Seed World

Your Business is Unique, Just Like Everyone Else’s

Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

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We’ve learned that those outside a business can give incredible insight on how to improve the company.

We hold multiple operational and strategic planning sessions each year. Taking a few days with the operations teams, account managers and management team to step back and review our business has been critical to our success. We’ve challenged our assumptions and brainstormed creative ideas that have allowed us to continuously improve.

Historically, these conversations had all been conducted within the company. Overtime, we recognized that if we have the same people and groups talking about the same issues or situations, our creativity wasn’t going to keep pace with the speed of industry change.

To keep our company innovative and ahead of our competition, we started enlisting the perspective of people outside our company and even outside of agriculture. In doing this, we learned some important lessons.

The Seed Business Isn’t Unique.

It’s commonplace to think that your business or industry is unique. This thinking, however, limits the solutions you are likely to consider and can lead to tunnel vision. Your business is unique just like everyone else’s.

How to differentiate your brand, respond to challenges from disrupters, adopt new technologies, organize and recruit labor, react to pressure from consumers and balance the push and pull between price and value are not unique to selling seed. Learning how companies and individuals in other industries approach challenges will give you an edge on your competition.

An Organizational Commitment to Change is Critical.

Soliciting ideas and perspectives from outside sources is the easy part. Putting those ideas into practice requires a complete company commitment to embrace change and be comfortable with new approaches. If your company leadership, managers and other key employees don’t embrace new ideas, implementation is not possible. Leadership must communicate the “how and why” and be consistent in supporting new approaches.

Any Business Can Do it!

Gaining outside perspective is within any company’s reach. Start slowly with your current contacts in other industries. The most success will come from having a formal and deliberate process. Evaluate which challenges are best suited for outside perspectives. Then enlist a dedicated firm or set of individuals to rely on to deliver the best results.

There is a lot of incredible insight to be gained by getting an outside perspective on your business. The earlier you start, the earlier you will see the benefits!