Setting up for success the entire year

January is just a month for recovery, isn’t it?

We need a month just to recover from four months of prep work for Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas festivities and New Year’s Eve bashes.

Personally, I could spend January just napping in my Christmas jammies.

But once the tinsel is packed away, the candy is consumed and the new must-have toys are broken in, there’s 31 days of cold and—if we’re lucky—snow to muddle through. This year, instead of taking off for some warm climate, or holing up in a farm shop with a welder and a project, what if we used the month to set our farms and our farm families up for success in the coming year?

—Take stock. Take the time now that you’ve opened those new Christmas presents to re-inventory your household items for insurance. Check with your agent, but a simple video on your phone might be enough to serve as record. Don’t forget to do this on your farm, too. Did you get rid of a pickup truck and no longer need to keep it on your insurance? Did you add a new piece of equipment? Have you inventoried your shop for tools and materials in the last decade?

Knowing what you have can help you save money and time in the long run.

—Set up a system. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing you have a part or a tool and you can’t find it. So, in a hurry, you go into town and buy replacements only to find the originals a month later.

Take this month and set up a storage plan in your shop, your barn, your garage and in your house. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but the more organized you can become in your down time, the better off you’ll be when it’s time to work.

—Purge. Take the time to get rid of any items that you no longer use. With all of the ways available to you today to buy, sell, trade items, you might actually make a few bucks on your castoffs. Farmers are natural born hoarders, because you never know when something will come in handy. The problem is that eventually you have so much stuff that you can’t ever find the one thing that will come in handy at the right time. It’s a law of nature.

Again, not just in the farm shop or barn, but also take a look in the house and garage for items that can be purged. Make piles to toss, to repair and to donate.

—Clean that desk off. If your desk is anything like mine, it tends to gather piles of documents, mail and bills. It’s almost an archaeology dig every time you need to pay the mortgage. Do yourselves a favor and start the New Year with a clean desk, a sorted file cabinet and a fresh start.

Go through your files and make sure that you and your spouse or business partners know where all the pertinent financial records are for the business. Take the time to review insurance and other financial documents for updates. Did you gain an in-law or a new addition to the family over the last year? Did you lose one to divorce or death? Update those financial documents now so that you account for the change in family.

It’s not as much fun as a trip to a sunny beach, or a month of welding and tinkering in your shop. But taking January to set you and your family business up for success is something you’ll appreciate all year long.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or [email protected].