Improving business performance

27 May 2016

Queensland cattle producers have the opportunity to improve the performance of their businesses and address the cost-price squeeze at a series of MLA workshops in June and July.

The BusinessEDGE workshops  at Emerald, Toowoomba, Gayndah, Taroom and Biloela will focus on core business skills and financial literacy to give producers a benchmark to critically assess their enterprise against the factors which underpin a good business.

Ian McLean delivers BusinessEDGE workshops across northern and rangelands Australia, drawing on his experience in pastoral businesses in these regions.

He said the two-day program develops sound business skills and applies them to the pastoral industry.

“This is important because, regardless of whether a business is a pastoral enterprise or a publically listed corporation, the same principles apply,” he said.

“We’re not talking about day-to-day livestock management; we’re talking about the factors that determine if your business is able to provide for the needs of its owners and family in the long-term and if not, what you can do about it.”

Ian draws on the criteria used to assess pastoral performance in the MLA-funded Northern beef situation analysis  for participants to set their own business goals.

This includes determining if their business can:

  • generate a return that meets or exceeds its cost of capital
  • remunerate its owners adequately
  • maintain a ‘safe’ level of equity
  • re-pay debt principal in a timely manner
  • provide for the independent retirement of the existing owners
  • survive a business succession

The BusinessEDGE program was developed in response to producer demand for business skills to complement the wealth of practical information available in the industry.

“Improving financial and business performance is particularly important given the continued climate of declining terms of trade, or the cost-price squeeze,” Ian said.

The two-day workshops are intensive, but producers are supported with resources such as printed course notes, reference material and decision-support spreadsheet tools. Follow-up workshops are also available for BusinessEDGE participants.

Ian also takes producers through case studies, ranging from pastoral enterprises to publically listed companies, so they can see business principles in practice.

“BusinessEDGE is a resource for any producer who wants to understand and manage their business better,” he said.

He acknowledged that many northern producers are facing tough seasonal conditions, but said this is actually an important time to take a good, hard look at their business.

“Producers will need to make critical decisions to manage drought and then rebuild, and BusinessEDGE provides tools and knowledge to support these decisions and keep the business going forward," he said.

Upcoming BusinessEdge workshops:

  • Emerald, 2-3 June
  • Toowoomba, 6-7 June
  • Gayndah, 12-13 July
  • Taroom, 18-19 July
  • Biolela,21-22 July

For more information and to register visit or contact Ian McLean on 0401 118 191,

More information

Download the MLA manual Improving the performance of northern beef enterprises

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