Passion projects and a deeply-ingrained love of a certain type of farming are leaving many business owners blinkered and income significantly down on where it could be.

The telling signs that it’s time to axe a certain facet of your business can quickly become blurred, especially for those who have spent decades in the agricultural industry or whose family farming heritage stretches back generations.

For our agricultural clients, accountants at Douglas Home & Co are continuously trying to decipher the gremlins blighting profits.

Passion versus profits. It’s a common thread we are seeing displayed across our range of agricultural clients – and we work closely with those businesses to ensure they can spot and rectify missed opportunities while certifying they are earning what they’re worth.

If a farmer has been in a daily working routine carrying out the same tasks for more than 30 years, it’s very hard to see the wood from the trees. And for those who have grown a great affinity for their animals or certain daily tasks that they’ve done for years, it can be hard to think of them as a financial shortcoming.

Livestock is one of the passion projects that farmers have that are consistently popping up as a blight on businesses across our range of various rural clients.

For the time spent on these business ventures, we always analyse whether the profits gained are actually worth it or whether farmers have simply got an attachment to their animals and are accepting measly hourly rates as a consequence.

When we break down the numbers and analyse income streams, it quickly stands out to us that farmers are in some cases being paid just £1 or £2 per hour for the time they physically spend on passion projects. Would they accept this rate if they were offered a new job? We doubt it.

Without appearing to have a complete vendetta against livestock, they are however the easiest enterprise to pick on, given their vast capital and time commitments. There are a number of other aspects of rural life that need ditched to save time and ultimately money.

For example, we’ve had farmers whose trade revolved heavily around game birds, eggs and fattened cattle. It was evident that the game birds weren’t pulling their financial weight. By doing a full profit interrogation we were quickly able to identify this. As a result, we suggested ditching game birds and using that time and effort by increasing egg production and sales – the rural firm quickly noticed major improvement when it came to time efficiency and profit.

We would never expect farmers to give up their passion entirely but by breaking down the numbers, they can continue to incorporate them into the business in a more financially stable way.

We’re urging our farming and rural clients that, in some cases, adjusting their passions to make way for untouched profit could make a real difference in the currently worrying economic and rural landscape.

Victoria Ivinson is a rural and farming expert with accountancy firm and tax specialist, Douglas Home & Co.