Okay, you’ve made some governing decisions! That is incredibly important work you’ve done towards building the resilience of your farm or ranch business. You probably also identified some barriers for making a decision. If you’ve got more barriers identified than decisions made that is not a problem. This is an opportunity to address the barriers you’ve just identified in order to work towards a solution!

Generally, barriers to making a governing decision fall into these categories:

  1. Individual reflection is needed
  2. Information is missing
  3. Technical support is needed
  4. More discussions need to be had with business partner(s)

Try this: Identify which category the barriers fall into to create a solution (~1HR exercise)

In a meeting together with your business partner(s), identify which category each of the barriers you identified fall into.

Once you do that, navigate to the applicable category headings below for tips on how to resolve those barriers.

  1. Individual reflection is needed: When faced with big decisions each owner will have their own perspective on the matter. However, if each owner hasn’t had a chance to reflect on their own ideas, preferences, and boundaries, making a collaborative decision can be difficult. Try this: Take the time that you and your business partners need to individually reflect on the governing question(s) you could not decide on with a clear date for when you will next discuss the matter. Use a meeting deadline to keep everyone accountable to actually taking the time to reflect on the matter, so everyone can come to the next meeting prepared with formed ideas and thoughts for discussion.
  2. Information is missing: You and your business partner(s) need more information before making a governing decision. This information may be externally sourced (e.g. researching democratic voting systems) or it may need to be internally gathered (e.g. creating a log of all owner contributions to the business thus far). Whichever the case may be, Try this: make a numbered list of what information you think is missing. Next to each item, identify who will be responsible for researching that information. Set a meeting time as the research deadline to discuss findings with the goal of making a decision on the matter. You can also reference the LLC Operating Agreement Detailed Sample for example terms and explanations for each governing question, as well as the C Corporation Sample Bylaws for corporation specific terms and the Preparing a Partnership Agreement for a General Partnership section of the Sole Proprietorship and General Partnership Fundamentals for general partnership specific considerations.
  3. Technical support is needed: You may not be able to make a governing decision because you and your business partner(s) need to consult a technical support provider. This could be an accountant, a financial advisor, small business advisor, or attorney. Generally speaking, for the 17 governing questions, you and your partners will be the best source of wisdom for how you want the business governed. However, for the Round 4 questions on “Big Decisions” especially, you may want to consult an advisor. Try this: Write out the exact questions you need technical support to address (as you would pose it to the advisor), and next to each question identify the service provider/advisor you plan to seek support from. Then, identify which business partner will reach out to them and by what date.
  4. More discussions need to be had with business partner(s): For the governing issues you haven’t discussed much at all or ever before, make a plan to have those discussions. If you couldn’t decide on a governing decision because you need to talk through the issue with your business partners some more, Try this: Make a list of those questions you need to discuss further. Schedule a follow up meeting and use that list as your agenda. Assign a notetake in the meeting to record ideas that emerge, decisions made, and next steps.

Tip: Before the meeting with an advisor, take some time to reframe your priority issues into questions for clear asks. Do you want general advice? Specific strategies? Examples of what other farmers and ranchers do? Identify what kind of advice you want, and reframe your priority into a question that invites that support.

After you’ve addressed each barrier and come to a decision for that governing question, move onto Step 6.