By Mike Bossy - April 19, 2018
Growing up on the farm my parents always talked to us about rules, respect, core values, hard work, fairness and a whole lot of life skills. The only thing I wished in hind sight is that they would have written all of this advice down.
Having experienced farm life from the aspect of growing up on one and dealing with farm families in my practice, a concept has been formulating in my mind. I don’t think I coined this term but it is the Family Participation Plan. For various reasons, my parents never had the opportunity to attend high school, let alone post-secondary. So for my parents, the post-secondary education of their kids became incredibly important. For them, rule number one was: You can’t come home to the farm until you have a college or university degree.
My parents also believed that you had to broaden your work and life experience by getting away, hence rule number two: You can’t come home to the farm until you work three years for someone else. I guess that was so we would appreciate what my parents had built and how they did things. At least it was a start.
Finally, you had to increase the farm’s profitability which brings us to rule number three: You can’t come home to the farm unless you come with some ideas on how to make more money. In other words, my parents were not going to let go of the hired man who invested 25 years of his own life in our farm’s work while I spent time figuring things out.
Every family business should develop a Family Participation Plan. These three points may be a good start. There will be more to come on this topic.