And 2024 is upon us! Happy New Year (ok I am about a month late)! We have just finished the long summer school holidays last week so finally catching up on work!! And social media is definitely not my strong point! We have lots of exciting things planned this year! Mat and I always start each New Year with 10 Things we each want to achieve or focus on for the year. It’s a combination of personal goals and work ones. We are involved in multiple businesses on and off farm or as I like to call them “projects” so it keeps us on our toes but also makes life interesting.
This year we have some good personal goals including a big focus on our own health – when you run your own businesses and have little kids it is easy to put yourself last but that’s not good for the long run! Spending more quality one on one time with each child is also up there. We also love travelling and each year we try to do a new country – if you can do it, then I think it’s one of the best things you can do for personal growth, expanding your mind and awareness and to be a global citizen, which we think is important even for the kids. We even encourage our whole farm team to do this – at the moment I am trying to convince one of our younger guys to get overseas and explore the world!! I have even thought about funding trips away for our team rather than giving bonuses to force them to see the world…… hmmm wonder how that will go down! Will let you know! Just yesterday during our Feb Big Picture Brunch session we did have a good debate about our goal to one day take the whole team and families to Fiji or somewhere for our annual strategy day! We had a good laugh at how now with Halter we could all be in Fiji on the beach and manage the farm from our phone! Just imagine that….. that would be a funny sight….. will keep you posted on that one too!
On a business front we have lots of great things in store for 2024 both on and off farm. Our current farm strategy was for the period 2017-2023 and so we are working on our Grassmere Dairy 2030 strategy to help guide us and our team for the next few years. Our last few years have been focused on learning farming, succession, creating a solid business by becoming a lean business (we still have a long way to go!!) and setting up good processes and systems to ensure we are resilient and sustainable and finally evolving our team culture. We also have explored new technologies.
The next period will be focused on more continuous improvement and striving for perfection. But importantly we want to grow our business, improve profitability and also a big one is diversification which all of our team are excited about. We have worked hard over the last couple of years to surround ourselves with fabulous partners (our bank, advisors, accountants, consultants, suppliers etc). This has meant some change from long term relationships, which can be difficult. But it’s important to remember that your business won’t change unless you change how you do things and sometimes you need to question if your current business relationships are still relevant or if you need some fresh input.
We have some exciting opportunities that we are working on including in the agri-tourism / regenerative tourism space. This has been an idea that our team have been keen on for several years and we are finally pursuing this with various locations on farm available for events, conferences, accommodation and also farm tourism activities. We call this our fun project – watch this space!
We also acknowledge that our world is changing and consumer expectations are changing. We need to ensure that our business can grow, can be profitable in varying economic conditions and be able to overcome challenging conditions. Our farming business was established in 1890 and since then has adapted to many changes and grown in different ways – from draught horse breeding, to sheep, beef and cropping, and to dairy. We want it to continue to go from strength to strength and be thriving in another 100 years. This however means we need to create not only a resilient business, but also one that is exciting and future generations want to be a part of. Taking all this into account, diversification is important to create the resilience and growth we want and that is what we are exploring as part of our new strategy.
So what drives us…. ? It is really important to occasionally stop and reflect on why you are doing what you are doing. Do you really enjoy it? Is it giving you the life you want? When you are on your deathbed and you look back on your life will you have any regrets? I think these are really important questions. Mat and I often talk about how we want to live, what our ideal life is (and it isn’t working 7 days a week, 15 hour days by the way!). We have worked hard to achieve various goals so that we can have the life we want to lead. And it is possible if you know what you want and chip away at it.
We also recognise that while we have lots of goals and lots of exciting projects, sometimes both Mat and I are so eager to tick things off that we forget to enjoy the ride. So this year a big focus is to actually slow down, live in the moment, enjoy the journey and enjoy life.
Cheers to another amazing year, working in an amazing sector, producing amazing food for the world to enjoy!