Getting a dedicated farm manager is the biggest dilemma of telephone farming.
Telephone farming is a term used to refer to business people who work and live in town, but they run and manage small or medium-sized investments in the rural areas on a part-time basis mostly in the agriculture sector.
Nowadays, the desire to have more than one line of income has put many employees under pressure to invest in small businesses in order to get an extra coin away from the salary. Like I mentioned in an earlier article, I have come across people who have accumulated a substantial amount of money in savings and they are ready to put that amount into a viable investment, preferably in agribusiness.
Most of them are still employed and are faced with the dilemma of whether to resign and commit to full-time management of their start-ups, or remain in employment and delegate the start-up to a farm manager. It is at this point most agribusiness start-ups are made or broken. Why?
If you have the expertise to run and manage a farm business and you have full confidence in your start-up,then I recommend that you dive full-time into your start-up. On the contrary, if you do not have the expertise, there is no point in resigning.
Not resigning implies that you get a competent person to run your farm in the interest of the owner (you). And this in my view, is the biggest challenge in farm business management especially for small and medium-scale farms that do not generate enough revenue to adequately compensate a competent manager.
It's expensive to motivate a farm manager
In Kenya for instance, rural jobs are highly underpaying, therefore employees are not fully committed to working on the farm with a long-term vision. They are ready to quit anytime they get a better salary anywhere else.
So, if you decide to begin farming with an employee as your farm manager and you remain in your employed job, please consider making a serious investment in the well-being of your employee to ensure you get the best from him.
Consider it as an opportunity cost: If you had resigned from your job, you wouldn’t be earning the salary you are earning today. So, use that salary to pay the person who saved you from resigning. Pay him well.
As an employer, you should always ask yourself what you need to do so that your employee can trust you and your business more. It is not always about how you can trust your employee, but rather how the employee can trust you and the sustainability of your business. Being bossy is detrimental. If you get it right on the person who manages your farm, then you are 75% there.
It is expensive to employ a competent farm manager and to keep them motivated. You want a manager who is creative, innovative, and always on high alert to seize opportunities for your business to grow. It is only with a manager like this that you can become a successful telephone farmer.
This explains why many founders manage their own start-ups at the beginning. They can underpay themselves and still be motivated.
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