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The Fertile Fields of Entrepreneurship

December 8, 2012
By: Moe Russell, Farm Journal Farm Journal columnist
Moe Russell column

One attractive aspect about farming is the opportunity to be an entrepreneur by starting and building your own business. Some say times have changed and that cannot be done anymore. But I see it happening every day.

A client of mine started farming with his wife six years ago, renting a farm and at the same time borrowing money to build a hog barn and feed hogs for a contractor. Today they have a seven-figure net worth and new opportunities presented to them on an ongoing basis.

Having started a few businesses myself and taught entrepreneurship for 10 years, I have observed several key characteristics of entrepreneurs. Overlaying these with what I’ve observed in this young farm couple, there are tremendous parallels.

Some people might be programmed for success,
others for failure

They have a passion for running their own business—certainly a key component of an entrepreneur.

They are risk-takers. However, they don’t try to hit home runs. Base hits work just fine.

They have self-confidence. They are goaloriented and know exactly when they will have capital items paid for in their business. They keep good records and live within their means.

They are accountable to themselves. When things go wrong, they first look in the mirror and  blame who they see—not the weather, the markets or their competition.

Education is important. But I’ve always felt the best formula for success is to work for someone else long enough to get promoted. That proves you have the patience, interpersonal skills and work ethic to succeed.

No amount of formal education can provide the experience that one gets in dealing with the hard knocks of life. Quite frankly, where I see young farmers struggling most is when they’ve had it too easy and Mom and Dad have provided too much.

The success gene. People often explain the success of entrepreneurs by saying they have a "success gene." Well, a recently published study by the University of Bonn and the Institute for the Study of Labor in Germany suggests that there is a success gene. The study, which included 3,600 parents with children age 25 or older, indicates that some people are genetically programmed for success while others are programmed for failure.

The difference? It basically boils down to two factors.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - December 2012

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