I spent the first 19 years of my life on a beef farm with my loving parents and 3 younger siblings in the Eastern Townships (QC). It was a lot of hard work (and hardship) and simply our way of life. Never once did I think of it as a business, with plans and strategies, and committed action to get desired results…until after I myself became an entrepreneur. Even though I had years of education and training in accounting and finance, I realize now that growing up on a farm was likely some of the best training I could have for running my own business. Here’s why:
1 – Farming takes dedication, resiliency and hard work, and a love for that way of life…it’s not for the faint of heart. I feel the same for entrepreneurship.
2 – Farming requires a lot of planning and strategic action to achieve desired results in the timelines afforded by the changing seasons. Running a successful business requires knowing your markets, having clear plans and taking strategic action to get the results you know are possible.
3 – You can’t run a farm successfully on your own – as in business, you need a good team.
4 – As a farmer, you need to build great relationships with your suppliers, your customers and your team members that fully support you in achieving your success. This same is true in business.
5 – My family really loves what they do and puts so much love into caring for the land and each of the animals on their farm. This love and compassion was instilled in me, and as an entrepreneur, I really care for my clients. I love serving them and seeing the joy on their faces as a result of their transformations and the results they’ve realized from working with me.
6 – Farming is a 24/7 job (at least the kind of farming we did)…you could be up before the sun and not get to bed until the wee hours of the morning (especially if it’s birthing season or maple season). As an entrepreneur, I eat, breathe and sleep my business. It’s an integral part of me, and often has me up into the wee hours of the night (especially when I’m in creative mode).
7 – As a farmer, you need to be prepared for life’s curve balls (uncooperative weather, sick animals, illness, injury, economic set-backs, influences beyond your control) – having back up plans, risk management systems, and a good support system are essential to handling those curve balls with ease and grace. These are also essential for success in business.
8 – Growing up, we had to make do with what we had. That meant being really resourceful, thinking outside the box and finding solutions that required little to no money. If it meant rolling up our sleeves, getting our hands dirty (and worn), and creating something out of nothing, we did it. I’m finding this has become a great skill in the beginning stages of my business.
9 – My dad never seemed to stress if things didn’t go so well on the farm. Sometimes SH*t happens – it is what it is…no point stressing over it…just assess the situation, learn from it, find a better solution and move on. I’ve had many challenges in starting and growing my business. Thankfully, I adopted my dad’s outlook on dealing with those challenges…otherwise I likely would have given up and gone back to a full-time job long ago.
10 – In farming, you really need good tracking systems and processes – whether it’s for your cash flow or your animal inventory (I saw my dad, and now my brother, tracking the cows and money almost daily – perhaps this is where I adopted my love and propensity for numbers, and why I became an accountant). As an entrepreneur, you really have to know your numbers (sales, marketing analytics, financials, etc.) and what they’re telling you so you can make the right decisions for you and your business.
So there you have it – 10 ways that farming prepared me for running my own business…and I never really acknowledged or appreciated them until just recently.
So what about you? What skills did you acquire from your childhood that maybe you haven’t acknowledged or appreciated until now? I would love to hear about them…leave your comments below.
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