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Pita Alexander is the best known and most respected farm business accountant/consultant in New Zealand. He is also something of a homespun philosopher. After reading several of his articles and the texts of several of his presentations, I contacted him to ask permission to reprint selected quotes. He graciously agreed.
Two things struck me as I read the material. The first was that I endorsed nearly everything he said and, second, it was interesting just how similar management problems and best practices are wherever you live around the world.
In this and my next article I have selected 46 out of several hundred of my favorite quotes. I hope you'll enjoy them and find them as insightful as I did.
1. One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know.
2. It is natural to dwell on things that have gone wrong. The key, though, is to focus on remedies and solutions. The top quartile are obstacle removers. Remove obstacles, don't just keep walking around them indefinitely.
3. Let's not beat about the bush. The whole point of being in business is to be profitable. The whole point of being profitable is because it gives you choices. Some people, though, want to have their choices before they are profitable, but that is invariably trouble. Get the sequence right -- profits, then choices. I am on a constant learning curve from contact with the top quartile in the practice and always put on my listening and learning overalls with these couples and suggest you do the same.
4. Generally, one mistake will never kill you -- it is the same mistake over and over again that kills you. Many in the bottom quartile do exactly this.
5. Most industries -- and farming is no exception -- need people who can think, plan and act in that order. The sum of these three together is infinitely more valuable than the sum of their individual parts. Make sure you are in this camp.
6. As employers we all tend to underpay our top performers and overpay our under-performers. This is very unfair -- make sure it is not happening in your business.
7. In any new on-farm or off-farm venture, develop an exit strategy. Those in the bottom business groups don't have a Plan B and they don't have a Plan A either. What they have is a Plan W -- that is they are going to "wait" to see what happens or more likely they will wonder that happened.
8. In any industry it is a good sign when you want to be a preferred employer -- each of us need to build our reputation as an outstanding employer.
9. Spend your time before you spend your money -- get the sequence the right way around.
10. Do you know where you want to be in 3-, 5-, 7-years' time? Don't tell me you don't have time to think about issues like this because if that is your answer, you don't deserve to be running the business. Develop a plan and a strategy -- get top advice, fine-tune the plan, celebrate the results, pause only briefly, regroup and set new goals. Is this easy? No. Is it straightforward? No. Does it always work? No. Have we found a better way? No.
11. We need to ask the question, what is this business for?
--What are we aiming at?
--What is the point of doing this?
--Who are we doing it for?
--What and where is the market?
--Who is the customer?