That’s what I’ve been doing on and off for the last 10 months – selling my parents farm. It’s finally sold after an intense 3 month of craziness. I won’t lie; at times this seemed like an impossible task for many reasons.
Selling a farm is much more than selling a home. It is selling a home and business together, with some very unique complications and considerations. My parents were born in the late 20’s and are a product of the depression/war generation. What does that mean? They kept everything and it was important to honor what they owned while also emptying everything out.
It seemed IMPOSSIBLE, but we did it! Why? Because we HAD to!
Here are 7 things I’ve learned when you HAVE to get something done that seems impossible:
- You WILL get it done! – I often hear business owners WANT to do something, but time ticks by and it still isn’t done. Why? Because it is a WANT and not a HAVE TO. I’ve learned that if you turned your “wants” into true “have to’s” then you’ll figure out how to get there. You’ll prioritize, find help, and put the time in to meet that deadline. You’ll start seeing success in your business in ways that you don’t when you are only working towards “WANTS”.
- We each have our own set of areas we shine in! – I didn’t sell the farm alone. My brothers and I naturally divided the work into areas that suited us best. I focused on the house and all their belongings; my brothers focused on the barns and farm equipment. You need to know where you shine when it comes to meeting your goals. You also need to know where you don’t shine and come up with a plan on how to manage those areas.
- If you HAVE to get something done, you’ll HIRE what you need. – We had an unmovable deadline, a closing date. We had no choice. We worked hard, but we couldn’t get it all done ourselves, there was just too much to do. We had to hire help to get everything done. If you set a firm deadline to achieve a goal in your business, don’t move the deadline if you can’t make it on your own. Instead, figure out how you’re going to meet that deadline and what help you need to get there.
- Keep records organized! – This is an obvious one, but so important! You are running a business and at some point, you are going to be selling or closing that business and the tax man will want to know everything. My mother was a bookkeeper and my father was a serial entrepreneur until he was 84 (and he still would be today if he could physically do it). They kept every record which is great; however, it wasn’t necessarily organized for the lifetime of the business. I have boxes and boxes of papers that I still need to sift through to find the important items for taxes. Selling a farm is much more complicated than selling just a home or a business; it is both. This task would have been much easier if my parents had kept records knowing that someday they would have to sell it.
- There will be some WINs and some LOSSES, but overall the outcome can be great. – We had an auction to sell off their household items they no longer need or wanted and to sell off the farm equipment. Here’s what happened – some items went for almost nothing, other items went for more than what my parents paid for them initially. It would have been easy to get upset about the low selling items and not see that overall things balanced. In a day, we were able to sell 95% of what needed to go and it was removed that day. That was the biggest win of all! We didn’t have to figure out how to deal with 64 years worth of items and things went to people who really wanted them instead of landfill. My point for business owners is that sometimes things won’t work out as you wanted and other things will exceed your expectations. You have to accept the losses, move on and focus on the WINs.
- What was valuable 10 years ago may not be today. – Furniture just isn’t worth what it used to be. The new generation wants Ikea, not solid wood. Ten years ago a solid oak table would have been a popular item, today it won’t sell. What does that mean for a business? You need to regularly look at what you are offering and make sure it is aligned with what the market currently wants.
- Closure and letting go is the key to success! – Selling my parents’ home and all of what they had accumulated over their lives was difficult. I’m fortunate that my parents are still with us but their health has required them to downsize drastically. It is difficult to let go. Truth be told, I probably kept more things than I can find places for (I’m still unpacking items). We all had to let go of the farm, the items but not the memories. We needed to let go and close that chapter in our lives. This happens in business as well. Sometimes we go down a path that just doesn’t work out. I’ve done it. As business owners, we need to acknowledge that and let it go so that we can move on to new success.
One of the challenges for business owners trying to grow a business is to set deadlines that are firm. You should treat deadlines like a “closing date” and figure how you are going to get it done. It often can be easier in the moment to let that date slide because other things are more important or the resources to get it done are not readily available. Unfortunately, the result tends to be that you are not reaching your goals and growing your business at the rate you really want.
Does this sound familiar? What one goal/deadline do you need to make unmovable and focus all your efforts on?