Business planning, evaluation

Having worked for large companies for many years, I always dread the time of year when I have to evaluate how well I have completed my previous year's business goals and then set new higher goals for next year.

With Vance Publishing, we go through several steps over two months as supervisors and senior management have to approve the business goals. Editors have to show how they are contributing to brand image, quality of communications tools, advancement of direct report employees, creativeness and the bottom line ? among other points.

Even though I don't appreciate going through the employee evaluation process, it is something that a company big or small needs to do so that employees can air their concerns in writing ? better than day-to-day discussions about what just went wrong or right. It establishes common goals for the company and employee, and it provides a basis for determining if progress is being made in all areas of responsibility.

Self-evaluation and manager evaluation of employees is just another aspect associated with a full business plan. That business plan is a necessity as pointed out by our marketing columnists Mark Faust and John Heeney.

If you check out www.AgProfessional.com, you know that we provide a Focus on Business weekly column written by authors, business consultants, trainers or other business analysts. These columns are written about business situations other than agriculture, but the concept is that business is business, and agricultural industry management can learn from those outside of agriculture.

If you read our mission statement at the bottom of the table of contents on page 3, you'll see that AgProfessional has a goal of providing agronomic and business management solutions to a wide ranging audience in the agricultural industry that serves farmers and landowners.

Just as I'm evaluated by management of Vance Publishing, I also expect to be evaluated by the readers of AgProfessional. Feedback is always welcome.

We are in the process of trying to be a leader in technology so that those of you who prefer to get your information other than by reading the magazine will have the opportunity. Maybe you have suggestions on what would make it easier for you. Could we be providing something different in our two weekly e-mailed newsletters? Would you appreciate any kind of messaging to your cell phone?
At AgProfessional, we think that partnerships with other companies is necessary to provide new opportunities, just as many of you are developing new partnerships to have a strategy for meeting your current and future customers' needs.

Service to customers can be a challenge. For you, it can be because of wet weather, what didn't get done last fall or indecision until the last minute by some farmers and landowners on what they'll plant. These all influence a business plan.

I cannot say when is the time of year to finalize your business plan for 2010. As for the chemical manufacturers and fertilizer suppliers, they are in the final stages of completing their marketing and communications plans. Those companies have been asking Rick Patton, publisher, and Jack Tower, account executive, to come up with new ideas, creative thinking in helping them put their message in front of our ag retailer, crop consultant and farm manager audiences.

In my way of thinking, being creative in business is important and definitely not easy and not something I like to be evaluated on even after 30 years in the business.