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                    John Gay, DVM PhD DACVPM               AAHP                  FDIU             VCS


Agricultural Veterinarian Business Information Resources

Updated April 19, 2013

Contents:


Introduction:

This is a resource list intended for veterinary students interested in developing their business expertise.

The contents are biased toward agricultural animal practice providing services to commercial agriculture, which is business-to-business (B2B) professional service business (in contrast to conventional individual animal practice, which is business-to-consumer (B2C) professional service). Although most practices are classified as small business (rather than large) and in the service sector, veterinary practice serving individual clients and individual animals is different, particularly in optimal marketing practices. Comparisons in other professions would be public accounting firms serving corporate clients vs. businesses providing individual tax return services or corporate lawyers vs. personal defense attorneys

Knowing this is important for several reasons:

To develop expertise, make a habit of reading at a regular time each week. You have more free time in school than you will have in a busy practice. In practice the only time that you are making money is when you are doing something that is billable to a client. Anything else is at best an investment toward doing future billable work.

Note: As I am not qualified to do so, I have not verified the accuracy or usefulness of many items so you must use your judgment. Inclusion does not imply endorsement nor does omission imply disapproval. I have not made more than a brief, cursory scan of  some of these sites to determine if they appeared sufficiently interesting to warrant including.

Be careful! As watching CNBC's American Greed: Scams, Schemes, and Broken Dreams demonstrates, many are happy to give bad advice, to promise to make you rich, to abscond with your money and to otherwise take advantage of you. If it seems too good to be true, it is. For understanding what is "too good", see "Capital Management and Investment Decisions" (pdf).  Some popular advice is very wrong; see John T. Reed's "a cautionary analysis." Popular gurus often present a different model of their history than what they actually did - see Lewis Schiff'sBusiness Brilliant and Helaine Olen's Pound Foolish.

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Recommended Non-veterinary Reading:

This list is now here as "Non-Veterinary Focused Reading Lists for Veterinarians"

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My Business Book List - pdf

My suggested set of books, many inexpensive paperbacks by choice, for understanding business issues underlying the agricultural animal practitioner (food supply veterinary medicine) supply issue, recognizing that that providing services to commercial livestock agriculture is a business-to-business (B2B) professional service rather than a business-to-consumer (B2C) professional service that conventional individual animal practice is. Others suggested books are listed here. If you have favorites that provided key insights or changed your path and aren't listed, please let me know.


Business Examples:


General Business:

accounting: (note that a most important component of accounting is establishing accounting controls to reduce the chances for fraud, a surprisingly common occurrence in small business!)

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business:

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business plans, business models and strategic planning: wiki

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change, conflict, and negotiation:

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communication:

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decision making:

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economics:

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entrepreneurship and innovation: ("All problems are opportunities, the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity" - Tina Seelig)

"The days when most farmers could make ends meet by simply bringing bulk commodities to market are over." US Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, 2/28/00 speech 2/24/00 speech

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finance:

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hrs - human resource services

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leadership:

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management:

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marketing "Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable" Robert Stephens, Geek Squad

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marketing research:

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MBA & executive management:

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medical / veterinary business management:

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motivation:

The common denominator of success – the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful – lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” Albert E. N. Gray

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operations:

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problem solving:

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quality control:

W. Edwards Deming - TQM (Total Quality Management) - wiki

Reneau, JK:

Center for Management Quality Research (RMIT Univ, AU - dead link 6/09 http://www.rmit.edu.au/bus/cmqr)

wiki:

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sales, selling, salesmanship:

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service business:

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systems thinking:

Each part of a system can itself be described as a system. A system can be very different from its parts. Gerber

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time management:

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journal articles:

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books:

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business magazines and newspapers (selected):

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blogs:

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wiki:

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Farm and Ranch Business Management:

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Applied Economics:

Economics is the study of how people make marketplace decisions, whether purchasing or selling. You need at least an intuitive understanding of the concepts of risk and risk management, costs and returns (fixed costs, variable costs, marginal costs and returns, breakeven), the time value of money (present value, future value), the key financial reports (net worth statements, enterprise budgets, accrual vs. cash accounting, balance sheets, cash flow statements) and the principle methods for evaluating alternatives (partial budgets, sensitivity analysis). At best, be able to evaluate the economic consequences of different alternatives, at minimum such evaluations by others, and understand enterprise analysis sufficiently to apply it to specific situations, either yours or client's. At least understand trends in input costs and output prices and the relationships between them including seasonal effects.

Handouts:

Economic literacy tests:

For people with no undergraduate economics courses, some excellent math-free books covering the fundamentals of economic thinking, particularly microeconomics and price theory, are:

For items specific to agricultural economics, see the Applied Agricultural Economics section in In-print & On-line Production Medicine Information Sources.

Various on-line textbooks and quickly outdated lists 1 2 3 are available. Some examples:

General texts:

Because federal farm policy drives farm economics, understanding the political economy of agriculture (subsidies, market orders, transfer payments, tax policy, tariffs and so on) is important to understanding the cycles and trends of commodity and input prices. The best book is:

wiki:

WSU

  • EconS 404 Economics for Managers (R Rosenman - WSU summer web-based course - he welcomes interested veterinary students)
    • The focus is introducing the tools and material necessary for an entering MBA student, emphasizing microeconomic analysis with the goal of providing a working knowledge of the economy and basic abilities in economic analysis
    • Text: Managerial Economics: Economic Tools for Today's Decision Makers, 6th ed, P Keat and P Young - Amazon .

methods:

  • CSU Extension
    • Break-Even Method of Investment Analysis, no. 3.759 - html  pdf
    • Partial Budget Form, no. 3.761 - html  pdf
  • EPA - Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analysis
  • FAST - Farm Analysis Solution Tools - U Illinois
  • Purdue Extension - Ag Economics
    • Are your farm business management skills ready for the 21st century? - ID-244 pdf
  • Small Farm Success Project - Business Management  - (U Maryland Extension - Farm Management)
    • Analyzing Investment Opportunity: The Time Value of Money in Farm Decisionmaking - pdf  html pdf2
    • Enterprise Budgets in Farm Management Decisionmakingpdf   html  pdf2 (Maryland Ext Fact Sheet 545)
    • Cost and Revenue Considerations in Farm Management Decisionmaking pdf2 (Maryland Ext Fact Sheet 546)
    • Using the Partial Budget To Analyze Farm Changepdf   html   pdf2 (Maryland Ext. Fact Sheet 547)
    • Using economic principles to manage your farm  -  pdf   html   pdf2  (Maryland Ext. Fact Sheet 548)
  • Western Risk Management Library - Business planning
    • Economic analysis of a new business - Doing it right, 1996 (Erickson, D, Kansas State , pdf)
    • Partial budgeting, 1992 (Dalsted, NL, PH Gutierrez, Colorado State, pdf)
    • Using a partial budget to analyze changes in your farm operation, 2001 (T Teegerstrom, pdf)
  • WSU
    • Using Enterprise Budgets to Make Decisions about Your Farm (R Carkner, WSU PNW0535) - pdf  pdf2
  • books:
    • Slenning, BD (2001). Quantitative Tools for Production-Oriented Veterinarians. Chapt 2, pgs. 47-106 in: Radostits, OM (ed., 2001). Herd Health: Food Animal Production Medicine, 3rd ed. 
Other Selected On-Line/Printed Materials:
  • Agriculture & Business Management Index - Colorado State University (includes information on how to prepare partial budgets, enterprise budgets and standardized performance analysis)
  • Agricultural Economics for Veterinarians: Partial Budgets for Beef Cow Herds, 1999 (RL Larson, VL Pierce, Compendium on CE for the Practicing Veterinarian,, 21(9 suppl):S210-S219)
  • Agricultural economics for veterinarians: Marketing beef cow herds. (RL Larson, VL Pierce, Compendium on CE for the Practicing Veterinarian, 21(10 suppl):S235-S241)
  • A mixed methods inquiry: How dairy farmers perceive the value(s) of their involvement in an intensive dairy herd health management program. (Kristensen E, C Enevoldson, ACTA Veterinaria Scandinavica 50(1), 2008, pdf).
  • A systematic approach to improve productivity and profitability of beef cattle ranches, 1992. (Toombs, RE, Wikse, SE, Field, RW et al. Compendium on CE for the Practicing Veterinarian, 14(9):1237+)
  • Costs and Benefits of Preventing Animal Diseases: A review focusing on endemic diseases, 2005 (html, pdf)
  • Enterprise analysis - A method to evaluate alternative production and management practices for cow-calf operations, 1993. (Toombs, RE, Wikse, SE, Salman MD et al. JAVMA 203(6):810-815)
  • Methods to evaluate a beef cattle ranch's financial status and identify unprofitable management practices, 1993. (Toombs, RE, Wikse, SE, Field, RW et al. Compendium on CE for the Practicing Veterinarian, 15(1):149+)
  • Old economics for new problems: Livestock disease (Presidential address, McInerney J, J Ag Econ 47(3):295-314, 1996).
  • Partial Budgeting
  • Techonomics: Anticipating the future (HL Martin) - pdf/a>
  • Therapeutic Decision Making in Pig Practice: Economics Made Easy, 1996 (pdf)
  • The economics of veterinary services, 1988. (Howe KS, British Vet J 144(4):343-350)

macroeconomic data:

people:

  • Duffy, Michael - Ag Economics Prof, Iowa State U
    • Economies of Size in Production Agriculture, 2009 J Hunger Environ Nutr 4:375-392
    • External costs of agricultural production in the United States, 2004 Int J Agric Sustainability 2(1):1-20.
    • The Clock is Ticking for Rural America, 2006 pdf
  • Lawrence, John - Director, Iowa Beef Center, Iowa State
  • Wittman, R. L. "Dick" - Wittman Consulting

blogs:

Wikipedia:

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Personal Finance: (Note: The following list is incomplete, I don't heed my own advice, and the included items are not checked for accuracy as I'm not qualified to do so! Proceed at your own risk!)

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Other Internet Resources:

blogs:

Consultants

Food for Thought:

Agricultural calculators

International Agriculture:

  • Lukefahr SD (1999). Teaching international animal agriculture. J Anim Sci 77(11):3106-13.

Quotes:

  • Peter Drucker quotes: (Think Exist, The Drucker MBA pdf)
    • Marketing is the whole business, taken from the customer's point of view - source
    • The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer
    • Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.
    • Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.
    • To develop yourself, you have to be doing the right work in the right kind of organization.
    • Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship, the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.
    • We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.
    • The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.
    • Knowledge workers must take responsibility for managing themselves.
    • Opportunity is where you find it, not where it finds you. 
    • The best way to predict the future is to create it.

stuff:

  • Brain Based Biz (Robyn McMaster)
  • Jim Harris - speaks on The Learning Paradox - YouTube
  • RFE: Resources for Economists on the Internet

Digital communication innovation continues changing how veterinarians access and exchange information. Instead of being isolated from your fellow practitioners, you can rapidly share information with others that have similar practice interests. The following are recent examples of developing social networking software:/p>

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