Planning for Success: Why business planning is crucial to the sustainability of your farm or orchard


The long-term sustainability of your agribusiness requires investing quality time into business planning. A well-defined plan ensures day-to-day business operations are complementing longer-term strategy and vision. In this article Central Plateau-based Duncan Matthews, BNZ’s Client Director Corporate Agribusiness, shares key business planning advice for farmers and growers.

Connecting with people is one of the highlights of my role at BNZ. The best place to connect with an agribusiness customer and to really understand their business is sitting beside them in a ute or at their kitchen table. I feel fortunate to be part of conversations that enable New Zealand agribusinesses to thrive and succeed at realising their visions and goals. Good business planning is at the heart of that success.

It’s vital to put time into both a business strategy and a sound operational plan

Strategic planning involves looking at a defined time horizon and developing a strategy to fulfil your vision and goals. Where do you, your family, and your shareholders see the business going over a 1-year, 5-year, or even a 25-year period? Strategic planning helps bring your vision to life, and supports you to make the right decisions so you can achieve this vision in the most optimal and sustainable way.

Creating an operational plan to complement your strategy is also a vital part of business planning. Operational plans are often structured over shorter time frames than strategic plans and set out tangible steps and targets such as, cashflow budgets, staff development, and animal performance, which contribute to attaining your long-term ambitions.

The importance of structure and accountability in your agribusiness planning

It can be challenging trying to find time for planning when you’re working ‘hands-on’ in your agribusiness, while also performing the role of an owner. Owners are often involved in both the governance and management of their business – in simple terms, doing everything and wearing many hats. However, it’s crucial for the long-term sustainability of your business to find a balanced way of allocating time to plan, which means incorporating a degree of formality, structure, and discipline in your approach. I recommend that you and your business stakeholders have quarterly – or at minimum, annual – business review meetings locked in your diary that everyone commits to participating in.

Your stakeholders may include family, shareholders, your accountant, farm advisor, solicitor, business mentor, succession planner, environmental specialist, fertiliser rep, and your agribusiness banking team. Whilst there is both time and money involved in engaging professional advice, the investment needs to be viewed in terms of the value it can bring to the business.

Setting yourself, and your business up for long-term success

Business planning, when coupled with execution, review, and adjustment, will give you the greatest chance of success. BNZ’s agribusiness team are here to understand and contribute towards that process.

Whilst we have significant focus on the financials of your business, it is equally important for us to have a clear understanding of your visions, goals, and strategic direction across the production, environmental, people, and financial aspects. This enables us to support you in a relevant, timely and sustainable manner.

Any views expressed in this article are the personal views of Duncan Matthews and do not necessarily represent the views of BNZ, or its related entities. This article is solely for information purposes and is not intended to be financial advice. If you need help, please contact BNZ or your financial adviser. Neither BNZ nor any person involved in this article accepts any liability for any direct or indirect loss or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance on, all or any part of the content.