So, why do people own and operate agribusinesses? What motivates them? Why do you want to work in agribusiness?
We will start unpacking why people choose to work in agribusiness. We will explore the linkages between ‘why’ we are in agribusiness and how that translates to the purpose and goals of the business.
In our week 1 MyLO module, I emphasised the importance of ‘why’ – when I showed you our ‘why, who, what, where, how’ target. Why are we interested in a career in agribusiness? Why are others motivated to own and manage agribusinesses? Is it for the long, hard hours and the many disappointments along the way when things go wrong sometimes? Probably not! Is it for the money? Probably not, because most of the time you’re profits are poured straight back into the business. Is it for the lifestyle? Possibly – although it can be a hard life at times too. Is it because you can be self-directed and autonomous? Possibly, although sometimes the weather, the markets and pests and diseases can make you feel like you have no control. Is it because you have a connection to a place? Quite probably. Is it because you love it and you’re interested in extending yourself? Definitely!
But what’s your passion and why do you want to be in agribusiness? I’m hoping that by seeing how others have come to survive and thrive in their agribusiness world, that I can inspire you to think about your ‘why’.
The following videos will help you to see how the passions and values of the business owner/manager translate into how their agribusiness is run; what it produces and how it produces it. In other words, the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of the agribusiness, is underpinned by the ‘why’.
Business goals and purpose is just a long-winded way of saying ‘why’. Once we understand the ‘why’, then we can articulate the goals and purpose of an agribusiness, even our own.
The following video is a story of an old, established Tasmanian farming family down south, called the Dunbabin’s. Their farm Bangor has been in the same family since it was surveyed. This is a story about diversity, intensification and survival in changing economic, social and climatic conditions. It takes on some of the themes of ourearlier discussion about the operating environment for agribusinesses (how ‘place’ influences the agribusiness) but adds that sense of ‘why’ – why has this family persisted for so many generations? What drives them now?
Dunbabin’s (Bangor) farm story on ABC Landline – diversification, intensification, family history | 17 mins:
The second video is an international example. This is the story of Polyface Farms in Virginia, USA. Joel Salatin, who’s described – by others and himself – as ‘the lunatic farmer’, has such strong values about sustainability of land and communities that he’s innovated and driven some of the most radical and successful ‘restorative agriculture’ systems of the modern era. His ‘why’ is very strong, and after watching this and the Dunbabin’s story, I’d like you to write some notes about what you think each family’s ‘whys’ are.
Polyface Farm | Joel Salatin | 9:50 mins
The final video is a TED talk by Simon Sinek on the importance of ‘why’. This is a really clear talk that explains why some businesses (and indeed some people) thrive and others do not, principally because they have clarity about their ‘why’.
The ‘why’ of any business is the key to understanding motivations, goals and intents. It is only from these things that we can make decisions about how we design our businesses; decide its scope and scale, where it fits within the value chain and what targets we want to set in terms of the business’s outcomes. So I can’t stress enough how important that you understand your ‘why’, but also later in the term, that you start to understand the ‘why’ of the people running the agribusinesses you’ll be visiting and studying. By practicing this skill – of trying to see people’s ‘why’ – you will get better at understanding the basis of people’s decisions and also get to understand your own motives and the bases of your decisions.
Simon Sinek | How great leaders inspire action | 17.5 mins
Reflect back on these last 3 videos and jot down your responses to te following questions: - What are the commonalities between the Salatin’s ‘Polyface Farm’ and the Dunbabins ‘Bangor’ businesses? What are their business purposes? What are their goals? Is their ‘why’ clear? What is it? How do business purposes and goals change over time?
Later in this unit, we will be discussing ‘Agribusiness Planning’ in more detail, using some industry tools as examples. For this fortnight though, we are just asking that you start thinking about how critical it is to define an agribusiness's business purpose and goals, because that forms the foundation for everything else.