People don’t say “don’t bet with farmers” for no reason. In their business, they have many obstacles, such as declining profit margins, companies that have much larger market power, and unpredictable weather and commodity prices. They are just another kind of entrepreneurs, as they have to grow the business by themselves, constantly innovate and take responsibility for the product delivery. Farmers can teach entrepreneurs a lot of things, and here are some that every business owner should consider:
- Your mission must matter.
Think about the importance of your mission and is it essential. And if you want to be a successful entrepreneur it must be important. The profession of farming is fundamental to our society. Especially now when the population is growing faster than ever, being productive on every acre of land is important more than ever.
- Data analysis is the key to success.
This is one of the most important lessons to be learned from farmers. For instance, average farmer in the FBN network collects more than four million data points per year. One study showed that the farmers who planted the top-ranking seeds from collected data had 12.5 percent more income than those who didn’t. Farmers cannot think that something will work just because it worked once, and that is because of the constant change of conditions. This can be applied to any kind of business. You have to know your data entirely so you could innovate with confidence
- Your word and a handshake are very important.
Today, when we have uncontrolled litigation and online legal services, one could think that contract is the only thing that matters. But it’s not like that, your strength and your reputation in business is far more affected by your actions than by words on paper. Trust is essential in the small farmer communities, farmers live and die by their word. This is maybe overlooked by some business owners in other industries, but it is crucial. Your ethics and your word mean a lot in business.
- You reap what you sow.
This is true in both figurative and literal sense. Farms are usually multi-generational entrepreneurial enterprises. Think about any big tech company today, Amazon, Apple, Google; they have all been around for more than a decade. That is because they are focused on long-term goals instead of immediate success that won’t benefit at all in the long run. Farmers’ situation is the same, they have to think in terms of decades. For instance, a farmer can boost his yields by aggressively tilling the soil, but that will have very bad long-term consequences or the soil health and require expensive fertilizer programs in the future. Farmers have to think very carefully before they act because of the long-term consequences. This goes for entrepreneurs as well; think about the possible long-term consequences.
- Focus on what you can control.
Being nimble is very important for farmers or any kind of entrepreneurs. It is true that you need a good time management and efficient plans, but you have to be prepared for failing of your plan A. As farmers can’t control the markets or weather, they must focus on finding new markets, managing their costs and building soil health, raising a good crop, etc. All of this lowers the risk of failing. Entrepreneurs must think about where and how they spend their time. As an entrepreneur, you must concentrate only on what you can control in order to be successful.
- Systematically retire risk.
In business, the risk is inevitable, and you need to find the way to reduce it. The risk is always present. When you decide to start a business, right away you have to have to reduce the risks facing it. There are various ways to do it like focusing on team building, fundraising, product-market fit, etc. But the important thing is to do it whenever it is possible. Farmers often can’t control the risk they are exposed to, so they also develop different sophisticated risk management strategies. As soon as you retire all the manageable risks, you will be able to focus on what you think will help your business.
- Hard work matter equally as brains
We can think of farming as the ultimate combination of hard work and brains. This is very valuable lesson considering that most of the smart entrepreneurs think they just have to invent something and watch the money flow. For example, farmers need to think about maximizing the value of their crop, but once they figure it out, they must do the hard work. Farming is a brilliant marriage of hard labor and brain power, and that is exactly why it can be an inspiration for all the entrepreneurs.
- Learn to innovate constantly
Although there is a stereotype about farmers being behind the times, they embrace innovation all the time. They have to do so because they’re in a very competitive commodity business. If adopted early, innovation can give you a big advantage. That is why farmers will probably always innovate and take the risk if there is a potential return.