Fieldays – testing our business assumptions

By Rachel Joho

Our business is still new and growing, meaning we are changing almost daily to meet the needs of customers and the demands of the rural sector.

We have a small team; so nearly all of us (excluding the godfathers Rich and Yoann, who were left in the office to code) attended the Mystery Creek Fieldays this year, which was the perfect opportunity to connect with farmers and converse around whether Figured is on the right track.

The feedback from our conversations with farmers was astonishing and went a long way to prove the track we are on, is definitely the right one.

I’d like to share with you a few assumptions we have made and what insights we gained about these assumptions when talking with farmers at Fieldays.

Farmer’s want to know more information about how their farm is performing financially

Farmer’s are business people who deal in figures all the time – go to any social function south of the Bombays (or north for that matter) and the first thing you will note is farmers work in figures – chat of production per kg/MS or hectare is as common as chat of soy lattes and $12 beers in the burb’s.

Yet some of the feedback we got early on was “Farmers don’t want to know about numbers and stuff, they just want to be on the farm.

We found one of the biggest values farmers were interested in was that by using services such as Xero and Figured they would be able to know how the farm is performing today – not when their last financial statements were prepared.

Most farmers I talked to were really interested in the fact they could drill down on expenses and have an accurate Cash Flow, Profit & Loss or even Balance Sheet at their disposal – which comes back to the assumption that farms are businesses, and business operators want to know how their livelihood is performing – end of story.

Xero stand at the 2015 fielddays in Hamiton New Zealand

Rachel showing a farmer & business person through Figured & Xero

Age is no barrier to technology

We had a few ‘older’ farmers come up to the stand and seem genuinely interested in what we were doing but were quick to state ‘it would be great for the younger farmers – but not us – we couldn’t use it.’

To all farmers out there that may see their age as a barrier when adopting technology here are two stories which I hope challenge this line of thought.

James “should-have-entered-rural-bachelor” Higgie was in the ASB tent when an ‘elderly’ man approached him and stated “I don’t have an email address or use internet banking but I want Xero and Figured.”

I was on the Xero stand on Thursday, quite possibly finishing off my second pie for the day (seriously how good was the food and coffee at the Xero site!?) when a 74 year old lady (she later told me her age) approached me to ask about Xero.

Being the young hipster I am, I assumed this lady probably wouldn’t know much about Xero so I started off slow with:

“Well Xero is an online accounting platform….”    ….only to be cut off mid sentence….   “I know what Xero is, I run my business through it and love the fact I can code off all my transactions on my smartphone – I actually have a question about the payroll.” 

Needless to say I had to follow up my second piece of pie with a good ol humble slice.

Technology is changing the world we live in – don’t get left behind because you think you ‘can’t’ use it.

Farmers want to work with their ‘farming team’ and not in isolation.

You will hear us talk about the ‘farming team’ a lot. Technology has now allowed for the farmer to work collaboratively with their chosen professionals on an ongoing and remote basis.

Do farmers want this? We think yes.

I could give you endless examples of conversations we all had – but lets prove this assumption with cold hard statistics.  For all of you who took our survey at the Fieldays Xero stand this is what we found.

What are farmers looking for from their trusted advisers?

  • Education and Technology – 16.9%
  • Budgeting and Forecasting 50.98%
  • Succession Planning 16.34%
  • Compliance 15.6%

So to all the people we talked to at the Fieldays, thank you.

As for our business assumptions? We still have a long way to go and are furiously busy continuing to grow and evolve, although at this stage, it’s good to know we are on the right track.


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