Agricultural banker’s 10 business pointers

HSBC’s head of agriculture Allan Wilkinson called for UK farmers to be more proactive and entrepreneurial while speaking at the LEAF President’s Event in London this week. He was impressed by farm developments he saw recently in China and Brazil, and had 10 key thoughts on what needs to change in UK agriculture.

  1. Few farms operate at their true optimum – the industry should be further developed by now.
  2. The difference between the best farms and the worst used to be large – it is now enormous.
  3. Big isn’t always beautiful. Farmers must consider whether expansion increases or decreases their profit and cashflow. Too many have cloudy strategies.
  4. The biggest variable in a business is you. How much professional development do you do to make sure you are better than you were yesterday?
  5. The customer and consumer are king. Farmers must get closer to both.
  6. Charles Darwin was right about dinosaurs – be adaptable and flexible or be extinct.
  7. Know who your competitor is, what they do and why.
  8. Benchmarking and budgeting are vital yet so many businesses don’t do it. It’s called survival of the fittest.
  9. Collaborate with your neighbour. At the moment, collaboration is a rude word for many farmers.
  10. Volatility is here to stay – so build a business that can cope with it.

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