Five Entrepreneurial Lessons I Learned Growing Up On A Farm
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“The ultimate goal of the farm is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”—Masanobu Fukuoka
On July 31, 1951, I was born on a farm in a faraway place called New Zealand. Today I run a Real Estate business in the heart of South America called “Gateway to South America“. For many years, I ran away from my farm-life upbringing because I thought it had no place in this business, but over time, I’ve come to embrace some of my farm-boy ways to a competitive advantage.
Here are five lessons I learned on the farm:
1) Sometimes “Sunup to Sundown” Is What It Takes
Like clockwork, our family would wake up every morning with the sun, to the sound of our roosters crowing. The workday began immediately, with the collection of eggs from the chicken coop for breakfast. Then, after a full day of backbreaking work on the farm, we went home to do it all over again the next day. There are no weekends, holidays, or personal days. A consistent level of hard work and dedication are a natural part of being a farmer. Obession with perfection brings success.
In our business, some weeks can take a herculean level of work to stay afloat. Thankfully, it’s already a part of who I am.
2) The Best Crops Take Time to Grow
Most crops are planted in the spring, and you don’t get to harvest until fall comes. In a world of instant gratification, patience is a virtue. A farmer knows that the best products take time to cultivate. Most crops are planted in the spring, and you don’t get to harvest them until late summer. In a world of instant gratification, patience is a virtue. A farmer knows that the best produce can take time to cultivate.
In the real estate business I run, it often takes months to close a deal. Lots of times people try to rush something that isn’t meant to be rushed. Patience in sales can lead to a wonderful yield. In the real estate business I run, it often takes months to close a deal. Lots of times people try to rush something that isn’t meant to be rushed destroying relationships and the potentional transaction.
3) We’re All in This Together
If you think taking care of your front lawn is difficult, imagine multiplying that by 1000 and then throw a bunch of living, breathing animals into the mix. That’s what it’s like to manage a farm. It’s impossible to do it alone. Everyone relies on a team to make sure the whole farm runs successfully.
Running a family farm is the ultimate team business, one in which the labour, as well as the rewards, are all shared.
4) Money Isn’t the Only Currency
Every year we brought one of our cows to the local butcher to process the meat for us — without the right equipment and skill, slaughtering cattle is almost impossible. We knew we couldn’t store or eat, a whole cow in a year, so instead of paying the butcher on a per-kilo basis, which is typical, we’d give the butcher a third of the meat in exchange for his services.
In small farm towns, bartering is as almost as common as exchanging money, but it’s popular in many other areas—the bartering market in the US alone is reportedly around $12 billion annually. At our company, I am always looking at creative ways to do business with someone that doesn’t involve exchanging money and so is a win-win for both sides.
5) Strategic Planning with the Farmers’ Almanac
Since the dawn of time, farmers have had to use the best tools available to manage their fields, whether it’s taking advantage of hedging (in the form of futures contracts), crop monitoring via satellites, tractors equipped with GPS, and other technology to maximize yields.
Like all business-people, farmers need to be constantly looking into the future, strategising, and calculating current resources against future needs. In our current business, we replace a weather report with a sales pipeline. This allows us a funnel of qualified leads that my team and I can consistently follow up with and transition into being our potential customers.
By running towards my childhood instead of running from it, I’ve discovered so many wonderful life skills that pay dividends many times over as an older entrepreneur.
Founder of Gateway to South America Founder of Gateway to South America
Contact the Gateway to South America team to learn about the best investment opportunities in the region. The company is a benchmark for foreign investors wishing to invest in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, providing expert advice on property acquisition and investment tours.
Post available in: English