Running a successful farm in a small town can be isolating, and constantly improving and expanding your business is challenging. That’s where peer group can help.
“Peer groups provide the opportunity to learn from and with producers in similar situations,” says Davon Cook, Pinion peer group advisor. “Even after 10+ years of leading groups, I’m still amazed by the power of people helping other people succeed.”
How does a peer group work?
Peer groups are made up of like-minded business owners who get together two to three times a year. A facilitator organizes the meeting and manages the agenda and flow of conversation, to keep the time efficient and impactful. Members help each other, get advice, and learn from speakers and trainers about topics that affect their business.
4 ways producers can benefit from ag peer groups
- Information sharing. Farmers in peer groups exchange information about farming practices, crop management, employment challenges, and other day to day best practices. This helps producers think outside the box, find better ways of doing things and apply new ideas to their own operation.
- Honest and objective advice. Peer groups allow you to meet people who are completely removed from your work. Without the emotional or financial investment in your business – members can offer objective and unbiased opinions that you may not get from coworkers or even family. They can shoot straight, where family may tread lighter.
- Problem solving. On any given day you have so many issues calling for your attention that it’s easy to put your head down and get lost in the weeds. Going to a meeting and hearing an outside perspective can help you step back and look at the 30-thousand-foot viewpoint instead of the down in the day-to-day. Oftentimes it takes an outside perspective to see a clear path forward or a simple solution.
- Emotional support. While coffee shop talk may keep you connected with neighbors and locals, it’s not always the place to share about business wins or struggles. In healthy peer groups, trust and confidentiality are critical components that allow members to be open about their successes, setbacks, and struggles – and to ask for help.
“Members share all sorts of nuts-and-bolts information about financing, equipment, human resources, inputs and other topics,” says Cook. “Just as important – they support each other through the hills and valleys, helping each other succeed both in life and in business.”
Pinion organizes and facilitates ag peer groups to support producers and farmers across the U.S. Learn more about how peer groups work and how you can get connected, here.