these objectives on schedule.

The agriculture industry is filled with change, volatility, uncertainty and opportunity. Surviving uncertainties requires following a plan.

Whether it's building new facilities or getting better training for supervisors or employees, spend time this year not only creating a plan but following it to ensure the long-term success of your business.

Visit for more ways to develop your operation or business, leadership and employees.

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