Goal tree strategy to grow a successful farm

Farm Forum

When I lived in New York City, I had dinner with a friend at the Harvard Club and we were working on my goals.

My friend said, “Scott, figure out where you want to be in five years, then think backwards.” His advice was to set a long-term goal then reverse the steps, determining what I could do today and next week and the next to incrementally achieve that goal.

Recently, we went over how to set smart goals ( This week we will build what I like to call goal trees in order to build and maintain momentum in achieving our “Health, Wealth, Love, and Happiness” goals.

The success rate with goal trees is very high; adding a coach into the mix who keeps you accountable makes it even higher.

Let’s take a look at what the goal tree strategy looks like.

How to create a goal tree

The first step is to build your dream life five years from now. It’s best to go out 10 years or more, but if you’re new to goal-setting, start off at five years out for now. Even still, get out of your comfort zone and dream a little here.

Remember the principles of SMART Goals apply here and with all branches of the goal tree: these goals need to be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

The long-term goals are the treetops. You’ll be building branches backwards down to things you can be doing today and tomorrow to start climbing up the tree.


Revenue goals are the easiest measurable goals to do this with. At Cash Cow, we take our employees through the goal tree strategy.

For example, I’ve talked with my salesperson about his long-term goals. He lives in Denver and wants to buy a house there. In order to buy a house, he has to have a certain reliable income.

Here’s how he walked through the goal tree:

1. How much would he need to buy a house in his area?

2. What does he need to make per month based on that amount?

3. How many sales is that, based on his commission and salary?

4. How many demonstrations of the software does he have to do based on his close rate to achieve that commission?

5. How many calls per week and day were needed to achieve the desired amount of demos?

And so on, down to how many dials he has to make every day. Do you see how we’re working backwards here? You start with a financial goal, and you trace it down to an immediate action that will move you towards that goal.

Pro tip

“Start with a financial goal, and trace it down to an immediate action that will move you towards that goal.”

He might have to make 250 dials a week, and it’s a frustrating job, but if he figures he makes $20 every time he dials based on his commission package, it gets a little easier. That’s much more motivating than saying I made 250 dials and got five people to talk with me.

His tree also has a branch that extends to me. I use his goal tree to see how many fresh leads I need to be developing so he can call and and develop those leads into customers.


It’s the same with the farm.

Let’s say that in five years you want to have a consistent $250k annual income.

What are you earning now off your farm/acres consistently? How many acres do you have to add, or how much more efficient can you be? What’s your grain marketing plan? (

Assess your efficiency and see what the realistic profit per acre is. If it’s $100/acre then increasing your farm size to 2,500 acres is part of the branches that hold up that treetop. You may also have side revenue silos that can add to that income level, such as doing custom work and/or cattle.

As always, the Cash Cow software is perfect for setting and achieving financial goals, because it gives you a clear reflection of the productivity value of each of your fields—crucial knowledge for figuring out how to be as efficient as possible.

The tree branches start to unfold once you have set the initial long-term treetop goal.


So many people just expect goals to achieve themselves, and they don’t want to do the work to make it happen. Take those brilliant words from the movie Pain & Gain to heart: “There’s doers then there’s don’ters. Don’t be a don’ter” (

There are unlimited resources on goal-setting across the Internet. Do a little research. For a good place to start, visit Or for your farm financial goals, chat with us ( We’d love to help.