No doubt you are ready for planting season. You’ve had checkups done on your planter and other equipment. In addition to the regular equipment maintenance you do, these pre-season checkups are key to a planting season free from breakdowns or other equipment issues.

Taking the time to have things checked over when you’re not yet in the field prepares you for a successful season. The checkup brings confidence and peace of mind going into the growing season, knowing everything’s been reviewed. Problems that could have made big trouble when you’re running full steam have already been addressed.

Another smart checkup is to have a business review or assessment done for your operation. The adviser doing the assessment reviews the key areas of your farm business, analyzing your operation’s strengths and identifying areas of opportunity. They look at the main areas that are critical to farm business success.

Then you can talk through the key areas with them, looking at aspects where your operation is already doing very well, as well as areas where there are gaps or chances to improve. You might work to get a plan in place to address some of the most important factors and set measurements for how you’ll know you’re reaching success.

One farmer did a review like this, and said it opened his eyes to parts of his farm where he could do a few small things differently — and have an enormous impact on his operation.

He’s relieved that he chose to have a review of his operation done now, while he still has opportunities to make changes in how he approaches the business side of his farm. He made it a priority because he is anticipating a new cycle in ag.

Along with that, have you ever tried to go on a long road trip without some sort of map or directions, whether it’s in your cell phone, GPS or even an old paper atlas? Having clear directions is essential, especially when you’re navigating to somewhere new, through unfamiliar territory.

I think that trying to get somewhere without clear directions is frustrating. Without a map, you’re essentially guessing the way you should go. You have no idea if the route you are taking is the most efficient or effective one that you could be on.

You might know the general direction you need to go (southwest, for example), but there’s no planned route for how to get there. Without a map, there’s no way to track your progress or even to know if you’re still on the right path.

Many farmers are feeling like the game has changed with the new economic cycle in ag. All of a sudden, what had been working the past few years isn’t effective anymore. The old atlas they were following isn’t bringing them to the same destination of success that it had in the past.

You have a choice when you come to a realization like this. You can continue to follow the way you’d been making decisions and thinking about your farm business and hope that you still reach success. Or you can choose to be proactive and draw a new map.

We’ve been working with farmers as they get strategic plans in place for their farming operations. One of the farmers has a fast-growing operation and he wants to make it the best it can be. He’s worked to define what success will look like for his operation, and, most importantly, how they will get there.

He thinks of the strategic plan for his farm as a road map to success. His employees and other key stakeholders know where the operation is heading and their role in helping the farm get there. He’s redefined what success looks like for his farm and created a new ‘map.’

This is a smart response to what’s going on in ag today. A clearly drawn road map will be even more important as many farms find they need a different approach to what they’ve done the past few years.

Check in with your own approach and strategy for your farm. Can you, and other key players in your operation, explain what success looks like for your operation? Does everyone know how the goals will be reached, the timelines and their roles?

If you feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over or driving around in circles, maybe you just need to draw yourself a new road map to success. Get the right road map in place to take your farm where you want it to be in the future.